Oh! It’s good to be back! What better way to celebrate the reopening of cinemas that to immediately get right back to reviews? 0And what better film to start with than this years Best Picture winner? This past year with all the locking down and quarantining, though I was very much still in the loop with the current film news, this year’s best picture nominees were somewhat of a mystery to me. Whether it was because they weren’t released in the UK or because we didn’t know if the Oscars were going to take place at all, not much information found its way to me. Nevertheless, I’m almost glad that I knew little about Nomadland, because I don’t think I would have quite realised why this was chosen to win Best Picture.
Director Chloé Zhao opens up our eyes to the close community of Nomads living in America and it is clear as day that Nomadland is a film that was made to introduce you to this community. I was constantly looking for that togetherness spirit within the characters and, well, it’s everywhere. In every scene, every shot, every uttered piece of dialogue is integral to drawing out as much togetherness the characters feel for each other.
When you look into the film in detail, this was such an effortless factor to pull off, you have the main character Fern (Frances McDormand), a Nomad made this way after losing her job at a gypsum plant in Empire, Nevada. You also have Dave (David Strathairn), a Nomad who develops a romantic attachment to Fern. However, it’s the supporting cast where the real awe can be found because everyone around McDormand are real life Nomads, people who play dramatized versions of themselves. This is something Chloé Zhao dabbled in with her earlier film The Rider and I think it doesn’t matter if you go into Nomadland with this knowledge, you’ll still be tricked into thinking these were real actors. I think that alone shows the mark of an amazing and patient director.
Frances McDormand as ever is astonishingly brilliant. There is a lot of focus on her performance as Fern, its very much oriented on her journey through the US wilderness, how she goes from place to place working various part time jobs and also the welcoming people she meets. I think what McDormand does brilliantly is showing the tiredness Fern has. She is fed up with having a normal life but there are also brilliant moments where the stresses of her chosen lifestyle start to have an effect on her.
The cinematography really does make the Nomad lifestyle look beautiful. It shot almost like a Terrance Mallick film and it’s just as hypnotic. You have these beautiful wide angles that make the scenery just as important as the person in focus. There are a lot of scenes that seem to be shot during the “Golden Hour” and you have a great colour pallet of warm and cold colours depending on the scene. Put all of this together and you have cinematography that much like the performances of the actors, invite you into this community and makes you want to look at it closer, like there’s more to uncover.
Nomadland may have one factor that could put people off. It really is depending on how you like your narratives because Nomadland isn’t the traditional three act structure. If your one of those people who like a structured beginning, middle, end story, the chances are you may not enjoy Nomadland as much as others. Something I felt people would complain about is how at times, it may seem like there is nothing happening. It will also feel like at times that there is no sort of conflict the characters have to battle with.
In a way, Nomadland is shot more like a documentary than a feature length film. Some may argue that this style suits the films’ goal perfectly and it probably does. But I think we’ve seen enough films in out lives to expect some sort of conflict or goal characters have to battle or achieve, and if you’ve never encountered a film like Nomadland you’re either going to allow yourself to be open to it or reject it off the bat.
Of course the big question is if this film is deserving of Best Picture. I’ve been on a small agreement streak when it comes to the Academy Awards, the past three winners of the Best Picture award I have agreed should have won. However, with Nomadland, the streak is broken. Absolutely, this film is by no means terrible. Other accolades it has won are thoroughly deserved, but something deep down in me just can’t see it as Best Picture material.
Please, please don’t let this put you off seeing Nomadland, because what this film set out to achieve, it has done by the barrel load. The performances, even by the non-actors are astonishing, Frances McDormand is one of the most incredible actors currently working at the moment. Chloé Zhao has announced to the world that she is a directing force that is only going to get even stronger with Nomadland, and to all you cinematography aspirers, you can appreciate the camerawork wildly.
Nomadland is a perfect choice of film for welcoming you back to cinemas, let’s hope that they can stay open permanently now because I’m more certain than ever that all the delays in other films, with the exception of a few, will be worth the wait.
Final Result: 8/10 – Very Good
Have you seen Nomadland? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
Next Time: Mortal Kombat