This year’s beautifully lyrical, multi-Oscar-winning Nomadland is one to enjoy with your whole heart and the perfect way of gently welcoming you back to the Kinos.
Based on the affecting 2017 non-fiction book by Jessica Bruder, Chloé Zhao’s third film is a devastating yet hopeful portrait of life on the fringes of American society which chronicles a year in the life of widow Fern (Frances McDormand, who became only the third person in Oscar history to bag three Best Actress awards with this role). She has lost everything in the 2008 Great Recession and begins to live as a modern-day nomad, going from site to site and job to job in her van, meeting other newly dispossessed American migrants who have fallen through the failed promises of the American Dream.
Recalling at times the work of Kelly Reichardt, Zhao’s direction shows the full extent of her talents as a storyteller here: her empathetic lens makes the audience care for all the protagonists in the frame, and the political and social implications she delves into never feel didactic or overshadow her tribute to perseverance and the ways humans interact with (gorgeously filmed) nature. Nomadland may be one of the most left-field Oscar winners in recent memory – it’s the furthest thing from a traditional crowd-pleaser as you get – but it’s undoubtedly one of those rare occasions when the Academy gets it right. Rush to see this melancholic masterpiece as soon as you can.
Nomadland / Directed by Chloé Zhao (US, 2020), with Frances McDormand, Charlene Swankie, David Strathairn. Starts July 1.