Viewed – 04 May 2021 Disney+
The movie that has had the most praise at this year’s Oscars, nabbing best picture, best director and best actress for Frances McDormand. This drama based on a book follows the character of Fern (McDormand) who after the closure of a mining pit and the downfall of the town where she lived, chooses to journey into the American wilderness and become a nomad. She meets with like-minded people and becomes part of a community of travellers, whilst staying as far away from society as she can.
Shot in a very fly-on-the-wall, semi-documentary style this offers up a snapshot of a lifestyle I’d imagine many don’t know about. I certainly felt swept up in the idea of getting away from it all, and with how crazy the world can get it certainly has an appeal. Director Chloe Zhao has delivered a highly authentic movie, filled with real-life nomads that added a lot of realism, and celebrates the wonder of the American landscape beautifully with some eye-catching cinematography. McDormand is good and you do get a strong sense of a woman who has given up on society and is trying to find her place in everything. I was only disappointed that her character doesn’t exactly grow or have much of an ark, seeming to end the movie just the same as she began.
That’s what really let’s this down. It’s very much just ‘is’ and lacks drama or anything that enables the story to develop. As an insight into a lifestyle and of the human experience, it’s interesting but as anything else it ultimately falls flat.
So what made this film a Best Picture contender/winner? Is it Hollywood politics again or lack of competition? I sometimes wonder lately what might have happened had Dune gotten a release last year and THAT won Best Picture. Or if Tenet had pinched it (Academy voters assuming it must have been another intellectual Nolan triumph because it flew right over their heads). Hindsight seems to indicate most Best Pictures are wildly off the mark.
It’s not bad really, even good for what it is, it just doesn’t go anywhere that interesting. McDormand us fine but not Oscar worthy. Overall I think it was a weak year.