January 21, 2021

Chinese-born director Chloe Zhao wins Best Director at North Carolina Film Critics Association Awards

Chinese-born female director Chloe Zhao won Best Director award at 2020 North Carolina Film Critics Association (NCFCA) Awards for film “Nomadland” on Monday, continuing to sweep the awards circuit in the United States.

Zhao became the first female to win the NCFCA Award for Best Director. Her film from Disney’s Searchlight Pictures also took home three other top honors of the U.S. critics group’s annual awards, including Best Adapted Screenplay for Zhao, Best Actress for Frances McDormand, and Best Cinematography for Joshua James Richards.

Based on Jessica Bruder’s 2017 non-fiction book “Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century,” the film stars two-time Oscar winner McDormand as an out-of-work woman who packs her van and sets off from her small town to travel around the vast landscape of the American West, exploring a life outside of conventional society as a modern-day nomad.

The 38-year-old filmmaker is racking up audience and critics’ awards and accolades, gathering momentum to put her and “Nomadland” hot on the Oscar contender trail.

“Nomadland” nabbed the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2020.

The film has piled up awards and nominations from coast to coast in the United States in recent weeks, including Best Director awards from the Boston Online Film Critics Association, the Boston Society of Film Critics, the Florida Film Critics Circle, Indiana Film Journalists Association awards, IndieWire Critics Poll, the New York Film Critics Circle and the LA Film Critics Association.

A24’s drama film “Minari” is another big winner of the NCFCA awards, taking home four top honors. The film snagged Best Narrative Film award, best supporting actress for Youn Yuh-jung, Best Original Screenplay for Lee Isaac Chung, and the Ken Hanke Memorial Tarheel Award for actor Will Patton.

According to the NCFCA, it’s the fourth year that the critics group didn’t award “Best Director” to the person credited with helming the film that won “Best Narrative Film.” For the third year in a row, the NCFCA has voted a film not primarily in English as “Best Narrative Film”. South Korean black comedy thriller film “Parasite” won the award in 2019, and Mexican drama “Roma” won it in 2018.

Disney and Pixar’s “Soul” took home two awards, including Best Animated Film and Best Music.

Delroy Lindo won Best Actor award for his performance in Netflix’s war drama film “Da 5 Bloods.” Sacha Baron Cohen was named Best Supporting Actor for Netflix’s historical legal drama film “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”

Other major winners included Danish comedy drama “Another Round” for Best Foreign Language Film, Netflix’s “Dick Johnson is Dead” for Best Documentary, and Warner Bros.’ “Tenet” for Best Special Effects.

The NCFCA are comprised of film journalists who either live in North Carolina or write for outlets that serve readers in the state.

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