Best Picture Breakdown: Nebraska

Best Picture Breakdown: Nebraska
Movie Minute

POSTED: Sunday, March 2, 2014 - 2:00pm

UPDATED: Sunday, March 2, 2014 - 2:14pm

       It's award season in Hollywood and one of the most sought after awards is an Oscar. This year several deserving figures have received nominations. From Leonardo DiCaprio's nomination for Best Actor, to the team of Gravity receiving a nomination for their achievement in visual effects. While these nominations are great, none are more coveted than that of Best Picture. Just a few years ago the Best Picture category increase from 5 nominations to 10, but was soon changed to where each year up to 10 films can receive a nomination. This year 9 films made the cut; American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, 12 Years A Slave, The Wolf Of Wall Street.


“Nebraska,” or as some people call it “Stuff Old People Say and Do,” is a film that is designed and geared toward an older generation of moviegoers. Director Alexander Payne tells the story of an elderly, alcoholic-loving father who attempts to travel to Nebraska” with his son to collect his “winnings,” in a million dollar sweepstakes.

The film stars Bruce Dern, Will Forte and Bob Odenkirk. It is a good film, but in its own way.

The film has several classic movie making techniques that create the very slow and even paced film.

One of those techniques is the black-and-white nature of the film. Payne has said in recent interviews that he felt “shooting in black-and-white just seemed like the right thing to do for this film.”

He explains that it reflects the attitude of its characters. The audience can also get a sense that it also goes hand in hand with the feeling of being stuck in an abnormal life, which is a theme some of the characters express. Contributing to the slow feel of Nebraska, is how the director uses slow fades when transitioning between scenes.

Simply, it takes several seconds to transition between scenes due to the amount of time devoted to fading in and out of things. This along with long lasting shots of driving and scenery, give the film an almost dull feeling. In my opinion this is done to demonstrate the small town setting.

Though these things were done to fit the setting, it did make the story progress slowly providing for several dry parts.

The driving force of this movie however was not the setting, but the writing itself. The dialogue is very well done and is one of the reasons, besides the acting, that this film received a Best Picture nomination. Every interaction between Bruce Dern’s character and his son, played by Will Forte, was something that people with grandparents can relate to.

From their subtle smart aleck remarks to their constant complaining about how “things were different back in their day,” this film touches on them. In these moments you find a comedic tone in the dry, slow moving moments of the film.

Another thing that helped keep the story progressing was the acting.

Dern and Forte do a really great job at taking the audience through this on-screen journey of an old man trying to do one last great thing to do before he croaks.

Dern captures the essence of what some elderly people go through, while Forte does a great job at showing the toll it may take of some people who have to deal with a relative in this state.

By the end of the film these two viewpoints meet at a point of understanding in a very touching way.

Without ruining anything, the last scene of the movie made up for the dull moments.

While these two men did great, June Squibb, who plays Dern’s on screen wife, stole every scene she was in.

She was funny when she needed to be funny, and she was real when she needed to be real.

A performance that truly was enjoyable to watch.

“Nebraska” is a film that is good in it’s own rights. Will it win Best Picture; I personally don’t think so due to its small appeal. Nevertheless, it is a movie that is true to itself and its intentions.

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