“Nomadland,” Starring Frances McDormand, Wins Golden Lion at Venice Film Festival

Chloé Zhao's film opens later this year

A scene from "Nomadland."

This year’s Venice Film Festival was something of an outlier in terms of events held since the pandemic began: it neither pivoted to an online-only format nor worked to establish a hybrid format. In a recent conversation at NPR, Deadline’s Andreas Wiseman noted that it was the “only major festival that is really taking the plunge in terms of a physical event.”

The festival’s lineup included selections from around the world, and a large number of independently-produced films. But when it came time to announce the winner of the festival’s prestigious Golden Lion, the winner was the Searchlight Pictures-produced Nomadland, a drama starring Frances McDormand and directed by Chloé Zhao.

Advance reviews for the film, which is set to open in December 6, have hailed McDormand’s performance and Zhao’s documentary-style filmmaking.

Writing at RogerEbert.com, Brian Tallerico spoke rapturously about the work done by the film’s star. “It’s one of the best career performances from one of our best actresses,” Tallerico wrote. “It’s just breathtaking.”

He also hailed Zhao’s work, which includes performances by a number of non-actors and visually striking shots. “It’s honestly hard to figure out how Zhao has made a film that’s this beautiful in its compositions and somehow still feels like it has dirt under its fingernails.”

Deadline’s report on the festival includes the full list of award winners — including Vanessa Kirby’s Volpi Cup win for Best Actress in the film Pieces of a Woman. The film was the subject of a high-profile deal during the festival, with Netflix picking up the distribution rights.

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