Andy: This movie seems particularly resonant for folks who have lived in a small Midwestern town. When the characters arrive in Nebraska town where most of the movie takes place, the setting, characters, and attitudes are all reminiscent of different aspects of Decatur County. It is not often that rural small towns get such realistic treatment in film, and it is an impressive choice after Payne’s last film set in Hawaii. The characters and the setting merge flawlessly, with Dern, Squibb, and Forte all creating characters that do not seem like characters at all. Dern and Squibb both nabbed deserved Oscar nods, and it is worth noting that Forte’s performance is right at the same level.
Ryan: I must admit that when veteran Hollywood stars get an Oscar nomination I sometimes take it a skeptical view of the nomination. There are many instances where these nominations are just a tip-of-the-cap to an actor and his career. That’s not the case here with Bruce Dern. His Oscar nomination is much deserved as he gives a grizzled yet empathetic performance as a man who knows the end is near. His chemistry with Will Forte, who also gives a noteworthy performance, is the nucleus that anchors the film.
Nebraska is a charmingly realistic film with no major flaws and great performances. Final grade: A-.