Nebraska 02
Credit: Merie W. Wallace

Name: Nebraska

Release date: Nov. 15, 2013

DVD release date: Feb. 25

Run time: 1 hour, 50 mins

Box office: Opening weekend: $140,401; Total domestic box office: $16.5 million; Worldwide gross to date: $17.7 million

Rotten Tomatoes score: 92 percent

Nebraska movie math: Sideways + About Schmidt – color

Tweetable description: A middle-aged everyguy takes his ailing father on a road trip. Co-starring one of the sassiest old ladies in the history of sassy old ladies.

Number of Oscar nods: 6 — Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography

Movie’s Oscar history: Payne was nominated for a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for Election, and won Best Adapted Screenplay for co-writing Sideways and The Descendants. He also received Best Director nods for Sideways and The Descendants. Dern received his first nomination 36 years ago, for his supporting role in Coming Home.

What it has won thus far: National Board of Review (Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Top Ten Films), Cannes Film Festival (Best Actor), American Film Institute (Top 10 Films)

Why it should win: This year’s Best Picture race is dominated by dominating films — true-life tales of heroism and hyper-stylized Big Idea movies that trumpet their importance with big effects, big acting, and big hair. Nebraska is the odd man out: An old-fashioned movie about fictional human beings, with a thin wisp of a plot. But don’t let Nebraska‘s humble sensibility fool you. It’s overstuffed with thoughtful observations about the way we live now. The relationship between Forte and Dern is weighted with meaning — about the changes in American masculinity and the shifting nature of the American dream. Heck, you could argue that Nebraska is the most American movie made last year: The counterweight to The Wolf of Wall Street and American Hustle, showing how the last few decades quietly turned lovable small towns like Nebraska‘s Hawthorne into semi-apocalyptic tombs.

Why it shouldn’t win: Nebraska is by far the slowest-paced movie in the race, and there’s a sense that the movie might be a bit too in love with its leisurely paced melancholia. Also, can Alexander Payne even make a movie anymore that’s not a Metaphorical Funny-Sad Road Trip Into The Mind? Fifteen years after Election, you wish that the director could rediscover some of his old tart edge.

Vegas Odds: 200-1, according to Las Vegas Sports Betting, tied for least likely with Philomena

Best Line: “There’s Woody’s little sister, Rose. She was only 19 when she was killed in a car wreck near Wausa. What a whore!” — June Squibb’s Kate (I swear, in context, this line is hilarious.)

Worst Line: “Hey, watch the face, okay? I’m on TV.” — Bob Odenkirk’s Ross, the older brother of Forte’s character, recipient of a couple of Nebraska‘s way-too-easy vanity jokes