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November 16, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Hoping to excite strong word-of-mouth, Fox Searchlight is opening The Descendants, starring George Clooney, in New York and Los Angeles tonight (Wednesday) in advance of a wide roll-out on Friday (against Breaking Dawn). Early reviews are sterling. Lou Lumenick gives it his only four-star review of the year. It is, he writes, “superbly written, directed, acted, and, yes, Oscar-friendly.” Certainly the critics suggest, it will put Clooney into Oscar contention. “This is Clooney’s show,” writes Betsy Sharkey in the Los Angeles Times, “and he is hands-down terrific.” Joe Morgenstern in the Wall Street Journal contributes his accolades. “It’s a marvelous performance in a film of quicksilver feelings that pull you every which way,” he writes. The filmmakers have created “transcendent work,” says Claudia Puig in USA Today. She writes that Clooney delivers a superb performance and that director Alexander Payne “reaches new heights in emotional agility … [blending] wit and poignancy so artfully it feels like an exquisitely choreographed dance.” Payne, says A.O. Scott in the New York Times, “has made a movie that, for all its modesty, is big as life.”