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Movie Review: ‘Nebraska’

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When looking over the Oscar nominations for Best Picture, you can usually divide the list into two categories: The Front Runners, and the Happy to be Heres. Nebraska belongs in the latter.

Directed by Alexander Payne (Sideways), Nebraska tells the story of an elderly man (Bruce Dern) who believes he’s won a contest and must get to Lincoln, Nebraska to claim his prize of $1 million. His wife (June Squibb) and two sons (Will Forte and Bob Odenkirk) know the contest is just a scam, but after being unable to convince their father otherwise, they give in to his fantasy, even taking the opportunity to visit family and friends on the way.

Nebraska’s main plot is simple: Dern’s character Woody wants to get from Montana to Nebraska. But like any road trip in real life, it’s not about the destination. It’s about the unplanned stops and people you encounter on your travels. It’s with these secondary stories that Nebraska shines. Every townsperson oozes with Midwestern charm, and the smaller plot lines are steeped with realistic and familiar stories.

The acting is phenomenal for the most part. Dern and Squibb earned Oscar nominations for their fantastic performances. The downside, however, is that it exposes Forte as the weak link in the film. The comedic actor holds his own as the co-lead in the film, but having to act alongside Dern and Squibb makes him stand out like a pickup basketball player playing with NBA stars.

The analogy extends to the film itself when compared to the other Best Picture nominees. It’s a clever, funny, and touching film, but when put next to Gravity and 12 Years A Slave, it gets pushed aside. But for Nebraska, it’s all right. It’s another story encountered on its journey.

Overall: 7/10.

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About Nicholas Szabo

Currently a Junior at the University of Oklahoma majoring in Broadcast/Electronic Media with a minor in Film.