Chloé Zhao and 'Nomadland's History-Making Journey to the Oscars

Despite premiering in the midst of a pandemic, Chloé Zhao and the Nomadland team have still made waves in the industry. The Beijing-born filmmaker and her drama film just took home Best Director and Best Picture at the 2021 Oscars, making Zhao the first woman of Asian descent and overall second woman to win Best Director in the Academy Awards’ 92-year history. Her accomplishments are steps in the direction that will help get rid of the narrative that Asian women in film are nothing more than caricatures — that they are humans with real backstories and emotions that can succeed both in front of and behind the camera.

To celebrate the filmmaker’s historic wins, HYPEBEAST has compiled a list of major awards that Zhao and Nomadland have picked up so far.

77th Venice International Film Festival

Nomadland’s first three wins, Zhao took home the Fair Play Cinema Award, SIGNIS Award – Honorable Mention and coveted Golden Lion during the September 2020 ceremony. She is one of only five women who have won the Golden Lion for directing, joining Margarethe von Trotta, Agnès Varda, Mira Nair and Sofia Coppola.

2020 Toronto International Film Festival

A few days after winning big at the Venice Film Festival, the filmmaker went on to triumph over One Night in Miami… and Beans to nab the Grolsch People’s Choice Award — an accolade that many consider as the jump-off point for the Oscars.

78th Golden Globe Awards

In late February 2021, Nomadland received four nominations at the Golden Globes — Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama for Frances McDormand, Best Director for Zhao and Best Screenplay — and took home Best Motion Picture – Drama and Best Director. Zhao’s win makes her only one of two women to ever take home Best Director after Barbara Streisand for 1983’s Yentl.

74th British Academy Film Awards

Across the pond, Nomadland received the most nominations alongside Rocks and won four of the nods: Best Film, Best Director for Zhao, Best Actress in a Leading Role for McDormand and Best Cinematography for Joshua James Richards. Zhao’s win as Best Director made her only the second woman in the awards ceremony’s history to nab the award after Kathryn Bigelow in 2010.

36th Film Independent Spirit Awards

Nomadland went home with the most trophies from the Independent Spirit Awards, winning four of its nominations: Best Feature, Best Director and Best Editing for Zhao (her fourth overall) and Best Cinematography for Joshua James Richards.

93rd Academy Awards

To close out the awards season, Zhao and the Nomadland cast and crew received six nominations and won three, namely Best Actress for McDormand and the coveted Best Picture and Best Director for Zhao. The filmmaker is the first woman of Asian descent and only the second woman overall to ever take home Best Director in the Oscars’ 92-year history.
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