Nomadland

Nomadland ★★★★

Watching Nomadland far enough removed from its Oscar season, it feels like a minor miracle that this unassuming, almost documentary-like little film not just won Best Picture and Best Director, but was the frontrunner to win both early on, to the point that I doubt any of Chloé Zhao's fellow nominees even bothered to prepare a speech. There is no fake drama here, and no manipulative attempts to go for easy emotions. Films like Nomadland are usually the ones that fly under the Academy's radar, but something obviously clicked here, and I am happy to see its name on the winners list.

On the surface, Frances McDormand's win in a highly contentious lineup seems even more miraculous - a performance very much like the film she is in, unobtrusive and unpretentious, with no obvious Oscar clips or breakdowns, but many scenes of wistful staring into the mid-distance instead. It is the kind of performance that usually only gets recognized in retrospect, a few years down the line, when audiences as a collective realize how much it resonated with them over time. And it is such a deserving win, for a kind of performance that usually tends to get overlooked, because it feels so natural. There are no movie star or even actress airs about her, instead she blends in with the lay actors around her as if she was one of them, plucked from obscurity by Chloé Zhao like, say, Lamberto Maggiorani and Carlo Battisti were by Vittoria de Sica when he made Bicycle Thieves and Umberto D.

It's a little treasure of a film.

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