Simple. Sly. Subtle. Sensational. I’ve run out of words that begin with the letter “S” that describe Alexander Payne’s Nebraska. This film keeps popping up on EPIX HD and every time I notice that it’s on I end up watching it from wherever it’s at in the narrative. The colorized version was an interesting experiment, and I can see why Payne would be interested in trying to see how the film would play in a desaturated color zone, but this film truly feels as if it’s living in black and white; there was no other option. I’ve loved every movie that Payne has put his name on – everything always feels just right, as if there were no other options for him (it’s a very similar feeling I get while watching work from the Coen brothers). Bruce Dern breaks your heart slowly and deceptively in the lead role of a lifetime, June Squibb stole every single scene that she appeared in, and Will Forte hit notes of surprising emotional depth that I didn’t know were in him as a performer. This is the sort of movie that might hit home too hard for some people; as always, Payne wraps his dark story with an abundance of dry humor, this time courtesy of debut screenwriter Bob Nelson, whose sardonic touch fits perfectly with the shivery, monochromatic cinematography of long-time Payne collaborator Phedon Papamichael. Bleak yet filled with lots of heart, achingly sad yet strangely upbeat, honest when it needs to be, and frequently laugh-out-loud-funny, this is yet another small gem from one of America’s best and most consistent filmmakers.