If it feels like awards experts had been predicting major Oscar nominations for Chloe Zhao’s “Nomadland” for months, that’s because they did. The film premiered in September 2020 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” sat comfortably atop the Gold Derby experts charts in the Best Picture race since last fall.
That decision paid off on March 15 when “Nomadland” received six Oscar nominations at the 2021 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Head here for more on how to watch “Nomadland” and read on for a breakdown of its 2021 Oscar nominations.
Despite heavy competition, “Nomadland” has held firm as the front-runner on the Gold Derby charts since October. Heading into the nominations, 19 Gold Derby experts expected it to win the top prize. 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. 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 woman of color to win the honor. Since its debut on Hulu, Zhao has added a number of plaudits to her awards season haul: she won Best Director at the Golden Globes, and was nominated at both the Directors Guild Awards and BAFTA Awards in the top filmmaker category.
There’s good news and not-so-good news for star Frances McDormand: Every Gold Derby expert predicted she would 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 is leaning toward Mulligan (14 experts predict she will win), with Davis just behind (nine experts have her earning a second Oscar). Just one expert thinks McDormand will go the distance.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Another category, another clean sweep from the experts. All 28 experts expected Zhao to receive a nomination for adapting the book on which “Nomadland” was based for her script, with a majority anticipating a victory. 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, Francis Ford Coppola, and Billy Wilder.
In addition to those headline-grabbing nominations, “Nomadland” is also competing in two major below-the-line categories. The first is Best Cinematography, where Joshua James Richards landed his first nomination.
The other category where “Nomadland” received a nomination is in Best Editing, which gave Zhao four individual nominations in a single year, the most ever for a woman in the history of the Oscars.
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