Chloé Zhao’s ‘Nomadland’ Starring Frances McDormand Lands At Fox Searchlight

Read on: Deadline.

Fox Searchlight has obtained the worldwide rights to Nomadland, the third feature from director Chloé Zhao, who made a splash with her most recent film, the South Dakota-set western drama, The Rider. Oscar-winner Frances McDormand stars in the film alo…

Chloé Zhao’s ‘Nomadland’ Starring Frances McDormand Acquired by Fox Searchlight

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Fox Searchlight announced on Tuesday that it’s acquired worldwide rights to Chloé Zhao’s film “Nomadland.”

The film, which is Zhao’s third feature film following “The Rider” and “Songs My Brother Taught Me,” stars Frances McDormand in her first role since winning the best actress Oscar for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”

“Nomadland” is a road movie following Fern (McDormand), a woman in her sixties, who after losing everything in the Great Recession embarks on a journey through the American West, living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad. A signature of Zhao’s, the film includes real people turned actors including Linda May and Charlene Swankie.

Also Read: Fox Searchlight Acquires Matthew Puccini’s ‘Lavender’ Short Film

“As I fell in love with the American west, it was impossible not to become fascinated with the roads that lead to the many adventures beyond the horizon,” Zhao said in a statement. “I’m very fortunate to be able to hit the road with a talented team and collaborate with a cast of professional and non-professional actors who are deeply giving and inspiring. I can’t wait to share their stories and what we’ve discovered along the way.”

The movie is based on the non-fiction book “Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century” by Jessica Bruder, which McDormand and Peter Spears (“Call Me By Your Name”) optioned soon after it was published in 2017.

A Highwayman Films, Hear/Say Productions and Cor Cordium Production, the film is produced by McDormand, Spears, Mollye Asher, Dan Janvey and Zhao.

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“We are thrilled to work with visionary filmmaker Chloé Zhao on NOMADLAND. Her unique voice, combined with the extraordinary talent of Frances McDormand, makes it an important and compelling story,” said co Fox Searchlight chairmen Nancy Utley and Stephen Gilula in joint statement.

The deal was brokered by Fox Searchlight’s Executive Vice President of Business Affairs Megan O’Brien with WME, UTA and Lichter Grossman on behalf of the talent and filmmakers.

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‘The Rider’: Chloé Zhao Explains How Brady Jandreau Shaped Her Quiet Masterpiece

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

This article about Chloé Zhao first appeared in the TheWrap magazine’s Oscar Nominations Preview issue.

“If an animal around here gets hurt like I did, they’ll get put down.” That key line from “The Rider” didn’t come from the mind of the film’s writer-director, Chloé Zhao. It came from her star, Brady Jandreau, whom she worked with to weave one of the most personal tales of the year — and a movie that was the surprise winner of the Gotham Award as the year’s best independent film, beating out contenders that included “The Favourite,” “If Beale Street Could Talk” and “First Reformed.”

After meeting Jandreau during the filming of her first movie, “Songs My Brother Taught Me,” Zhao knew she wanted to make her next project about him, but didn’t know what the storyline would be.

Then an unexpected tragedy provided the inspiration. A few months after Jandreau’s career as a rodeo star was cut short by a fall from his horse and severe head trauma, Zhao and a small crew of five set up in South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation to shoot a drama about a rodeo cowboy who must find a new identity after a similar accident.

Also Read: ‘The Favourite,’ ‘Roma,’ ‘Black Panther’ Nab Art Directors Guild Nominations

“I would say that about 65 percent of the story is Brady’s real life, but even the 35 percent that is fiction had a lot of input from Brady, too,” Zhao said. “As we were shooting, we were following the natural pattern of his life, training horses and other jobs around the reservation. And as we’d go over the script, Brady would change some of the lines to make them like how he would say them.”

There is a separation, though, between the real Brady and the Brady of “The Rider.” The character is a quiet, almost brooding figure, gazing out into the colorful Dakota dusk as he tries to figure out how to move forward after his body has betrayed him. Zhao said that the real Brady had his own period of introspection and reevaluation after his injury, but he’s far more lighthearted than his character, always with a quick smile and a good joke to get the crew laughing.

“He’s very religious,” she said. “For him, there’s a given purpose for everything. For a horse, it’s to run. For a cowboy, it’s to ride. To transition away from being the cowboy that he’s wanted to be all his life was a big process for him. And I still talk with him after we shot the movie. He’s a father now, and it’s been so inspirational watching him find himself again after that accident.”

To read more of the Oscars Nomination Preview issue, click here.

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‘The Rider’ Wins Best Picture from National Society of Film Critics Awards

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Chloé Zhao’s “The Rider” has been named the best film of 2018 by the National Society of Film Critics, which met in New York City on Saturday to choose its winners for the 53rd time. “Roma” and “Burning” were the two next runners-up.

Lead acting awards were given to Olivia Colman for “The Favourite” and Ethan Hawke for “First Reformed,” with supporting acting prizes for Regina King for “If Beale Street Could Talk” and Steven Yeun for “Burning.” Alfonso Cuarón won the prize for Best Director and for Best Cinematography for his work on “Roma.”

The National Society of Film Critics was established in 1966, with its co-founders including Pauline Kael, Joe Morgenstern and Richard Schickel. The group currently has 60 active members, 42 of whom participated in the Saturday voting in person or by proxy. Members who have not seen most or all of the contending films can disqualify themselves from voting.

For most of its history, the NSFC’s choices have been more idiosyncratic than the Academy’s, and more oriented toward foreign cinema. Recent winners have included Jean-Luc Godard’s “Goodbye to Language,” as well as “Inside Llewyn Davis,” “Amour,” “Melancholia,” “Waltz With Bashir” and “There Will Be Blood.” Greta Gerwig’s “Lady Bird” won last year.

Also Read: Sorry, ‘A Star Is Born’ and ‘Black Panther’! Netflix’s ‘Roma’ Is Dominating 2018 Critics’ Awards So Far

But while only five films in the group’s first 49 years won the NSFC’s top award and went on to win the Best Picture Oscar, the critics and the Academy have agreed in two of the last three years, with “Spotlight” in 2016 and “Moonlight” in 2017.

The 2018 National Society of Film Critics winners:

Best Picture: “The Rider”
Runners-up: “Roma;” “Burning”
Best Actor: Ethan Hawke, “First Reformed”
Runners-up: Willem Dafoe, “At Eternity’s Gate”; Ben Foster, “Leave No Trace”; John C. Reilly, “The Sisters Brothers” and “Stan & Ollie”
Best Actress: Olivia Colman, “The Favourite”
Runners-up: Regina Hall, “Support the Girls”; Melissa McCarthy, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
Best Supporting Actor: Steven Yeun, “Burning”
Runners-up: Richard E. Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”; Brian Tyree Henry, “Widows,” “If Beale Street Could Talk,” “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”
Best Supporting Actress: Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
Runners-up: Elizabeth Debicki, “Widows”; Emma Stone, “The Favourite”
Best Director: Alfonso Cuarón, “Roma”
Runners-up: Lee Chang-dong, “Burning”; Chloé Zhao, “The Rider”
Best Screenplay: “The Death of Stalin,” Armando Iannucci, David Schneider and Ian Martin
Runners-up: “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty; “The Favourite,” Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara
Best Cinematography: Alfonso Cuarón, “Roma”
Runners-up: James Laxton, “If Beale Street Could Talk”; Lukasz Zal, “Cold War”
Best Nonfiction Film: “Minding the Gap”
Runners-up: “Shirkers”; “Amazing Grace”
Best Foreign-Language Film: “Roma”
Runners-up: “Cold War”; “Burning”; “Shoplifters”
Best Production Design:
Best Experimental work:
Film Heritage Award: “To the team of producers, editors, restorers, technicians and cineastes who labored for decades to bring Orson Welles’ ‘The Other Side of the Wind’ to completion for a new generation of movie lovers.
Film Heritage Award: “To the Museum of Modern Art for restoring Ernst Lubitsch’s 1923 film “Rosita,” starring Mary Pickford.
Special Citation for a Film Awaiting U.S. Distribution: “A Family Tour,” Ying Liang, Taiwan/Hong Kong/Singapore/Malaysia

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In the 90-year history of the Oscars, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has failed to nominate even a single woman in the best director category 85 times. The Academy is not alone. The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. has excluded women from…

‘Eternals:’ Marvel Studios Sets Chloe Zhao to Direct

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Marvel Studios has tapped “The Rider” director Chloe Zhao to direct “The Eternals,” a movie based on the comic book series about an evolutionary offshoot of humanity, an individual with knowledge of the project told TheWrap.

Blacklist screenwriters Matthew and Ryan Firpo (“Ruin”) are writing the script. Marvel Studios Chief Kevin Feige is producing.

So what are the “Eternals?” Created by comic legend Jack Kirby in 1976, the “Eternals”  are a race of ancient human beings created a million years ago by the cosmic entities known as the Celestials.

Also Read: Marvel Boss Kevin Feige Confirms ‘Eternals’ Movie in Development (Exclusive)

According to ComicVine, the Celestials accelerated the evolution of a handful of subjects and gave them the genetic potential to mentally manipulate limited quantities of cosmic energy, as well as other superhuman traits.

The story will focus on the female Eternal known as Sersi, (no, not the character on “Game of Thrones”), several insiders have told TheWrap.

“We have started working on what are the films post-phase 3,” Feige previously told TheWrap, referencing the forthcoming fourth part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s slate of movies after the wind-down of franchises based on the original Avengers.

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But Feige still has a whole lot of work to do on the current MCU phase, telling TheWrap that most of the studio’s current efforts are going into finishing “Captain Marvel,” as well as editing an untitled Avengers film.

Zhao is best known for her well-reviewed Sundance breakout “The Rider.”

Zhao is repped by WME and Lichter Grossman Nichols Adler & Feldman.

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‘The Rider’ Director Chloé Zhao Treats Non-Actors Like Pros: ‘Once Upon a Time, Our Greatest Actors Were Discovered’ – Podcast

Read on: IndieWire.

Zhao said with her Bass Reeves biopic, she’ll direct a more traditional cast like she did with her first-timers: “You can work with an actor in a certain way, you can create an environment like Terrence Malick has always done.”

Amazon Studios Lands Biopic on Bass Reeves, First Black U.S. Deputy Marshal, From ‘The Rider’ Helmer Chloé Zhao

Read on: Deadline.

EXCLUSIVE: Amazon Studios will be the studio behind Chloé Zhao’s untitled Bass Reeves biopic, a historical Western about the first black U.S. Deputy Marshal.
Zhao is writing and will direct the pic, which will follow Reeves’ journey as a yo…

‘Borg vs McEnroe’ Flounders at Indie Box Office While ‘The Rider’ Shines

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

In a quieter weekend for the indie box office, NEON’s “Borg vs. McEnroe,” Janus Metz Pedersen’s film about the tennis rivalry between Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe had a disappointing start, making only $50,135 for a per screen average of just $1,045. The film starring Shia LaBeouf and Sverrir Gudnason as the famed duo was released on 46 screens and has an 82 percent RT score.

On the flip side, Sony Pictures Classics’ “The Rider” posted the top per screen average from its three-screen release. Directed by Chloe Zhao, the film made $45,268 for a PSA of $15,089.

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“The Rider” stars Brady Jandreau as a Lakota rodeo rider who hoped that his skills on a horse would lead him out of poverty on the reservation he lives on, but must come to a personal reckoning after serious head trauma forces him to end his rodeo career. The film has received critical acclaim with a 98 percent Rotten Tomatoes score.

Also disappointing was the indie animation film “Sgt. Stubby,” which tells the true story of the titular Boston Terrier who became a hero during World War I for finding wounded soldiers in No Man’s Land, becoming the first dog to be promoted to Sergeant in the U.S. Army. While it had a 90 percent RT score, it only made $1.1 million from 1,633.

Also Read: ‘The Rider’ Film Review: Lyrical Tale of Injured Rodeo Star Heralds a Major Talent

Finally, there’s Bleecker Street’s “Beirut,” a thriller starring Jon Hamm as a former U.S. diplomat who comes out of retirement to save a colleague from the group that killed his family in 1980s Beirut. Also starring Rosamund Pike and Dean Norris, the film made $1.6 million from 755 screens for a PSA of just under $2,200

Among holdovers, IFC’s “The Death of Stalin” added $460,000 from 325 screens in its sixth weekend to bring its total to $6.2 million. Amazon’s “You Were Never Really Here” expanded to 51 screens in its second weekend for $310,000 to bring its total to $497,000.

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‘The Rider’ Film Review: Lyrical Tale of Injured Rodeo Star Heralds a Major Talent

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Filmmaker Chloe Zhao vaults into a rarefied atmosphere of filmmaking mastery with her stunning second feature, “The Rider,” a neo-Western about rodeo riding, hobbled masculinity and reflective grace that feels unlike anything else out there.

Its compelling singularity no doubt has something to do with its milieu –Native American bronc and bull specialists on the rodeo circuit who hail from South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation — but it primarily derives from Zhao’s filmmaking choice to combine a deeply felt story and a risky-but-rewarding vérité approach. The result is at times heart-stoppingly effective, pulling us so close to some of the movie’s key characters that they begin to feel like family.

We meet Brady Blackburn (Brady Jandreau) by way of the formidable stapling in his shaved head, a physical scar that forecasts the psychological journey ahead. A gifted young Lakota horse trainer, Brady had been an up-and-coming saddle bronc star until a horrible rodeo accident put him briefly in a coma, set him up with a metal plate, and incurred a doctor-ordered end to his riding days.

Watch Video: ‘The Rider’: How Brady Jandreau’s Brush With Death Led Him to Hollywood (Exclusive)

At home he endures watching his dad (Tim Jandreau), with whom he often clashes, sell Brady’s beloved horse Gus to pay debts. Brady also gets loving support from his autistic sister Lilly (Lilly Jandreau) and his rodeo pals. But he’s consumed by uselessness. Brady wants nothing more than to get back to training and riding, because his sense of incompleteness outside his life with horses is starting to feel like the worse injury. It’s a stubbornness doomed to embolden him, but what is he otherwise?

If you noticed that the actors’ last names are the same, it’s because Zhao is essentially telling Brady Jandreau’s story, starring Brady himself. After making her debut feature (“Songs My Brothers Taught Me”) at Pine Ridge, where she had ingratiated herself with the various tribes, Zhao got to know the laconic, horse-whispering Lakota cowboy before his accident, and witnessed his struggles afterward.

When she started putting together a version of Jandreau’s story as a film, Zhao made the decision to have everyone in Brady’s world play themselves. That included fellow professional rider Lane Scott, a rising star confined to a wheelchair after his own terrible accident, and visited onscreen in rehab by Brady. Their touching scenes eschew schmaltz for the more heart-tugging sensation of a lived-in camaraderie readjusted by tragedy.

Also Read: Cannes: ‘The Rider,’ ‘A Ciambra’ Win Top Prizes in Directors’ Fortnight

Directors have used non-professionals since movies began, but what Zhao gets out of her 21-year-old real-life cowboy star — by turns stoically lost, humbled, loving, and defiant — is nothing short of miraculous. Jandreau’s is a true, camera-ready performance, filled with nuance, and it speaks to Zhao’s actor-whispering skills that it burns so brightly at the center of her film. Other movies have utilized non-actors to portray versions of themselves – one immediately thinks of Oscar winners Harold Russell and Haing S. Ngor – but they were intended to be elements in a larger, homogenized creation.

“The Rider” is fully Jandreau’s; it’s impossible to imagine it having the same impact without his committed, enveloping presence. He’s as powerful as any macho western protagonist stripped to the core — the gunfighter disarmed or the pioneer made homeless. That he’s Native American, pale-skinned but proud, only deepens the reconfiguring of this country’s myths that’s another undercurrent in “The Rider.”

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“The Rider” also may be one of the best movies ever made about people and horses as a transcendent relationship. The documentary-infused scenes of Jandreau training and connecting with horses — the wild and ornery, the broken and fearful — are mesmerizing in their fluidity and intimacy, dramatizing a kind of tough love born of tradition and respect. Jandreau’s adoration of these animals is not only pulsating: it allows the horses to be flesh-and-blood co-stars in Brady’s story, not just four-legged accessories.

It’s all gorgeously photographed, too, by Joshua James Richards (“God’s Own Country”), who understands fully the magnetic power of a silhouetted horizon shot, a haunting landscape, or a close-up in a truck. And more importantly, that they all need to be seamlessly strung-together verses in the same evocative frontier poem.

The densely authentic space between neo-realism and documentary where “The Rider” exists is one of the most beautiful and affecting realms I’ve had the pleasure of visiting recently as a moviegoer. Having seen it twice — the first time unaware of its hybrid approach, the second time fully cognizant that I was watching real people in a form of healing re-enactment — the spell, I realized, was the same: a lyrical sense that life is lived and re-lived, acted out but ever retraced, and that to reclaim ourselves after a fall is perhaps what being human is all about. We live in identity-convulsive times, and I can’t think of a movie more attuned to the question “Who am I?” than this one.

Spiritual and earthy, forged in curiosity yet fortified with empathy, “The Rider” is why we go to the cinema, and it affirms Chloe Zhao as one of the most gifted new movie artists of our time.

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