After Venice and Toronto, ‘Nomadland’ Enters the Oscar Race in Pole Position

Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland has been awarded the highest prize of the Toronto International Film Festival, the People’s Choice Award.


After a very unusual edition of the festival, audiences decided to give the award to the Frances McDormand-starring film, which also won Venice’s Golden Lion last week. This marks the first time ever a film has won both trophies, which are two of the most important ones in the festival circuit. This positions Nomadland as the film to beat in the Oscar race, which is starting now. As I mentioned last week, it will be interesting to see how long the momentum can last this year, as the road to the Oscars is going to be two months longer than usual.


The last time a movie won the People’s Choice Award at TIFF and didn’t get a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars was in 2011, when Nadine Labaki’s Where Do We Go Now? didn’t even get a Best Foreign Film nomination at the Academy Awards. Besides that, the roster of winners from the last 10 years includes Jojo Rabbit, which won the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, Green Book, which won Best Picture, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, which won Best Picture, La La Land, which was one of the favorites to win Best Picture, The Imitation Game, which won the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, 12 Years a Slave, which won Best Picture, or The King’s Speech, which also won Best Picture. It is also the second year in a row that Searchlight wins TIFF’s big award.


The first runner-up this year was Regina King’s One Night in Miami, which tells a fictionalized story of Cassius Clay, Malcolm X, Jim Brown, and Sam Cooke as the group celebrates Clay’s surprise title win over Sonny Liston in a Miami hotel room in February 1964. The second runner-up was Tracey Deer’s Beans, one of the biggest surprises of the festival, which retells the events that happened in Quebec in 1990 through a coming-of-age story based on Deer’s own experiences.


Chloé Zhao accepted the award remotely, and in her speech, she encouraged audiences around the world to continue watching movies:


“We can’t do this without you. Cinema is about sharing… Please, please keep going because we cannot do this without you. We’re so grateful and we hope we’ll see you all down the road.”