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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.


Chloé Zhao


Jessica Bruder (based on the book by), Chloé Zhao (written for the screen by)
11 ( 15)
Nominated for 6 Oscars. Another 223 wins & 133 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Frances McDormand ... Fern
Gay DeForest Gay DeForest ... Gay
Patricia Grier Patricia Grier ... Patty
Linda May Linda May ... Linda
Angela Reyes Angela Reyes ... Angela
Carl R. Hughes Carl R. Hughes ... Carl
Douglas G. Soul Douglas G. Soul ... Doug
Ryan Aquino Ryan Aquino ... Ryan
Teresa Buchanan Teresa Buchanan ... Teresa
Karie Lynn McDermott Wilder Karie Lynn McDermott Wilder ... Karie
Brandy Wilber Brandy Wilber ... Brandy
Makenzie Etcheverry Makenzie Etcheverry ... Makenzie
Bob Wells Bob Wells ... Bob
Annette Webb Annette Webb ... Annette
Rachel Bannon Rachel Bannon ... Rachel

A Guide to the Films of Chloé Zhao

From The Rider to Nomadland, we explore down the cinematic trademarks of writer, producer, and director Chloé Zhao.

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Following the economic collapse of a company town in rural Nevada, Fern (Frances McDormand) packs her van and sets off on the road exploring a life outside of conventional society as a modern-day nomad. The third feature film from director Chloé Zhao, NOMADLAND features real nomads Linda May, Swankie and Bob Wells as Fern's mentors and comrades in her exploration through the vast landscape of the American West. Written by Searchlight Pictures

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century.



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some full nudity. | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Frances McDormand blended into the nomadic community so well that one of the local Targets offered her an application for a job. Frances' experience of living in a van took four to five months, covering seven states. She adopted a lifestyle of being constantly on the move to make the movie seem more authentic, rather than just acting the scenes. See more »


At the Thanksgiving celebration in Mendocino, David Straithairn's character likens the wineglasses clinking, very clearly, to 'the bells of ACROsanti.' Both his pronunciation and the subtitle spelling agree. He is referring to, however, the bells of ARCOsanti. See more »


Carol: I see that you have this ring. Are you married?
Fern: I am, but my husband died.
Carol: And so...
Fern: I'm not gonna take that off.
Carol: That ring is a circle and it never ends. And that means that your love never ends. And you may not be able to take it off, if you tried.
Fern: I don't think I can.
See more »


Written and Performed by Ólafur Arnalds
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User Reviews

22 January 2021 | by tadtedSee all my reviews

This won't be everyone's cup of tea but I thoroughly enjoyed it and didn't want it to end. Quite a dark film in parts but uplifting at the same time. Some of the scenery is awesome - makes you want to become a nomad for a little while.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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USA | Germany



Release Date:

19 February 2021 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Nomadland See more »

Filming Locations:

Arizona, USA See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$503,000, 21 February 2021

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

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