Nebraska (2013): Father and son travel across a few states to collect the father's million dollars that he won through an entirely illegitimate letter in the mail. Bonding ensues.
Bruce Dern and Will Forte are the reasons to go see this if you want a good ol' fashioned father-son bonding movie. They have phenomenal chemistry together and made the movie extremely interesting, despite the fact that I didn't completely buy some of the changes-of-heart that Dern has (supposedly) towards the end. The supporting cast is great as well, with Bob Odenkirk of Breaking Bad acclaim and June Squibb leading the way. Squibb as Dern's wife is awesome, by the way. She may be the centerpiece of what is far and away the worst scene in the movie involving a cemetery, but she had about three DAMN moments all throughout the movie. The movie is well-told, with a fantastic classic Alexander Payne-style ending. I really had no major problem here, minus Dern's character as a whole. It is shot in black and white, which I'm still not a huge fan of, and the story is not one that will appeal to the masses, but it was still wildly enjoyable. If you want some father bonding time, watch this movie with him. You will enjoy it!
My number: 8.5/10 Somewhere between great and awesome
Philomena (2013): British journalist Martin Sixsmith discovers Philomena Lee, an Irish mother searching for her long lost son, and helps her find out the truth about him.
Damn. Talk about a movie I didn't see coming. I don't think anyone did. But holy crap is it good. The acting is superb, including Steve Coogan, and the screenplay is even better. I'd say the screenplay is the reason that Steve Coogan is as great as he is. The writing (also co-written by Coogan and Jeff Pope) allows Coogan to bring out his comedic side without it dominating the picture. Of course, the star here is Judi Dench. This movie is another wonderful reminder of how good Dench is as an actress. I tend to forget that when I see her play M in the Bond films. (Besides Skyfall) But she is brilliant as the lead, creating one of the most interesting female characters I saw on screen in 2013. Actually, she just might be the most interesting female character I saw on a screen in 2013. I'm going to have to add her to the best acting performances....anyway, the story is remarkable. While some of the journalism ethics issues that are brought up in the movie are mostly ignored towards the end, and this is the biggest fault of the film, the main storyline revolving around Philomena was heart-wrenching. Honestly? This is getting an absolute must-see recommendation from me. This just might be the best British movie since The King's Speech. Just might.
My number: 9/10 Awesome
Since I am reviewing both, I will now talk about both. WHOA. I CAN DO THAT. If you are to see one of these two movies, absolutely see Philomena. Honestly I was surprised at how much more invested I was with this story than I was Nebraska, despite my ability to relate to Nebraska's story in a way. The acting in Philomena is better, but only slightly. I think it's just the writing. The writing of Philomena is a bit more dramatized than that of Nebraska, and I tend to like that. Alexander Payne keeps Nebraska insanely down-to-earth, which isn't necessarily my cup of tea. It might be for you, but not for me. So, while Philomena may not be one of the best films of 2013, (I don't know where it ranks yet exactly) it is definitely worth your time. So there you go! I think I did them justice. Thanks for reading everyone!