Frances McDormand is on an odyssey of discovery in the critically acclaimed drama Nomadland. A new trailer has emerged for this thoughtful and quietly stirring road movie, directed by Chloe Zhao (The Rider, and soon to helm Marvel's Eternals).
McDormand plays Fern, a former primary school teacher who is reeling from an onslaught of personal tragedy. Her husband has recently died, and the mine at which he worked in Nevada is closing down, effectively causing their local town to dry up and lose its identity. Fern takes the opportunity to pare her life down to its barest essentials, putting her late partner's belongings into storage and hitting the road in a van.
She then takes her first steps into an itinerant, nomadic lifestyle, living off-grid and hopping from job to job in line with the movement of the seasons. Fern's journey takes her across the spine of America, a meandering yet purposeful experience that calls to mind the movement of the Western settlers in the 19th century. Fascinatingly, Fern's narrative dovetails with scenes involving real-life nomads, who relate their own experiences of this lifestyle and in the process lend added veracity.
This is an approach that won Zhao widespread praise for her 2018 movie The Rider. But unlike that film, she's now got A-list star power on her side in the form of McDormand. The two-time Oscar winner superbly carves out another depiction of a weathered, tenacious yet dignified soul who is struggling to find a coherent identity in 21st century America. Fern gains in experience from her interactions with her fellow nomads, coming to terms with a country that has failed to find a place for so many individuals.
The new Nomadland trailer arrives on the heels of the film's success at the Gotham Awards. These are notable independent film awards that can act as a bellwether of a film's Oscar chances – given that Nomadland scooped Best Feature Film and the Film Audience Award, we might imagine it'll do very well with the Oscar nominations. (They're announced on 15th March, ahead of the awards ceremony itself on 25th April.)
The movie's Gotham success trails a clutch of awards wins at other international ceremonies. Famously, Nomadland triumphed at the Venice Film Festival in 2020, grabbing the coveted top prize, the Golden Lion, for Zhao. The movie also did well at the Toronto International Film Festival 2020 where it won the People's Choice Awards. All of these wins will surely help bolster the film's Oscar chances, not to mention the raft of laudatory reviews.
Vanity Fair's Richard Lawson writes: "Nomadland is a near-seamless pairing of filmmaker and actor, the two working in delicate harmony as they trace Fern's loose, bittersweet trajectory."