Metascore
86

Universal acclaim - based on 45 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 43 out of 45
  2. Negative: 0 out of 45
  1. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Nov 27, 2013
    88
    Nebraska is a rambling affair. It's about characters and dialogue. There's not much of a narrative to speak of - this is even more minimalist than "About Schmidt" or "Sideways."
  2. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    Nov 14, 2013
    75
    Bob Nelson’s original script, a sort of unlikely cross between “The Last Picture Show’’ and “The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek,’’ offers a biting satire of Midwestern life that Payne sometimes allows to border on condescension.
  3. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Nov 15, 2013
    88
    Just try to take your eyes off Dern. In his finest two hours onscreen, he gives a performance worth cheering. There's not an ounce of bullshit in it. Same goes for the movie.
  4. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Nov 21, 2013
    75
    An authentic piece of Americana. There's no lying or condescending from this director. Nebraska feels pure.
  5. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Nov 15, 2013
    75
    It’s a filmmaker’s conceit. These filmmakers may come from Nebraska, but, from the looks of things, they don’t want to be spending much time there.
  6. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Nov 27, 2013
    88
    It’s a movie that floods you with emotion when you least expect it.
  7. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Nov 14, 2013
    100
    What's extraordinary is what happens at the intersection of Mr. Payne's impeccable direction and Mr. Nelson's brilliant script. The odyssey combines, quite effortlessly, prickly combat between father and son.
  8. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Nov 14, 2013
    100
    Nebraska offers something deeper and more mature, the ability to make us care about its characters and their story on a different level than Payne has given us before.
  9. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Nov 14, 2013
    100
    Bruce Dern gives the performance of his career as the headstrong Woody in the brilliant, wisely observed and wryly funny Nebraska. What stands out is the fullness of the character, with mannerisms and expressions that make him wholly dimensional.
  10. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Nov 22, 2013
    100
    Nebraska is not a breakneck, screwball farce - although it has its moments, like the comical heist of an air compressor from a farmer's barn. Payne's film is loping. It's deadpan, poignant, absurd.
  11. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Nov 27, 2013
    88
    The movie has a longing melancholy that leavens the humor — it’s a surprisingly sad, gentle comedy.
  12. 90
    The movie is a triumph of an especially satisfying kind. It arrives at a kind of gnarled grace that’s true to this sorry old man and the family he let down in so many ways.
  13. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    Nov 13, 2013
    90
    Nebraska is one of Payne’s best films, a near-perfect amalgam of the acrid humor, great local color, and stirring resonances that run through his work.
  14. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Nov 14, 2013
    90
    This is a comedy, with plenty of acutely funny lines, a handful of sharp sight gags and a few minutes of pure, perfect madcap. But a grim, unmistakable shadow falls across its wintry landscape.
  15. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Nov 21, 2013
    75
    Much of Nebraska is ordinary prose, but the best parts are plain-spoken comic poetry.
  16. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    May 23, 2013
    80
    [A] wryly poignant and potent comic drama about the bereft state of things in America’s oft-vaunted heartland.
  17. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Nov 14, 2013
    90
    It’s a career-capping performance by Dern, who is so convincing as an addled, drunken, embittered and probably dying man that he doesn’t appear to be acting, but Forte is just as good playing a preoccupied, emotionally constricted man-child.
  18. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Dec 10, 2013
    100
    Only someone with intimate knowledge of the Midwest’s singular cadences, social codes and confounding emotional stew (er, covered hot dish) of aggression and politesse could pull off something as masterful, meaningful and poetic as Nebraska.
  19. Reviewed by: Liam Lacey
    Nov 21, 2013
    100
    Mostly, Nebraska impresses for its sure rhythms and artful balance of comedy and melancholy, resulting in Payne’s most satisfying film since "About Schmidt."
  20. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Nov 14, 2013
    80
    Capturing family on film — the real rhythms of family, with all the annoyances, awkwardness and affection — is tough. Tougher still is wrestling a story around the murky emotional waters of Midwestern relatives. Yet one needn’t be cut from that cloth to see the hilarious beauty, and the beautiful honesty, in Nebraska.
  21. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Nov 14, 2013
    90
    I’ve always admired this director’s commitment to both seriousness and laughter, to showing the beauty and significance of ordinary human life side by side with its petty, venal absurdity.
  22. 100
    And Dern, a great character actor who made his mark opposite everyone from Redford and John Wayne to Jane Fonda, embraces the roll of a lifetime.
  23. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Nov 21, 2013
    80
    Nebraska is as cold and unforgiving as its setting, yet just as stunning.
  24. Reviewed by: Scott Foundas
    May 23, 2013
    100
    Throughout, Payne gently infuses the film’s comic tone with strains of longing and regret, always careful to avoid the maudlin or cheaply sentimental.
  25. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Nov 27, 2013
    88
    A co-star deserving special mention is Nebraska itself, which Payne films in black-and-white to mirror the austerity of life on the de-populated prairie. These corners of the Cornhusker State are as empty as the promise of a sweepstakes prize. In this land of ghosts, one old pioneer tries to grab his stake before he becomes another windblown husk.
  26. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Nov 25, 2013
    83
    Even the tiny roles in this Rockwell-meets-Breughel panorama are perfectly, although almost cruelly, cast.
  27. Reviewed by: David Denby
    Nov 11, 2013
    70
    Bob Nelson wrote the script, which Payne has been mulling over for nine years, and some of it, enhanced by the deliberate pacing of his direction, is funny in a deadpan, black-comedy way. But the absurdist atmosphere feels thin: the movie is like a Beckett play without the metaphysical unease, the flickering blasphemies and revelations.
  28. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    May 23, 2013
    67
    It's a sad, thoughtful depiction of midwestern eccentrics regretting the past and growing bored of the present, ideas that Payne regards with gentle humor and pathos but also something of a shrug.
  29. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Dec 11, 2013
    100
    Not much happens to Woody in Payne's movie, compared to modern penchants for rushed narratives and easily defined characters. Yet patience pays off, with a suitably minor triumph for such an unassuming man. And a major acting triumph for Dern.
  30. Reviewed by: David Fear
    Nov 12, 2013
    60
    If the overall effect of Nebraska’s father-son bonding and attention-must-be-paid pathos doesn’t quite have the zing of the filmmaker’s best work, he’s certainly got an ace in the hole.
  31. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Nov 12, 2013
    88
    The movie is wrenchingly slow — you know from the start that nothing is ever going to happen — but Nebraska has a charm that grows on you like a lichen, a wicked sense of humor that makes you laugh in spite of yourself, a concealed heart soft as a Hostess Twinkie, and a generous, welcome respect for the basic decency of the human race, more valuable than any lottery ticket.
  32. Reviewed by: Peter Bradshaw
    May 23, 2013
    80
    Nebraska may not be startlingly new, and sometimes we can see the epiphanies looming up over the distant horizon; the tone is, moreover, lighter and more lenient than in earlier pictures like Sideways. But it is always funny and smart.
  33. Reviewed by: Bob Mondello
    Nov 15, 2013
    95
    The filmmaker has crammed Nebraska with orneriness, humor, greed, Americana and performances so natural they seem like found objects — especially Dern's, which caps a career of character parts with a delicately nuanced character.
  34. Reviewed by: Richard Roeper
    Nov 21, 2013
    100
    Shot in beautiful tones of black and white (and silver and gray), Nebraska is steeped in nostalgia, regret and bittersweet moments. Yet it’s also a pitch-perfect cinematic poem about the times we live in.
  35. Reviewed by: A.A. Dowd
    Nov 13, 2013
    58
    Payne, who never met pathos he didn’t feel inclined to puncture with slapstick humor, has somehow made his best drama and his worst comedy rolled into one.
  36. Reviewed by: Robbie Collin
    May 23, 2013
    80
    This is a resounding return to form for Payne: there are moments that recall his earlier road movies About Schmidt and Sideways, but it has a wistful, shuffling, grizzly-bearish rhythm all of its own.
  37. Reviewed by: Amy Nicholson
    Nov 12, 2013
    90
    Nebraska is the antidote to other family charmers about goofballs in matching sweaters.
  38. Reviewed by: Jordan Hoffman
    Sep 2, 2013
    69
    There are some laughs – and a few moments worthy of tears – but there’s a breaking point of believability in here somewhere that keeps Nebraska merely good as opposed to great.
  39. Reviewed by: Chris Nashawaty
    Nov 13, 2013
    83
    Nebraska isn't a perfect movie. It's often hard to tell whether Payne, an Omaha native, is paying heartfelt tribute to his vast stable of Cornhusker characters or slyly mocking them as simpleminded yokels.
  40. Reviewed by: Jessica Kiang
    May 23, 2013
    67
    Nebraska is a small-scale quixotic adventure about the importance of dreams, no matter how pie-eyed, in which the outlined flaws could all be forgiven, if it just went somewhere a bit more surprising.
  41. Reviewed by: Damon Wise
    Dec 2, 2013
    100
    A charming road movie that develops into a full-blown study of life and roots, offering a beautiful insight into the way families migrate and change.
  42. Reviewed by: Dave Calhoun
    May 23, 2013
    80
    More than ever Payne allows the humour to rise up gently from his story rather than burst through it.
  43. Reviewed by: R. Kurt Osenlund
    Oct 10, 2013
    75
    In the film, Alexander Payne's overview of America is extraordinarily, multifariously profound.
  44. Reviewed by: Philip Kemp
    Dec 9, 2013
    80
    A pitch-perfect performance from Dern graces Alexander Payne’s latest roadmovie – another bittersweet meditation on the sad, comic futility of life.
  45. Reviewed by: Christy Lemire
    Nov 15, 2013
    88
    Nebraska is full of complicated people marked by flaws and failures, mistakes and regrets; they can be selfish bastards, too. It often feels as though Payne is trying to strip away the cliché that the region is populated exclusively by hardworking, decent hearted types.
User Score
8.1

Universal acclaim- based on 196 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 46 out of 54
  2. Negative: 5 out of 54
  1. Nov 15, 2013
    8
    Director Alexander Payne "Sideways" (2004) and "About Schmidt" (2002) deftly handles the road-movie plot structure once again with dark humor and satirical depictions of contemporary American society, yielding fantastic results yet again, as a heartfelt journey to examine his frail and flawed characters. Payne himself is a Nebraska native who felt strongly that the movie be filmed black and white to capture the mood of the old American heartland, and in order for the film to receive funding from Paramount, he had to settle for a smaller budget. As a result, Payne films and casts the movie in local communities with actual residents which provides a realistic texture to the family bonding tale. "Nebraska” is a humorous and heart-rendering story of family, but it also sheds a light onto the people of America's heartland, and our countries economic, moral, and cultural decline.

    "Nebraska" starts as a road movie, with a father and son traveling from Billings, Montana to Lincoln, Nebraska. David (Will Forte) has decided to indulge his father Woody (Bruce Dern), who is struggling with dementia and thinks that he can pick up his $1 million in winnings from a magazine distributor in Lincoln. En route, they stop for the weekend in Hawthorne, Dern’s hometown, where they're joined by his wife (June Squibb), and his other son (Bob Odenkirk) amidst your stereotypical Midwestern relatives and friends, all of whom are extremely interested to learn that there’s now a millionaire before them.

    The central relationship between Dern’s stubbornly gullible dad and Forte’s passively irritated son gradually deepens as the movie makes its way through middle America. What makes the film such a delight to watch are the individuality of its characters. Each one is fun to watch in their own right; the father’s relentless determination, the mother’s humorous outbursts, and the son’s sympathy and desire to bond with his father. "Nebraska" reaches an emotional conclusion that echoes of "About Schmidt" and "The Descendants" (2011) with an underlying sense of lives largely squandered, but handled with grace and finesse that feels innately genuine. "Nebraska" is another finely tuned, superior slice of cinema crafted by Alexander Payne who achieves a more mature, sentimental tone than previous films. The all-around marvelous performances from the cast and supporting non-professional actors add an unmistakable authenticity to this slice of Americana.
    Full Review »
  2. Jan 30, 2014
    10
    This is the best movie I have ever seen. I am 59.
    That means there's a **** of other crap you
    can pretty much skip over and go straight to

    this film if you would like to know what comprises
    a really good one. A few scenes reminded me
    of The Last Picture Show. The ruins of the small
    town, the sparseness, the hopelessness...
    This is a film and all other so-called-films are
    nothing but movies in comparison. In the same
    way that 'West Side Story' is a musical and all
    other attempts at musicals are school plays with
    songs tossed in. If you miss seeing this film at
    a large screen you have missed the film. It simply
    won't translate to a television or any smaller screen
    very well sadly. Bruce Dern deserves the Oscar, the Wiener
    and the Schnitzel. No one else is even in in his hemisphere.
    Well, you could give it Bob Redford for 'All is Lost' but that's
    not gonna happen either. Both absolute masterpieces, both
    absolutely looked over. Just a glance to his son in the truck
    Full Review »
  3. Jan 2, 2014
    3
    I am a pretty sophisticated filmgoer... with a high capacity for quiet art films, but this roundly-lauded movie completely stumped me. I agree that Bruce Dern gives a consistent and compelling performance as a disgruntled, confused old codger on his peculiar quest. However, many long stretches of this film (especially the first third) barely rise above the level of a student video project: the acting rings amateurish, the dialogue is stiff with huge pauses/holes in the realistic reaction times of the characters (bad directing and editing there) and so many "atmospheric shots" of rusting cars or unpainted barns or abandoned main streets or weedy junky fields, etc. etc. etc. ad infinitum one feels hammered over the head by the black and white BLEAKNESS point the director wants to make. Every scene transition has half a dozen of these "get it?!" shots--it's rather maddening. There are two scenes in the whole move that SAVE the film: the compressor theft mishap and the final drive through town--both of which deliver the 'feel good' sentiment of the film. But they are NOT enough to be rating this rather poorly written and sloppily directed bleakfest an '89' on metacritic. I am rather dismayed by such applause for shoddy work by this director (he's capable of much better.) Full Review »