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November 22, 2011

The Descendants

By John Lopez | Films

Courtesy Merie Wallace / Fox Searchlight

Hollywood has saved its best for last this year. A rich selection of high quality films opens in theaters this Thanksgiving, making postprandial multiplex-hopping this weekend’s can’t miss cultural event. Here are recommendations for movies you must see, once you’ve loosened the belt a notch or two.

It’s been seven years since Sideways, Alexander Payne’s Oscar-winning romp through Santa Ynez’s wine country, and the director returns at the top of his game with The Descendants. George Clooney stars as an aristocratic Hawaiian paterfamilias struggling to connect with two teenage daughters while dealing with the revelation of his coma-bound wife’s infidelity. Touching but not maudlin, playful but not precious, The Descendants is a finely observed gem of beautifully honest storytelling. Clooney’s remarkable performance infuses Payne’s signature mix of wit and drama with a poignant humanity that makes this perhaps his most moving film to date.