If it feels like awards experts have been predicting major Oscar nominations for Chloe Zhao’s “Nomadland” for months, that’s because they have. The film premiered in September at the Venice Film Festival, where it won the Golden Lion award, the prestigious event’s top honor. It also earned the audience award at the Toronto International Film Festival that same month, another reliable Best Picture indicator. As a result of that strong initial showing, “Nomadland” has sat comfortably atop the Gold Derby experts charts in the Best Picture race.
Five months later, general audiences can see what all the fuss has been about. “Nomadland” made its debut Friday, February 19 on Hulu, where subscribers can watch the film right now. (“Nomadland” is also out in limited theatrical release where theaters are open; head here for more on how to watch “Nomadland.”)
How many Oscar nominations can “Nomadland” reasonably expect to land next month? Ahead, a breakdown of the six categories where “Nomadland” is predicted to compete based on the 2021 Oscars odds.
Despite heavy competition, “Nomadland” has held firm as the front-runner on the Gold Derby charts since October. There are currently 28 experts predicting a Best Picture nomination for “Nomadland,” with 15 expecting it to win. The Searchlight release remains well ahead of films like Netflix’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (which eight experts have taking home the top prize) and “Minari” (which has come on strong in recent weeks thanks to its showing at the Screen Actors Guild Awards and Critics Choice Awards). If “Nomadland” can hang on to win, it would be the first Searchlight release to earn Best Picture since the company was acquired by Disney as part of the corporation’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox. Previous Searchlight movies to win Best Picture include “The Shape of Water,” “Birdman,” and “12 Years a Slave.”
The Best Picture race has some wiggle room, but there is near-unanimous consensus around Best Director. Chloe Zhao has led among the contenders since October and is an overwhelming favorite to win the Best Director Oscar at the April ceremony: 28 experts predict Zhao will receive a nomination and 26 expect her to convert that honor into a victory. If Zhao wins, it will be a historic moment for the Oscars. She would become only the second woman to ever receive a Best Director Oscar after Kathryn Bigelow and the first Asian-American woman to win the honor. Among the experts, the only other directors predicted to win are David Fincher for “Mank” (one vote) and Aaron Sorkin for “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (one vote).
There’s good news and not-so-good news for star Frances McDormand: Every Gold Derby expert predicts she’ll receive her sixth Oscar nomination and third Best Actress nomination for her nuanced, immersive work in “Nomadland.” But while McDormand was initially seen as a favorite to win her third Best Actress Oscar in the race’s early days, she’s currently sitting in third place behind the ascendant Carey Mulligan for “Promising Young Woman” and Viola Davis for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” According to the experts, the heated Best Actress race is split between Mulligan and Davis (10 experts predicting a victory each) with McDormand just behind with five experts expecting she’ll win.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Another category, another clean sweep from the experts. All 28 experts expect Zhao to receive a nomination for adapting the book on which “Nomadland” was based for her script, with a majority anticipating a victory. Nineteen experts predict “Nomadland” will win Best Adapted Screenplay, putting it well ahead of the presumed runner-up, Kemp Powers’s screenplay for “One Night in Miami.” If Zhao is able to win Best Picture (she’s a producer on “Nomadland”), Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay, she’ll join a select group of filmmakers to receive that trio of Oscars, including Bong Joon-Ho, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Ethan and Joel Coen, James L. Brooks, Woody Allen, Francis Ford Coppola, and Billy Wilder.
In addition to those headline-grabbing nominations, “Nomadland” should also compete in two major below-the-line categories. The first is Best Cinematography, where Joshua James Richards is predicted to land his first nomination. Twenty-seven experts have “Nomadland” receiving a nomination with six experts predicting Richards will win an Oscar. That puts him in a runner-up position behind “Mank” cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt, whom 20 experts predict will emerge victoriously.
The other category where “Nomadland” should receive a nomination is in Best Editing, which — were it to happen — would give Zhao four individual nominations in a single year. Zhao is expected to earn a nomination here as an editor (25 experts have her slotted in), but she’s currently a runner-up to “The Trial of the Chicago 7” editor Alan Baumgarten in the race for Oscars gold.