Director Chloé Zhao‘s new movie Nomadland continues its festival circuit hot streak, walking away from this year’s Toronto International Film Festival with the People’s Choice Award in hand. News of Nomadland‘s latest wins comes just one week after we reported the Searchlight Pictures feature starring Frances McDormand scooped up this year’s Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.
In an incredible twist, this year marks the first time the Venice Golden Lion prizewinner matches the TIFF People’s Choice Award winner — and that winner is Nomadland. The People’s Choice first runner-up is One Night in Miami, the feature directorial debut from 2019 Oscar winner Regina King. In Nomadland, McDormand plays Fern, a middle-aged woman living a nomadic existence after losing everything in the Great Recession of 2008. Nomadland is adapted from Jessica Bruder‘s novel of the same name.
This TIFF win will see the rarefied air around Zhao’s third feature film — and her last relatively low-key release before MCU Phase 4 flick Eternals — continue to intensify. Nomadland (as well as One Night in Miami) has emerged as an awards season frontrunner. The People’s Choice Award has often been a bellwether for Best Picture nominees at the Oscars. To wit, past People’s Choice winners include The Imitation Game, La La Land, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (the movie that earned McDormand an Oscar). While the People’s Choice buzz is beneficial to Nomadland‘s position in the conversation, nothing is certain about its place in the Oscars race.
Either way, having Nomadland and Zhao leading this year’s Oscars conversation feels refreshing and exciting. Zhao’s chances of entering into the Best Director conversation will likely increase significantly with these TIFF and Venice awards. Additionally, McDormand will probably move into this year’s Best Actress conversation thanks to the praise around her Nomadland performance. We still have a while to go before the Oscars air in April 2021, which means the nominations conversation is just starting up. It will be interesting to see how Nomadland fares between now and then.
Nomadland is set for theatrical release on December 4, 2020. For more, find out what’s (theoretically) coming to theaters later in 2020.
Allie Gemmill is the Weekend Contributing Editor for Collider. You can follow them on Twitter @_matineeidle.