Since I recently expressed great disappointment with Gravity, one of the movies nominated for Best Picture last year, it’s only fair that I express great appreciation for one of the others: Nebraska. That’s the one in which Bruce Dern plays a cantankerous, confused old man who thinks he’s won a million dollars from an outfit that’s pushing magazine subscriptions.
It’s an old-fashioned picture, beautifully filmed in black and white, with some wonderful performances, especially by Dern (a healthy 77-year old runner in real life) and June Squibb as his extremely outspoken wife. Their performances were both nominated for Oscars, as were the screenplay, directing and cinematography.
I had a little problem with the premise of the movie — hadn’t Dern’s character ever gotten one of those “We are authorized to award you one million dollars!” notices in the mail before? And when his wife and sons try to convince him he hasn’t really won anything, don’t they point out the very big “if” in the small print?
Putting that quibble aside, Nebraska is the most consistently enjoyable movie I’ve seen in months. I don’t know how a young person would respond to it (a lot of old people, plus black and white?), but the characters and relationships in the movie resonated with me. My parents didn’t age gracefully, I had an uncle who wouldn’t stay put, and I’m wondering what kind of old man I’m turning into. Contented, grumpy, quiet, outspoken, wise, befuddled? Probably all of the above.