September 26, 2016

Oscars: Get to know a Best Picture nominee: “Nebraska”

Nebraska poster 600x250

Directed by: Alexander Payne

Written by: Bob Nelson

Main cast members: Bruce Dern, June Squibb, Will Forte, Bob Odenkirk, and Stacy Keach

Number of Oscar nominations in total: 6

Other nominations besides Best Picture: Best Director (Payne), Best Actor (Dern), Best Supporting Actress (Squibb), Best Original Screenplay (Nelson), and Best Cinematography

Notable precursor wins: Won Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival and Won Best Actor/Supporting Actor from the National Board of Review

Chances at winning Best Picture: At one point a more serious contender and currently still one of the five likeliest winners, it’s however most certainly a long shot at this juncture

Chances at other Academy Award wins: It’s likely to be shut out, but there’s an outside chance of an upset in the Best Actor race

ANALYSIS OF OTHER OSCAR NOMINEES: 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity and HER.

Nebraska is the seventh film in my “get to know a Best Picture nominee” series, and it’s another nominee that has to look at the nomination itself as the real reward here, since it’s likely to be completely shut out. Earlier in the season it was considered a major threat and a potential dark horse to win a number of Academy Awards, but the buzz has really died down now. That’s a shame too, considering how at one point Bruce Dern was a real top tier contender for Best Actor. He could still swoop in for the upset win, but the likely result is that Alexander Payne’s movie goes home empty handed.

Working in Nebraka’s favor is how it’s the one film that clearly has the senior citizen vote. Oscar voters have long been pigeon-holed as old white men, and despite that being an oversimplification of things, there’s no denying that these older voters are there and the Academy has quite a few folks who like movies that speak to them. This one certainly does that.

If you’re looking for something that’s not in this film’s favor, it’s the fact that it really never got a precursor win of note. Aside from a win for Dern at Cannes that launched his candidacy, nothing truly of any importance happened for the flick. Nebraska got plenty of nominations throughout the season, but never that all important win. Had something happened at the Golden Globes for example, it would have set the movie up as a potential winner somewhere just because it had been seen winning on television. Now, it’s one of the most nominated of the year by Oscar, but one of the least likely to actually win anything.

NEBRASKASo will this movie win Best Picture? A few months ago it had a legitimate chance, but now, it’d be a huge surprise to see it somehow emerge triumphant. Dern is the flick’s only real hope, though truth be told he seems to be fading fast in the race. Payne is overdue for a win in the Best Director field, but it’s safe to say that it won’t be this year. Could something unexpected happen somewhere? I suppose anything is possible, and we’re only a few weeks away from finding out, so keep your eyes open and keep coming back here for all the information…

Stay tuned for the rest of my “get to know a Best Picture nominee” pieces in the days to come, with the penultimate article on Philomena up next!

ANALYSIS OF OTHER OSCAR NOMINEES: 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, and HER.

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He also contributes to several other film-related websites.

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