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Chloé Zhao's sprawling drama starring Frances McDormand has made Globes history.

By Joey Nolfi
February 28, 2021 at 11:20 PM EST
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Nomadland has passed another landmark on its monumental trek across the awards season landscape.

Director Chloé Zhao's sprawling drama starring Frances McDormand has added another trophy to its growing awards mantle, as the critically lauded film closed Sunday night's Golden Globes ceremony by winning Best Motion Picture — Drama, becoming the category's first female-directed winner in its 78-year history.

Accepting the accolade, Zhao thanked her fellow nominees as well as McDormand for helping her create the film's central character, but she also paid tribute to "the nomads" that inspired the film.

"Nomadland, at its core for me, is a pilgrimage through grief and healing," she said. "So for everyone who's gone through this difficult and beautiful journey at some point in their lives, this is for you. We don't say goodbye, we say, 'See you down the road.'"

Nomadland
Credit: NBC

Nomadland — which traveled the 2020 festival circuit from Venice to Toronto, earning prestigious prizes such as the Golden Lion and the TIFF People's Choice Award — follows McDormand as Fern, a drifter who travels the American West on a quest for fulfillment after economic strife decimated her small hometown.

Widely expected to take the award, Zhao's film triumphed over David Fincher's Mank, Aaron Sorkin's The Trial of the Chicago 7, Florian Zeller's The Father, and Emerald Fennell's Promising Young Woman.

Over the last decade, only three Golden Globe winners for Best Picture — Drama have gone on to claim the Academy's corresponding prize: Argo12 Years a Slave, and Moonlight. Last year, the Academy's eventual Best Picture winner, Parasite, was ineligible for a Golden Globe nomination in the category due to a longstanding rule that prevents predominantly foreign-language films from competing.

Zhao, Fennell, and One Night in Miami director Regina King helped make Golden Globes history at the 78th ceremony, as they were all nominated for Best Director in a year that saw the Hollywood Foreign Press Association recognize more than one woman in the category for the first time. Zhao ultimately won that award, becoming the first Asian woman — and only the second woman in history — to do so.

Nomadland remains poised for Oscar glory as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences nominations loom, having now landed with virtually every major precursor awards body with and without AMPAS crossover, from the Critics Choice Awards through to the Screen Actors Guild.

"To me, my mind goes to something that feels a bit more universal, which is: In solitude, we can find ourself. In nature, we can heal. And in the community, we can find support. Those are the things we take for granted when things are going okay," Zhao previously told EW of the film's themes dovetailing with feelings of global isolation amid the coronavirus pandemic. "And when things fall apart, we have to go back to some of the basic stuff that humanity has had since the very beginning to support itself — and to then find a new balance in our lives."

Nomadland is now streaming on Hulu.

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