NOMADLAND will be impossible to ignore this awards season
I’ve been campaigning to “put Frances McDormand in every film” for years now. I will always, without question, see every and any film she is in, whether she is the lead or has a 30-second cameo. McDormand’s presence with an extremely simple, short, and quiet trailer of Nomadland immediately drew me in for one of my top contenders of 2020.
Chloe Zhao is starting to stack up Best Director awards across the board, rightfully so. Her direction of this film is definitely the best of the year--and it would be devastating if she did not receive a nomination for the Best Director category in every awards ceremony possible. Everything she does here is just right. Her ability to make such big, vast outdoor spaces seem so close and personal is almost effortless because it is so balanced and well done. The way she puts the picturesque landscapes against the huge warehouses of industry in America delivers a direct message about life in the United States; dreams versus reality.
Fern (Frances McDormand) loses everything due to a recession, and decides to travel across Western American figuring out life and what it means to live along the way. She meets people who she learns tactical survival methods from spending their lives on the road, developing friendships and connections that last for life. Fern takes odd jobs in odd places, always making the best of whatever situation she finds herself in at any moment. A hard-worker, determined to get through her struggles and maintain her sense of self, Fern’s humility is filled with intimacy and emotion that will move you in unexpected ways. The exploration of not having a home versus homelessness is so fascinating, I found myself continuing to ponder over these concepts and unconventional ways of living.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Italian neorealism films normalized using non-professional actors in the 1940s, focusing their stories on poor and working class people and filming on location. Popular shows like The Wire (HBO) successfully did this, too, in the early 2000’s--and is one of the reasons why the show was so wonderful and unique. Nomadland is added to the top of this list because the non-professional actors are what make this film so incredibly special and poetic. What better way to show the human condition than through real-life humans, and not Hollywood actors? At times this narrative felt like it could have been a documentary because of the non-professional actors and their commitment to what can only be understood as accuracy. The connections you feel to these characters will leave you tearful in moments, and genuinely laughing in others. You will want to buy a van and join them on the road.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
The beauty of Nomadland is the multiple golden hours it captures and displays without shoving it down your throat. This film undoubtedly features some of the best cinematography of the year. The lack of visual effects and make-up only heighten the pure and raw beauty of the landscapes of the open space that Fern and others now consider to be their homes.
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
This is one of my favorite scores of the year and considering how beautifully it moves the story along and pulls at your heartstrings with perfect timing, it is a bummer that it won’t be a contender for the Oscars. Not enough of the material was originally written for the film, so it does not qualify. That will not stop you from wanting to revisit these sounds after the film is over.
Whenever and however you can safely see Nomadland (hopefully on the biggest screen possible) see Nomadland. It will guarantee to warm your heart in unexpected ways, leave you in awe of its beauty, and infected by the charm of Frances McDormand, and the nonprofessional actors will become your friends. You will root for their successes and find sorrow in their losses. Nomadland will be impossible to ignore this awards season--you do not want to miss it.