In light of this aspect of this awards season, let’s spotlight five filmmakers whose unique storytelling talents have given us both a glimpse of our humanity and great entertainment.
Chloé Zhao (“Nomadland”)
This independent Chinese-born director uses real people and their life stories to enhance the authenticity of her fictional work. Her 2015 debut, “Songs Brothers Told Me,” took place on a reservation in South Dakota and focused on the bond between a Lakota Sioux brother and sister. His second feature film, “The Rider,” centered on a rodeo cowboy from the Badlands of South Dakota who suffers from brain damage after a fall. He gets close to a wayward Bronco named Apollo, who trains and helps him heal.
With “Nomadland,” Zhao recruited one of the most authentic and established actresses, Frances McDormand, to play Fern, a widow who joined a group of vagrants seeking temporary employment after the Great Recession, while by living in their RVs. Like Zhao’s previous films, his lead role is surrounded by real-life travelers, who celebrate the freedom and community shared by these vagrants. Since “Nomadland” won top awards at the Venice and Toronto festivals in September, it has been the favorite for Best Picture at the Oscars.
As for Zhao, she made Golden Globe history by becoming the second woman (after Barbra Streisand, who won for “Yentl” in 1983) and the first Asian woman to win, and is also considered the favorite in the competition. Achievement category at the Oscars. And, this week, she made the cut for the Directors Guild of America Award. Zhao already has another achievement in the works: She has joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe with her superhero thriller “The Eternals”, slated for release in November 2021.