‘Nomadland’ Named Best Film by National Society of Film Critics

Acting awards go to Frances McDormand, Delroy Lindo, Maria Bakalova and Paul Raci

Frances McDormand in Nomadland

Chloe Zhao’s “Nomadland” has been named the best film of 2020 by the National Society of Film Critics, which conducted its annual voting in a virtual meeting on Saturday.

The film starring Frances McDormand as a woman who takes the road after falling on hard economic times won a narrow victory over Kelly Reichardt’s “First Cow,” scoring 52 points to 50 for the runner-up. Zhao also won the Best Director award in a wide margin over Steve McQueen (“Small Axe”) and Reichardt, while McDormand won the best-actress award and cinematographer Joshua James Richards won in his category as well.

The best-actor award went to Delroy Lindo for “Da 5 Bloods” in a narrow victory over Chadwick Boseman for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” McDormand’s runner-up was Viola Davis, also from “Ma Rainey.”

In the supporting categories, the NSFC went with more unexpected winners in Maria Bakalova for “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” and Paul Raci for “Sound of Metal.”

The screenplay award went to writer-director Eliza Hittman for “Never Rarely Sometimes Always.”

The documentary “Time” won the award for best nonfiction film, and another doc, the Romanian film “Collective,” was given the award as the year’s best foreign-language film.

This year, in a rule change prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, any film that opened in 2020 in theaters or on streaming platforms was eligible for awards.

The National Society of Film Critics consists of 60 critics from around the country, though a handful opted not to vote if they hadn’t seen enough films. The organization was established in 1966 and for much of its history has made more idiosyncratic choices for its top awards than Oscar voters have.

Last year’s choice of “Parasite” was only the eighth time in 54 years that the NSFC and Oscars agreed on the year’s best film — but four of those eight matches have come in the last 11 years, with “The Hurt Locker,” “Spotlight,” “Moonlight” and “Parasite.” Other recent winners have included “The Rider,” “Lady Bird,” “Inside Llewyn Davis,” “Amour” and Jean-Luc Godard’s “Goodbye to Language.”

The win for “Nomadland” gives Zhao two NSFC best-picture wins in the last three years, after “The Rider” in 2018. The second win ties her with Robert Altman, Clint Eastwood, Mike Leigh, David Lynch and Lars von Trier for the second-most wins ever. (Ingmar Bergman has the most, with three.)

Voting was conducted in a weighted ballot system in which members rank their top three choices. The balloting continues for as many rounds as necessary until one film receives the most points and is mentioned on a majority of ballots.

The awards, with point totals:

Best Picture: “Nomadland” (52 points)
Runners-up: “First Cow” (50); “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” (41)
Best Director: Chloe Zhao, “Nomadland” (58)
Runners-up: Steve McQueen, “Small Axe” (41); Kelly Reichardt, “First Cow” (30)
Best Actor: Delroy Lindo, “Da 5 Bloods” (52)
Runners-up: Chadwick Boseman, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (47); Riz Ahmed, “Sound of Metal” (32)
Best Actress: Frances McDormand, “Nomadland” (46)
Runners-up: Viola Davis, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (33); Sidney Flanigan, “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” (29)
Best Supporting Actor: Paul Raci, “Sound of Metal” (53)
Runners-up: Glynn Turman, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (36); Chadwick Boseman, “Da 5 Bloods” (35)
Best Supporting Actress: Maria Bakalova, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” (47)
Runners-up: Amanda Seyfried, “Mank” (40); Youn Yuh-jung, “Minari” (33)
Best Screenplay: Eliza Hittman, “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” (38)
Runners-up: Jon Raymond and Kelly Reichardt, “First Cow” (35); Charlie Kaufman, “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” (29)
Best Cinematography: Joshua James Richards, “Nomadland” (47)
Runners-up: Shabier Kirchner, “Lovers Rock” (41); Leonardo Simoes, “Vitalina Varela” (34)
Best Foreign-Language Film: “Collective” (38)
Runners-up: “Bacurau” (36), “Beanpole” (36), “Vitalina Varela” (32)
Best Nonfiction Film: “Time” (46)
Runners-up: “City Hall” (28); “Collective” (22)
Film Heritage Award: Women Make Movies
Film Heritage Award: Film Comment
Film Heritage Award: The Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, MA


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