‘Nebraska’ and ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ – Reel Reviews

By on February 19, 2014

Michael C. Upton - Reel Reviews

Michael C. Upton – Reel Reviews

Oscar contenders

As the Oscars approach, Reel Reviews continues to take a closer look at nominated films, this time with “Nebraska.” The Alexander Payne-directed (“The Descendants,” “Sideways”) film is up for six awards including Best Picture and Best Actor in a Leading Role.

“Nebraska” is the story of Woody (veteran actor Bruce Dern) and David Grant (Will Forte of Saturday Night Live fame and “MacGruber”), father and son who find more than they expect on a journey to cash in on a million dollar prize. Motivated by naiveté and a touch of dementia, Woody believes he can cash in on a marketing sweepstakes letter. Along the way the news of Woody’s false fortune spreads and takes the two on an epic adventure through extended family and Woody’s past. The duo are supported by a cast of classic actors like June Squibb (who plays Woody’s foul-mouthed wife) and Stacy Keach (as Woody’s former partner and conniving friend). In the end, all seems well with the Grants, but the question remains … is it really? Nebraska is a tale of life and how others perceive the lives of others.

Matthew McConaughey plays a rough and wild working man diagnosed with AIDS in “Dallas Buyers Club.” Photo courtesy of Universal Studios

Matthew McConaughey plays a rough and wild working man diagnosed with AIDS in “Dallas Buyers Club.” Photo courtesy of Universal Studios

At first, I thought the dialogue in “Nebraska” was disjointed. As I mused the intent with fellow theatergoers I learned all of my assumptions were wrong. It appears the characters speak exactly like people in the Cornhusker State. I have it on good authority because one of the audience members during my showing was from Nebraska-so much from Nebraska she knew one of the single-line actors in the film (Milford, Neb. resident Ronald Vosta who plays Uncle Albert). The delivery of dialogue allows the viewer to focus on the character traits of each individual as if under a microscope.

“Nebraska” is a triumphant film, which fills the soul with a myriad of emotions. It is funny while sad, beautiful while depressing. Filmed with the stunning use of black and white, “Nebraska” is picturesque and dazzling. It isn’t a must see on the big screen, but it sure does help. Get out and see “Nebraska” while it’s still in theaters.

‘Dallas Buyers Club’

Also up for six Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actor in a Leading Role, is the heart wrenching tale of Ron Woodroof as told in “Dallas Buyers Club.” Directed by Quebecois filmmaker Jean-Marc Vallée, “Dallas Buyers Club” recently made its way from the big screen (where it nearly quadrupled its production budget) to home theaters.

In “Dallas Buyers Club,” Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) is a rough and wild working man who rides bulls and parties hard. When he is diagnosed with AIDS and can’t find a treatment he goes into business for himself and others and procures unregulated medicine. With his cross-dressing business partner, Rayon (played by fellow nominee Jared Leto), Woodroof amasses a huge following of customers and the ire of law enforcement and medical practitioners.

In real life, Woodroof died in 1992, six years after being diagnosed with AIDS. He claimed to have run the club as a nonprofit and provided 60 experimental treatments for those afflicted with AIDS in a time when little was known of HIV.

McConaughey’s transformation into Woodroof is miraculous and the performance is nothing short of spectacular. Even while up against Christian Bale (“American Hustle”), Bruce Dern (“Nebraska”), Leonardo DiCaprio (“The Wolf of Wall Street”), and Chiwetel Ejiofor (“12 Years a Slave”) for Best Actor I feel McConaughey is guaranteed a win. This is not because his work is so much better than the others (especially Bale and Dern), but because the Academy owes it to McConaughey for his 2012 performance in “Mud.”

Agree or disagree? Reel Reviews works like this: 1) Watch a movie 2) Send suggestions, comments and criticism to Michael at SomeProMCU@gmail.com.

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