Eric Ekwueme’s review published on Letterboxd:
🔘Director: Chloé Zhao
“I think I just watched this year’s Best Picture winner” - Me, immediately texting friends after finishing Nomadland directed by Chloé Zhao and starring Frances McDormand.
I want to amend that and say that I may have also watched this year’s Best Director, Actress, and Cinematography winner. Nomadland is that good.
When Fern (McDormand) loses everything during the Great Recession, she purchases a van to live in and begins to take seasonal jobs across the Western US. She begins to find community with other Nomads living in vans & RVs and we follow her over the course of a year as she discovers peace in her new life.
This movie, based off a non-fiction book, has all three things I’m a sucker for in films:
* A quiet and remarkable performance from our central character. Frances doesn’t have to even say much in this role because everything from her facial expressions to the way she walks clues us in on what’s happening within Fern’s mind. It’s a powerful display of acting.
* Breathtaking shots matched with an amazing score that beautifully establishes setting and tone. Chloé knows that the landscape is just as crucial as our actors in this story and gives us ample, unhurried, time to breathe in it.
* Generous screenwriting that allows us to fall in love with the side characters as much as we do the main. This was particularly authentic because most of the supporting cast are actual Nomads playing fictionalized versions of themselves.
My biggest critique with this film is that I wish there were more stories of Black, Hispanic, and Native nomads being spotlighted. I know that all stories can’t be told in a single movie, but this one did a good job at looking outside of our main character that it felt like a big missed opportunity.
I still have about 6 movies left to see for the 2020 Oscar race, so I may change my predictions in March/April, but I was blown away by this one. I’m not a gamblin’ man, but I think it’s safe to say Nomadland will get the awards recognition it deserves.