South Western Times
Masterpiece is worthy of praise
Nomadland Rated: M Review: Ben O’Shea In Cinemas
If Nomadland doesn’t take home the Academy Award for best picture, it would be the biggest shock in the event’s history — and that includes Marisa Tomei’s best supporting actress win in 1993 for My Cousin Vinny.
The film has already won the Golden Globe for best drama, as well as a best director gong for Chloe Zhao, which adds to a burgeoning trophy cabinet that already includes a Gold Lion from Venice and the audience prize from Toronto.
It is, quite simply, the best film of the year.
Written, directed and edited by Zhao, Nomadland employs a cast of mostly non-actors to depict life
on the road for a group of people who have chosen a nomadic existence over the trappings of mainstream society.
Eschewing the American dream of owning a house and a white
picket fence, these nomads find a sense of purpose and belonging within a loose-knit community of fellow wanderers.
No nine-to-five for this lot, who would rather follow itinerant work around the country, whether that’s helping out at regional trailer parks or, in a statement of the times, taking short-term seasonal contracts with online shopping giant Amazon.
The notable exceptions to the non-actors in the cast are Frances McDormand, a two-time best actress winner at the Academy Awards, who may rightly be described as one of the greatest of all living actors, and the Oscar-nominated David Strathairn.
As you’d expect, McDormand is brilliant as Fern, a woman who has the nomad life thrust upon her by the death of her husband and closure of the local factory where she works, an event which also forces her town out of existence.
Managing to convey fragility as well as an indomitable spirit, McDormand’s character finds herself, and a great deal more, on the road less travelled.
She also poops in a bucket, which is surely not a career twist the actor ever saw coming.
Zhao, if you can believe it, made Nomadland during breaks in the pre-production of her highly anticipated Marvel blockbuster, Eternals, and it involved the director and McDormand literally living like nomads over a period of four months.
So, it is perhaps no surprise the end result rings with authenticity.
But what strikes you first is the sheer beauty of every frame, from the cinematography to the score by Ludovico Einaudi, with even the most mundane sequence lent a poignancy that speaks to a deeper understanding of modern life. Simultaneously joyous and heartbreaking, Nomadland is a masterpiece, a filmmaker’s film, and worthy of all the praise it’s getting.