At a glance, Nebraska seems to be about nothing more than an old man’s wandering and fading mind on search for a purpose but by the time the credits roll, the film lets wonder what is the truth behind mankind’s most basic desires. The film looks at how a person becomes a sum total of all their actions and interactions with their surrounding environment. The great simplicity behind Nebraska was recognized by the Academy through the six award nominations including nods for the best picture and best director for Alexander Payne. Also nominated for cinematography, the black and white film was shot by Phedon Papamichael on an Arri Alexa. Nebraska was not shot on traditional black and white film stock but rather was desaturated in colour during post-production to the version screen (sic) in cinemas. Payne commented that it was done so the studio had the ability to release the film in colour if they felt the urge to and for budgetary reasons. The veteran character actor Bruce Dern is also nominated for his performance of Woodrow Grant while his co-star June Squibb is nominated for her turn as his acerbic tongued wife, Kate. Debut feature film screenwriter Bob Nelson also scored a best original screenplay nomination for his quiet tale of the Grant family.
Nebraska was nominated for Best Picture, (losing to 12 Years a Slave) Best Director (Alexander Payne, who lose to Gravity's Alfonso Cuarón), Best Original Screenplay (Bob Nelson, losing to Spike Jonez' script for Her), Best Supporting Actress (June Squibb, who lost to Lupita Nyong'o for her performance in 12 Years a Slave), Best Actor (Bruce Dern, who lost to Matthew McConaughey's performance in Dallas Buyer's Club) and Best Cinematography (Phedon Papamichael, who lost to Gravity's Emmanuel Lubezki).
Papamichael should not lose heart; Lubezski's winning nomination was his sixth; another Cinematography nominee, Prisoners' Roger A. Deakins, has been nominated 11 times without collecting an Oscar.
Unrelated: Bret Gold in Motley Fool (!) says Will Forte beat out Casey Affleck, Paul Rudd, Matthew Modine, and supposedly even Bryan Cranston for the part of the son of Bruce Dern's character in Nebraska, which was shot on a production budget of just $12 million. It has earned about $17 million so far for Paramount.