A stellar year boils down to this
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9. "Nebraska" (Alexander Payne)
Told in black and white with a touch of the Coens and perhaps more empathy than Alexander Payne has afforded his characters in the past, "Nebraska" is Americana of a different sort. A study of wanting for more than a life lived modestly, and more than that, a story of a son eager to connect with his father, the film manages a lot with simple brushstrokes. Its small town flourishes ring true as anyone from the South or the Midwest has surely seen countless of its scenes play out in real life. Bruce Dern gives the unaffected performance of his career but the whole ensemble fills out every nook and cranny with life and flavor. Phedon Papamichael's colorless photography, meanwhile, picks up the essence of screenwriter Bob Nelson's story: routine worn thin.