by K.M. Zahrt
Nebraska is a remarkable film — captivating, humorous, and heartfelt. The nominations of Bruce Dern and June Squibb for Best Actor in a Leading Role and Best Actress in a Supporting Role, respectively, are well deserved. Will Forte reminds me of Will Farrell in Stranger Than Fiction. David Grant (Forte) is a simple-minded man, but Forte makes him lovable and his comedic roots deliver relief in unexpected ways. This film would fit nicely in your collection between your Wes Anderson and your Woody Allen films, and somewhere between The Grapes of Wrath and Little Miss Sunshine, oddly enough. Typing of Woody Allen, I have written elsewhere in this series that I liked Dallas Buyers Club for Best Original Screenplay ahead of viewing this film and Allen’s Blue Jasmine. Now, having viewed all the films in the category, I think it’s going to be a race between Dallas Buyers Club and Nebraska with Blue Jasmine in a close third. Nebraska is the kind of film in which the writing is so good — so crisp, sharp, and interesting — that you can’t help but take note as you watch. Regardless of who wins, Bob Nelson should forever be proud of this achievement.
Philomena is an odd duck of a film. Frankly, I’m not sure what to make of it, especially in the context of the other eight films nominated for Best Picture. I enjoyed the film, so did my wife, but it didn’t leave a lasting impact on me. I wouldn’t turn anyone away from watching it, but I doubt I’d return to it either. In that sense, it feels vanilla — good but not great; sufficient but not remarkable. Judi Dench as Philomena is great, but Steve Coogan as Martin Sixsmith is just fine. I think you get the picture.
To conclude this post series, here is my prediction for this year’s Best Picture nominees in order from most likely to least likely to take home the Oscar:
- 12 Years a Slave
- Dallas Buyers Club
- American Hustle
- The Wolf of Wall Street
- Captain Phillips