Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) is old and a bit confused. Having received a letter in the mail advising he has won a million dollars (one of the magazine sweepstakes where the recipient never wins) as long as it is returned to Nebraska by a certain date. He starts to walk, often being picked up by the police and returned to his grumpy wife, Kate (June Squibb). Finally, his son David (Will Forte) decides to take him. However, after some bad luck, they end up stuck in Woody’s home town of the weekend and David learns a lot about his family’s past.
Nebraska is funny and sweet, with totally unlikable characters who you desperately want to succeed. It’s amazing to think that the film could contain so many unlikable characters and yet be thoroughly enjoyable. I didn’t even like David all that much. I haven’t yet figured out why the film was in black and white. I don’t feel that it added anything; if anything, I felt that I was missing seeing the beauty of the scenery in some of the wide shots with amazing clouds. If a director chooses to use black and white, it seems there should be a definite reason. Still, it didn’t wreck the film for me – with such a strong script and excellent actors, it would have been hard to go wrong.
Nebraska was nominated for Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Bruce Dern), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (June Squibb), Best Cinematography, Best Directing (Alexander Payne) and Best Writing: Original Screenplay (Bob Nelson), for Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy, Best Actor in A Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy (Bruce Dern), Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture (Juen Squibb), Best Director – Motion Picture (Alexander Payne) and Best Screenplay – Motion Picture (Bob Nelson) and for BAFTAs for Leading Actor (Bruce Dern), Cinematography and Original Screenplay (Bob Nelson).