Road to the Oscars: Chloe Zhao’s “Nomadland” Wins Prestigious Hollywood Directors’ Award

The film Nomadland by Chloe Zhao won the prestigious award for best feature film on Saturday April 10, awarded by the Association of American Directors (DGA). The director dedicated her victory speech to praising her fellow nominees, who now have to wonder how to catch up with her critically acclaimed, multi-award-winning road movie ahead of the Oscars on April 25.

Also nominated in the premier category were directors David Fincher (Mank), Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) and Lee Isaac Chung (Minari), who will also be in the running for the Oscar for Best Director.

So far, only one woman has won the award for best feature film: Kathryn Bigelow for Minesweepers, which turned the essay into the Oscars in 2009. “I want to thank you for teaching me so much and for supporting me. You made this trip so much more special”, the 39-year-old director, previously known for her film, told rivals via videoconference The Rider.

DGA awards are considered a good indicator of a film’s chances of winning the Oscar for Best Director. Chloe Zhao is considered the big favorite. If, last year, the DGA preferred Sam Mendes (1917) to Bong Joon-ho (Parasite), she correctly predicted the winner the previous six years.

Nomadland, a semi-fictional drama, follows a community of elderly Americans living in pickup trucks, left behind by the Great Recession, who forge a fleeting new life in the American West.

Beijing native Chloe Zhao said she hoped that through her film viewers could “to experience the life of people whom they can consider as ‘the Other'” and so “to feel a little less alone”. She described the staging as an outlet and a remedy for her own experience of “very intense loneliness”.

Although less important than the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild Awards (SAG Awards), the DGAs have a longer lifespan and their 18,000 voters, including the best directors in the sector, offer prestigious recognition.

Association President Thomas Schlamme opened the virtual awards ceremony from the state-of-the-art Guild Theater in Hollywood. He himself won an award for a special episode of the series To the White House (West Wing), intended to stimulate turnout in U.S. elections.

Best Director Award went to Darius Marder for his film Sound of Metal, which follows a heavy metal drummer who goes deaf, also nominated for the Oscars in the category best film. The director thanked the deaf community for “to have invited us to come in, to share your culture, with us, with the film, with the screen”.

The prize for the best documentary was awarded to The Truffle Hunters, which follows a group of elderly Italians and their loyal dogs in their centuries-old tradition of searching for culinary delights in the forest.

The last season of the television series Homeland won the drama series award. A sign that times are changing, its director Lesli Linka Glatter connected to the ceremony from a very real party with “my whole team of directors fully vaccinated”.

The Flight Attendant won the award for best comedy series, while The Lady’s Game continued its sweep of the award season in the limited series category.

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Road to the Oscars: Chloe Zhao’s “Nomadland” Wins Prestigious Hollywood Directors’ Award

Hank Gilbert