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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Buddy Beaverhausen Catches Up with Oscars' Best Picture Nominees # 5: Nebraska

Alexander Payne must have a thing about old men on road trips. He directed About Schmidt (2002) with Jack Nicholson and 2013's Nebraska. Payne hails from Nebraska though the script is by Bob Nelson, Oscar-nominated for Best Original Screenplay.

The movie is up for a total of six Academy Awards. I was most impressed by the film's sumptuous, expressionistic black-and-white cinematography by Phedon Papamichael who has worked with 2014 Oscar-nom director Alexander Payne before and most recently filmed Monuments Men.  Papamichael is also nominated for his brilliant camerawork here and it is the best I've seen in years.

Although this film, even at a trim 115 minutes, overstays its welcome -- perhaps due to its slow pacing and relentless deadpan style -- it provides a stark landscape of strip malls, motels and gas stations; an almost surrealist backdrop of Americana against which the dysfunctional family of this film is highlighted.

Acting is uniformly superb, especially Bruce Dern in the central role Best Actor nominee), June Squibb (Best Supporting Actress nom), Will Forte, Bob Odenkirk, Stacy Keach and Mary Louise Wilson.

Dern, in many ways, reminded me of my stepfather in an extremely vivid, unsentimental portrayal that is the quiet powerhouse at the heart of Nebraska.

Favorite dialogue is when the receptionist, at the end of the film's Quixotic quest, asks Dern's son, David (Forte) if his father has Alzheimer's. David replies, "No, he just believes what people tell him." Says the receptionist, "That's too bad."

Dj Buddy Beaverhausen will be co-hosting an Oscar night party for friends in Bay Ridge, NYC. Ballots and champagne provided. It's an exciting year with a bumper crop of movies and performances, so it should be an exciting night that I'll be blogging about. So far, I expect I'll be voting for Dern's career-capper in Nebraska for Best Actor.


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