‘It’s an honor just to be nominated’ says one of the characters in ‘The Trial of the Chicago 7’, which in spite of six nominations received zero Oscars. Not everybody can win. And that’s ok.
This year ‘Nomadland’ received three statuettes, the most of all of the films. The first one was for Directing (Chloe Zhao), the second one for the Actress in the Leading Role (Frances McDormand), and the last one in the most important category — The Best Picture.
Is it really the best film made last year? It depends on your criteria. Oscars winners are always a mixture of good cinema, big money and politics. But really bad films don’t even get nominated. And it is a great film. I actually enjoyed watching it a lot and it felt very spiritual to me. It follows Fern, an older woman, who after her husband’s death starts a nomadic life. She lives in her van and travel across America, from one seasonal job to another.
She meets people, who like her, choose freedom over money and simple life over stability. They are very connected to the nature and create a specific community, supporting each other both physically and mentally. Their lives are maybe not easy, because they pay a price for their choices, but what they get in return is fulfillment.
Fern is not ready to give it up. Even though she obviously appreciates the importance of the family, at the same time she just cannot lead the so called ‘normal’ life. The road calls her over and over again and she just has to leave. Sometimes she says goodbye and sometimes she just disappears without a word. She is like a wild bird that cannot be caged or it would die. She needs her freedom, her independence and the unknown just like she needs water and air to breath.
This film reminded me of another one — ‘Into the Wild’, which was nominated for two Oscars in 2008. Based on a real story of Chris McCandless, also known as Alexander Supertramp, it romanticized the life of a nomad. It was a more idealized version of the same way of life. It was however targeted at another age group – young people disillusioned by consumerism. For some people he was a hero, for others just a victim of his own inexperience and naivety. Until now it is argued if he poisoned himself by eating wrong fruits or just starved to death because he didn’t have a map and didn’t want to leave his Magic Bus where he found a shelter.
In ‘Nomadland’ most of the characters are older, more mature and experienced. But also disillusioned. They are looking for a simple human connection. Often they are grieving or trying to forgive themselves and others. They understand what is important in life and leave behind everything that is not. They make us look at our own lives and reflect. And for that reason this film is worth watching.