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(WLTX) -We're less than two months away from Oscar night- which means it's the time of year whenMidlands theaters havesome golden nuggets circulating alongside those big holiday blockbusters! I rang in the new year with a coupleof road movies that will likely have some lead acting contenders fromtheir veteran stars.

"Philomena" is the (mostly) truestory of an elderly lady's search for her long, lost son. She gave birth to him as a teen in a convent and was forced to give him up for adoption when he was three. With theaid of a journalist, she sets out to reunite with the boy she knew as Anthony.
Despite some bumps in the road, Philomena's journey comes full-circle.Reunions take place, friendships are made and a small degree of justice is served. But, most importantly, there is closure.
However, devout Catholics may not share the same appreciation. The convent doesn't get the most favorable of edits.It's symbolically portrayed as a prison and, ultimately, as a den of controversy. Regardless, it's a powerful movie with an excellent lead performance by Judi Dench.
Meanwhile, Bruce Dern is determined to get to Nebraska tocollect his million dollars. What most would regard as "junk mail" is perceived as a winning ticket to this old-timer and he's too stubborn to think otherwise.
After several unsuccessful attemptsat walking the 900 mile trek, his son finally surrenders andaims to drive his father to his destination...if only to put the matter to rest. But detours bring up the past and new issues emerge.
Director Alexander Payne, once again, takes us on a journey of self-discovery - much like he did with "About Schmidt" and "Sideways." However, this time, it'ssimpler, more comedicand shot in black-and-white.
Both movies have strong supporting performances by actors who are more known for comedy. But it's the lead performances that carry the films and a great encore to two excellent careers. Catch them before they're gone!

By Lee O. Smith, News19 Movie Reviewer

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