Everything to know about historic Oscar nominee ‘Nomadland’

Frances McDormand talks with Chloe Zhao
(Joshua Richards / Searchlight Pictures)

As “Nomadland” joins the list of 2021 Oscar nominees today with 6 nods, here’s a closer look at the making of the movie and the people involved.

2021 Oscar nominations: The complete list

March 15, 2021


The history-making nominations

Director Chloe Zhao is photographed in the backyard of her home
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)


Directors Chloé Zhao and Lee Isaac Chung (“Minari”) join the ranks of just four people of East Asian descent ever to be nominated in the category. Zhao also makes history as the first woman of color nominated for a directing Oscar.

Last month, Zhao won a Golden Globe for her work on “Nomadland” — which also won the prize for best picture, drama — making her the first woman of color, the first woman of Asian descent and just the second female director to do so. Here’s some critical context about Globes voters to keep in mind from our recent investigation.

As she’s demonstrated in her earlier features, “The Rider” (2017) and “Songs My Brothers Taught Me” (2015), Zhao advances a cinematic tradition of blending fiction and nonfiction with masterly assurance.

Learn more about Zhao’s story >>


The authenticity

Charlene Swankie from the film 'Nomadland'
(Todd Williamson / January Images)


The film, starring Frances McDormand and David Strathairn, follows a widow who loses her job and decides to live out of her van. Three real-life nomads — Linda May, Charlene Swankie and Bob Wells — brought authenticity and heart to the Oscar contender.

Here’s how >>


The response

Frances McDormand holding a cigarette
(Joshua Richards)

The award-winning road movie from writer-director Zhao is a gorgeous, lyrical weave of documentary and fiction, writes critic Justin Chang.

Read his full review >>


‘Nomadland’s’ Chloé Zhao is nominated alongside ‘Promising Young Woman’’s Emerald Fennell, the first time the academy has nominated more than one woman in the directing category in the same year.

March 15, 2021