Chloé Zhao made history within history by fulfilling the predictions that marked her as the winner of the Oscar for Best Direction in which For the first time in 93 years, he had two women sharing a business. And it was only the second to do so later, after Katryn Bigelow triumphed in the memorable 2010 ceremony. Before being recognized at the Oscars 2021, Zhao had already been hired by Disney to take command of its new superhero production. Eternals and tonight he has many reasons to win. For starters, for his movie, Nomadland, where he proposes a story of undoubted compatibility with the contemporary academic palate: he follows a woman who has lost everything – her formal job, her husband – and immerses herself in a nomadic life, of swallow jobs and fleeting but meaningful relationships, for the deep interior of America. During the tour, he meets nomadic men and women in real life, who therefore have little and nothing as characters.
But also Zhao has had a dream season, of absolute dominance in all the ceremonies in which she was nominated. And on top of that, her profile fits perfectly with the multicultural winds that blow in the Hollywood art community. The filmmaker was born in Beijing in 1982 and she was, like almost everyone at that time and in that place, the only daughter of a married couple. The strange thing is that years later, when her artistic inclinations were clear, they stimulated her morally and financially. Nothing less than a detail, which allowed him to study in London and then cross the world to land in Los Angeles first and New York later. There, while he was studying filmmaking, he was absent. “I grew up in cities in different countries and I always felt a sense of loneliness. As you grow up in the concrete jungle and are young, that loneliness seems even romantic, but as you get older it is increasingly difficult to bear, “he told the newspaper. The country from Spain.
He was only found when he traveled to an Indian reservation in South Dakota. “By coming face to face with nature and exposing myself to the weather in a landscape where you don’t see even a telephone wire, I finally felt connected to something bigger than myself. That’s when I started wanting to explore this part of the United States: the landscape was my entry point, ”he recalled. There he found inspiration for an artistic universe already defined in his first two films (available on the Mubi platform), Songs My Brother Taught Me (2015) and The Rider (2017), which have the Dakota reservation as the narrative epicenter. That place is part of the path of Fern, Frances McDormand’s character in Nomadland. It was precisely the actress who, to see if she was interested in directing the adaptation, brought her the book Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century, where journalist Jessica Bruder describes the hardships of those older adults who adopted a wandering life after losing all their assets due to the economic crisis unleashed in 2008.
The formula was unbeatable in terms of awards since he won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. So unbeatable that Zhao today rubs shoulders in the statistics with characters of the stature of Barbra Streisand: they are the only two women with a Golden Globe for Best Director, an achievement that the actress and singer achieved in 1983 for Yentl. And if that was not enough, Zhao made an unprecedented double in the DGA awarded by the Directors Guild and the Bafta. The first is one of the most faithful barometers of the academic palate, since this category of the Oscar is voted only by the members belonging to that branch, many of whom are also part of the Union. The double card explains why only four times in the last twenty years was there no match between the DGA and the Academy for Best Directing. With the triumphs among her colleagues and in British lands, the filmmaker became the second woman to receive both awards. The previous one, like her, also did it the same year, and then she took the Oscar. It was Kathryn Bigelow.