Nomadland Scores with the National Critics

Momentum continued today for Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland to be a major Oscar player with the announcement of the National Society of Film Critics awards. It took 4 categories today – Best Picture, Director, Actress (Frances McDormand) and Cinematography.

The conventional wisdom right now is that if the Academy goes with the critics darling, Nomadland could be on its way to a Best Picture victory in April. Of course, they don’t always do that. They did last year with Parasite. They didn’t the year before with Roma. 

The Society actually names their first and second runners-up in the races and it was First Cow and Never Rarely Sometimes Always taking those spots. Both certainly have chances for Academy attention in the big competition, but I’ve yet to put either in my picks. Cow‘s maker Kelly Reichardt was second runner-up for her direction while Steve McQueen was first runner-up for Small Axe (which is not eligible for Oscar consideration since it’s a TV project).

McDormand is almost sure to get one of the five actress slots at the Oscars, though a win is much more questionable in a crowded field. Runners-up from the critics were Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) and Sidney Flanagan for Never Rarely.

In Best Actor, Delroy Lindo picked up another prize for Da 5 Bloods with Chadwick Boseman in Rainey and Riz Ahmed for Sound of Metal following. All three appear likely to make the final cut at the Oscars. Boseman was second runner-up in Supporting Actor for Bloods behind Paul Raci (Sound of Metal) and Glynn Turman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom). For Raci and Turman, they need as much critical love as possible to contend for Oscar.

Maria Bakalova picked up yet another reviewers award for her breakout role in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. I still question whether the Academy follows suit as comedic performers always have a tough time making the cut. Yet she’s certainly making her case. Runners-up were Amanda Seyfried (Mank) and Youn Yuh-jung (Minari).

The screenplay award went to Never Rarely Sometimes Always with First Cow and I’m Thinking of Ending Things in 2nd and 3rd. Best Foreign Language Film went to Romania’s Collective. 

Bottom line: Nomadland is having a fine run through the critics honors as it treks toward Oscar recognition.

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