Nebraska ★★★★

Payne's Nebraska does much with so little. It's a sparse piece of cinema, grounded in the sensibilities of the expansive American mid-west, but it’s proof that simple needn’t mean modest, and plain needn’t mean uncomplicated.

Every character in this film will grow on you. Bruce Dern and June Squibb are each marvellous in their own right, and while it’s not until after the halfway point that we begin to unearth the roots of their characters’ issues, they command every scene with portrayals that feel at once – paradoxically – both unorthodox and classic.

And it’s refreshing to see Will Forte in a role that gives him some dramatic meat to chew on, free from the absurdist escape of his past comedic entries. He’s cast perfectly, and conveys a great deal of depth that surprised me. The same could be said of Bob Odenkirk, but we’ve seen the glimmerings of these qualities for him in the role of Saul Goodman, and so we’re less caught off guard by them.

Nebraska is an all-together beautiful film, with an exceptional score by Mark Orton, who I hope we hear a lot more of in the future. His music encapsulates the feelings, tones, and minimalism of this entire piece.

As the last film of this year’s Oscar best picture noms that I’d seen, I’m really happy to have closed off 2013’s list with such a wonderful sentiment.