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Chicago critics choose ‘Nomadland’ as 2020’s best movie

Awards also go to its star, Frances McDormand, as well as Chadwick Boseman and ‘Borat’s’ Maria Bakalova.

Chosen the best picture of 2020 by the Chicago Film Critics Association, “Nomadland” stars Frances McDormand, the recipient of the best actress award.
Searchlight Pictures

“Nomadland,” a movie that has yet to open in Chicago, was named the best picture of 2020 Monday night by the Chicago Film Critics Association.

The movie also earned a best actress award for Frances McDormand, who stars as a newly homeless woman wandering the West in her van. And the director award went to “Nomadland’s” Chloé Zhao.

The film opened Dec. 4 in some cities but not in Chicago (where indoor theaters have been closed by state order since November) and is scheduled for a Feb. 19 national release. “Nomadland” did screen one time at a local drive-in during the Chicago International Film Festival, where it won the Audience Choice Award for best English-language feature.

With five awards, also including the prizes for adapted screenplay and cinematography, “Nomadland” dominated the critics’ competition. The best actor award went to the late Chadwick Boseman for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”

Taking the supporting actor awards were two performers little known until this year: Chicago native Paul Raci, who plays the owner of a rehab clinic in “Sound of Metal,” and Maria Bakalova, a Bulgarian actress cast as Borat’s daughter in “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.”

As various critics’ groups tally their members this month, no consensus is emerging on a single film held in the highest regard. On Friday, the New York Film Critics Circle elected Kelly Reichardt’s Western fable “First Cow” as the best film of 2020, while their Los Angeles counterparts chose Steve McQueen’s five-film Amazon project “Small Axe.”

Here are the other winners of Chicago Film Critics Association awards:

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” by Eliza Hittman

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE: “Wolfwalkers”

BEST DOCUMENTARY: “Dick Johnson is Dead”

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: “Another Round”

BEST ART DIRECTION: “Mank”

BEST COSTUME DESIGN: “Emma,” Alexandra Byrne

BEST EDITING: “I’m Thinking of Ending Things,” Robert Frazen

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: “Soul,” Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste

BEST USE OF VISUAL EFFECTS: “The Invisible Man”

MOST PROMISING PERFORMER: Sidney Flanigan, “Never Rarely Sometimes Always”

MILOS STEHLIK BREAKTHROUGH FILMMAKER AWARD: Emerald Fennell, “Promising Young Woman”