By Chris Hendrickson, Monitor
It may not seem like the city of Sultan has a whole lot in common with a Hollywood event like the Academy Awards, but Sultan’s longtime Deputy Finance Director Laura Koenig will be paying particularly close attention to who wins what this year. Her brother happens to be one of the 2014 nominees.
The movie “Nebraska,” which has been nominated for six Academy Awards, was written by Koenig’s younger brother; Whidbey Island resident Bob Nelson. In addition to being nominated for Best Original Screenplay, the movie is also up for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Cinematography. The Academy Awards will be held on Sunday, March 2.
Not surprisingly, Koenig and her siblings originally hail from… Nebraska. After relocating to Washington, the family moved to Kent, which is where Koenig grew up.
Koenig said she definitely noticed a strong family resemblance when she watched the film.
The movie, a drama with a comedic twist, is shot in black-and-white and portrays a strained father-son relationship. The two are thrust together as they take a road trip from Billings, Mont. to Lincoln, Neb. The unlikely traveling companions embark on the trip due to the father’s belief that he has won a million-dollar sweepstakes prize, which he will be able to claim once he arrives in Nebraska.
Actor Bruce Dern, who plays the father, won the Best Actor Award at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.
Nelson, who has a cameo in the film, is not at all a stranger to being in front of a camera. For years he was featured on the local KING-5 sketch-comedy show, Almost Live.
“I think that ran for 15 years,” said Koenig. “Then he did a show with John Keister; The John Report with Bob.”
In addition to Nelson’s cameo, another one of Koenig’s family members was given the opportunity to make a splash on the big screen.
“My mom is actually in the movie,” said Koenig. “There is a scene in a restaurant where they have buffet customers, and she is one of the buffet customers.”
Koenig’s mother, Jean Wilson, resides in Kent.
Koenig is not the only person in her family to view the film with a feeling of nostalgia and familiarity. Her older brother, Don Nelson, is a journalist who owns a Twisp-area newspaper called the Methow Valley News. Nelson wrote a column about the film in December, shortly after he watched it.
“While the plot device is something Bob picked up years ago from a newspaper story, the movie’s narrative is largely about our family experiences,” wrote Nelson. “So of course I recognized things.”
Nelson explained in his article that friends and relatives have often inquired as to how much of the movie is modeled after their family experiences.
“The best way I can answer is to say it’s authentic. The main character, Woody Grant, is modeled after my father and his brothers (he had eight of them, and eight sisters as well),” wrote Nelson.
Koenig and the rest of her family will be watching the awards show in support.
“You’ve got to have the family rooting for you,” said Koenig.