Alright, I have a tie at number two... Not only that, but you may have noticed the perfect score on 12 Years a Slave. Yes, I think last year was a great year for film.
Nebraska (2013) is a road trip film by acclaimed director Alexander Payne.
Woody Grant is found wandering along the side of the road by a police officer. His son, David, picks him up and discovers that Woody believes he's won a million dollars from a magazine subscription company. Since the company is in Lincoln, Nebraska, Woody has decided to walk there. He can't trust the mail. David recognizes it as a scam. After getting chastised by Kate Grant, Woody's wife and David's mother, David returns to his life, working retail. After his father tries to get to Nebraska again, David decides to take a road trip to prove that the million dollars is a scam.
Nebraska isn't exactly about all that. Nebraska resonates more with the themes it deals with. Nebraska deals with aging, self worth, family, and money; all while being hilarious. The other striking thing about this film is how realistic the portrayals are. Much of the comedy works because of how relatable the characters and even the situations are. If you have any midwestern or older family members then a vast number of moments in this film will resonate with you.
Woody Grant is a dreamer whose life of good deeds has gone unrewarded. Initially portrayed as a bumbling old fool, Woody's life is reveals him to be a more complex character. The admiration that Woody earns from his son slowly discovers what kind of man his father really was.Woody is a man of simple tastes. Bruce Dearn puts in an amazing performance as the befuddled alcoholic, weaving between zoned out naturally.
David Grant is more of a boy than a man. His life has gone nowhere and his girlfriend moved out on him. When his father asks him to go to Lincoln, he's stumped. David is the straight man of the film and the butt of many of its jokes, but he never becomes hopeless. His opening up to new experiences and learning about his family are done perfectly. Will Forte, mostly know for comedy, excels in this dramatic role and plays much younger than his age with ease.
Kate Grant is Woody's wife and David's mother. She's a no nonsense woman who's had enough of dealing with Woody's crazy dreams. She's in most of te film and provides some of the best laughs as she reveals the dirty secrets of Hawthorne's past. Gotta love raunchy old ladies! I heartily support June Squibb for Best Supporting Actress!
Black and White Atmosphere
This film should win for both Best Directing and Best Cinematography. Even the rather run down city of Hawthorne looks beautiful. The decision to put the film into black and white makes to film feel like it's lagging a bit behind the actual time it's set in. The best shots are saved for the end and Woody's old house.
In the End
Possibly the most satisfying ending of any of this year's Oscar pics.
Many will skip this film in favor of one of the bigger names, but this film should not be missed. It explores the darker side of being a good person and still manages to be uplifting. This film fights a much smaller battle that is one that many of us face. Also, Bob Odenkirk, Saul from Breaking Bad, has a supporting role! Just see it.
Next Time: The Second Number Two film on my countdown.