Chloé Zhao has won the Best Director award at the 2021 Oscars for her movie Nomadland. She beat Thomas Vinterberg (Another Round), David Fincher (Mank), Lee Isaac Chung (Minari), and Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman).
Zhao is the first woman of color to win the award, and only the second woman ever to take home the gong. This was the first time there was more than one woman nominated for Best Director in the same year, and, before this year, only five women had been put forward for the accolade in the Oscars' 93-year history.
"I've been thinking a lot lately about how I keep going when things get hard," Zhao said accepting the award. "I think it goes back to something I learned when I was a kid... 'People at birth are inherently good'... I have always found goodness in the people I've met everywhere in the world. So this is for everyone who has the faith and the courage to hold onto the goodness in themselves."
Nomadland follows Fern (Frances McDormand), a woman who leaves her hometown after her husband dies and she loses her job to live a nomadic life in a van – with all the hardships that come with that lifestyle. Alongside David Strathairn, the supporting cast includes real-life nomads who play fictionalized versions of themselves.
Zhao also wrote, produced, and edited the movie, and she also picked up the Best Director (and Best Motion Picture – Drama) award at this year's Golden Globes, the first Asian woman to do so. At this year's Oscars, Nomadland was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actress for McDormand's performance, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, and Best Editing. The movie won Best Picture and McDormand was victorious in the Best Actress category.
For more on the Oscars, check out our list of all the Oscars 2021 winners.