Jordan Peele has explained the importance of the shoe in Nope. Before we go any further, be warned that the following contains major spoilers for the movie!
In the film, it's eventually revealed that Steven Yeun's Jupe is a survivor of a horrific chimp attack on the set of a sit-com he starred in as a child. While Gordy the chimp maimed Jupe's co-star Mary Jo and killed another, Jupe survived by hiding under a table – and while the rampage was ongoing, he focused on a shoe that was standing directly upright, with a single fleck of blood. Jupe then displays the shoe, still standing straight up, in a small museum dedicated to the sit-com.
"The shoe represents a moment where we check out of a trauma," Peele explained on the Happy Sad Confused (opens in new tab) podcast. "And Jupe, he zones in on this little shoe, that's Mary Jo's shoe, that has landed in a precarious, odd situation. And this is the moment he disassociates. So the shoe for me is, in essence, in one way, it's the impossible shot. That's the impossible moment."
The impossible shot is a recurring theme in the film – Keke Palmer's Emerald and Daniel Kaluuya's O.J. are trying to capture a picture of the alien, dubbed Jean Jacket, that's worthy of appearing on Oprah, while cinematographer Antlers (Michael Wincott) ends up sacrificing his life in an attempt to capture the perfect image of the creature.
It's also implied that Jupe surviving the chimp attack leaves him believing he's "chosen," which backfires massively when he himself falls victim to Jean Jacket.
If you're up to speed on Nope, you can check out our guide to all the upcoming major movie release dates to start planning 2023's theater trips.