Chloe Zhao named best director of 2020 by LA Film Critics Association

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Chinese-born director Chloe Zhao or Zhao Ting has been named the best director of 2020 for "Nomadland" by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), the American film critic organization announced on Sunday.

"Nomadland" also received recognition as a runner-up for best picture and best cinematography by the organization which is comprised of Los Angeles-based, professional film critics working in the Los Angeles print and electronic media.

"Nomadland" is the third feature film from Zhao, a Beijing native who went to the United States when she was 15. Based on Jessica Bruder's 2017 non-fiction book "Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century," the film stars two-time Oscar winner Frances McDormand as an out-of-work woman who packs her van and sets off from her small town to travel around the vast landscape of the American West, exploring a life outside of conventional society as a modern-day nomad.

"Nomadland" has won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and the People's Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this year, making history to be the first film that has won both top honors. Zhao was also named the best director of the year by another major American film critic organization, the New York Film Critics Circle, on Friday.

Both Zhao and her film are now widely considered as front-runners in this Hollywood awards season.

"Nomadland" by Disney's Searchlight Pictures is set to open on Feb. 19, 2021 in North America.

What's more, the LAFCA critics voted to award best picture to "Small Axe," an Amazon anthology film series, created and directed by Steve McQueen. The film also won best cinematography of the year.

The LAFCA best-film winner has won the Oscar for best picture 11 times in the 46 years the organization has been giving out awards, including three times in the last five years, The Wrap, a news site covering the entertainment and media businesses, reported.

Best actor went to Chadwick Boseman this year for his performance in drama film "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom." Carey Mulligan took home the best actress award for the black comedy thriller film "Promising Young Woman."

Best supporting actor was given to Glynn Turman for "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" while best supporting actress was awarded to South Korean actress Youn Yuh-jung for the drama film "Minari."

The critics gave the best animation award to Apple TV+'s "Wolfwalkers." "Beanpole" was the winner of best foreign-language film.

LAFCA President Claudia Puig said in a statement that the organization is "honored to award the artistry of a wonderfully diverse and massively talented group of winning filmmakers."

"Particularly notable in a year when the film industry took a huge blow, our winners reflect extraordinary achievement," Puig added. 

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