It is Oscar weekend so it seems fitting to drop in to post about one of the movies nominated for Best Picture. Nebraska is an Alexander Payne film. He has Oscar sitting on his mantle already and is probably best known for movies like Sideways, Election, and About Schmidt. His movies normally have serious themes centered on everyday-type characters but with plots that are interwoven with dark humor.
I don’t think Payne will be adding to his Oscar collection here. Bruce Dern – who has an Oscar-nod for Best Actor – has gotten the most buzz here. Dern has been around a longtime and gives a great performance as an alcoholic senior citizen father who believes the junk mail that notifies him that he has won a million dollars in a sweepstakes. So, Dern’s character sets off from Montana to Nebraska to collect, dragging his family reluctantly with him and encountering past friends and relatives to boot. While Dern does give a brilliant performance, it is mostly through physicality – which is hard to do and very underrated these days.
Payne, like most of his movies, does a great job in capturing how average people and families react to survive daily doldrums of their lives but the story seemed to dribble on like Dern’s character and after a while you were just wishing the movie’s pace would kick it up a notch.
The really bright spot in this movie – and she made it worth the rental – was June Squibb who is also nominated for an Oscar. She isn’t a household name so she is a longshot come Oscar night but I have to say that if she won in the upset, it would be a well-earned statuette. Every time she delivered a line, she stole the scene. In fact, she was so much the shinning star in this movie that I wondered as a writer if the movie shouldn’t have been about her instead of Bruce Dern’s character.
I would rate this movie overall 3.5 out of 5 stars. It doesn’t suck. The acting is good. The camera work is good but overall it just lacked enthusiasm. Payne is capable of so much more, he just didn’t show it in this one. Hey, it happens to everyone at some point.