After five decades in the business and a long string of supporting roles playing sociopaths and villains, 77 year-old Hollywood veteran, Bruce Dern, finally takes centre stage in Alexander Payne's incredibly poetic, tremendously moving drama, Nebraska.

Shot entirely in black and white, Nebraska follows Woodrow 'Woody' T. Grant (Dern); an elderly, progressively senile ex-alcoholic. After receiving a letter informing him that he has won a million dollars from a suspicious sweepstakes campaign, he is determined to make his way from Montana to Nebraska and claim his prize.

After failing to convince his delusional father that the prize money is a hoax, his son David (Forte) agrees to drive him to Lincoln, Nebraska, taking the opportunity to spend some quality time with his aging father.

Soon after hitting the road, the duo makes an unexpected stop in Woody's hometown of Hawthorne, where they're joined by his wife, Kate (Squibb) and David's older brother Ross (Odenkirk); both of whom think that Woody should be admitted to a home for the elderly. Their visit soon attracts unwanted attention when word spreads of Woody's newly-found fortune, bringing distant family members, old friends and foes, looking for a piece of the actions.

With his slumped posture and shuffling feet, Dern is absolutely riveting as Woody who, thanks to the years of drinking and childhood heartache, has managed to alienate himself from the world and everyone around him. Delivering a powerful and a quietly moving performance, Dern paints his character with a haunted look of a man who still appears to be connected with reality, but who chooses to find solace in his own world of imagination. As his sharp-tongued wife, Squibb is absolutely glorious, and delivers some of the film's most hilarious moments. As Woody's voice of reason, Forte goes for a gentle, unassuming performance, portraying a man struggling to find meaning to his existence, and a son who desperately wants to preserve a connection to his fading father.

Directed by Alexander Payne and written by Bob Nelson, Nebraska has an air of minimalism throughout. Thanks to the wonderful work of cinematographer, Phedon Papamichael – and lingering guitar-based scores by Mark Orton – each shot feels right in the moment, and manages to correspond wonderfully to Woody's state of mind.

Sad, humorous and graceful, Nebraska is a beautifully written character-driven drama that portrays the warmth of humanity, and the need for tolerance, in a very moving and restrained way.