Chloe Zhao wore sneakers and brought her real-life 'Nomadland' stars to the Oscars

She also flouted Oscar tradition, sporting her signature braids, sneakers and a cross-body bag
April 25, 2021 8:06 p.m. EST
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It may be too early to say – and we certainly don't wanna jinx it – but there's no denying Chloé Zhao, the writer, director and editor of Nomadland, is the frontrunner at tonight's Oscars (stream the full show now on CTV).

And she's already made a splash, hitting up the red carpet in a stunning, light Hermès dress, but otherwise keeping it simple (and ignoring the evening's dress code, love it) by sporting sneakers, a cross-body bag, her signature braids and going without makeup. 

She also had some very notable guests, bringing along not only her Oscar-nominated partner and cinematographer Joshua James Richards, but also Linda May and Swankie, both of whom had never acted before but featured in Nomadland, which is based on Jessica Bruder’s 2017 non-fiction book of the same name and tells the story of older people choosing to live transient lifestyles across the U.S. after the Great Recession. May and Swankie were two of the people Bruder interviewed in her research, and whom Zhao invited to appear in the film as themselves.

Proving she's 100 per cent that relatable, she told Lil Rel Howery on the red carpet that the first thing she thought when Frances McDormand asked her to direct Nomadland was, "Do you have any snacks?" because she was "really hungry." Now that's icon behaviour.

In a recent interview with Variety, May talked about her joy over heading to the Oscars, saying, “I can’t believe it! And Josh — I get to ride to the Oscars with Josh. I love Josh, and I flirted with him like crazy the whole time we made the movie. Chloé said I could have him. And so I’m really happy to get to ride with Josh!”

She added, “[Zhao] told a wonderful story about the nomads."

For the record, all of the non-actors were paid to be in the movie and, in fact, May was able to purchase a new home. She said, "That changed my life. Before, I wouldn’t have had anything. I would have had a little 13-foot trailer, and I don’t know how you can squeeze a family of six in there. Now, I have five acres! I have plenty of room."

In other words, Nomadland – which is nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actress for star Frances McDormand – is already a hell of a success story.

Watch the full 93rd Academy Awards on and the CTV app. 

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