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Chloé Zhao’s Oscar contender “Nomadland” premiered to critical acclaim at the 2020 Venice Film Festival, and now it’s available for viewers to stream at home on Hulu. Beginning Friday, Feb. 19, the film will run on IMAX and regular screens in areas where movie theaters are open, and will be available to stream at the same time on Hulu.
There’s no additional purchase necessary; like 2020’s “Palm Springs,” “Nomadland” will premiere on the streaming service’s regular tier. Not a subscriber? You can join for just $5.99 per month or $59.99 per year at its most basic level, or upgrade to commercial-free (at $11.99 per month) or Hulu plus live TV (starring at $64.99 per month).
Thanks to corporate synergy, you can also get a bundle with Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN+ starting at $12.99 per month (or $18.99 per month for ad-free Hulu).
Frances McDormand stars in “Nomadland” as 60-something widow Fern, who gets laid off from her manufacturing job following the death of her husband and decides to sell most of her belongings, buy a van, and hit the road. The film follows her journey as she finds seasonal jobs and meets fellow nomads who help her learn how to survive her new lifestyle.
The film is inspired by Jessica Bruder’s non-fiction book “Nomadland: Surviving America in the 21st Century,” and also features real-life nomads as McDormand’s costars. Linda May, Swankie, Bob Wells, and Derek Endres all play versions of themselves in the film, which IndieWire’s Eric Kohn called a magical experience.
“‘Nomadland’ juggles a complex tone,” he wrote in his review. “It celebrates the vast scenery of a forgotten America, while acknowledging the wistful undercurrents of the people wandering through it. Ludovico Einaudi’s plaintive score drifts in and out as cinematographer Joshua James Richards follows Fern through expansive outdoor scenery as the emptiness takes on poetic ramifications. It could sink into the hackneyed concept of life as a journey more than destination, but Zhao’s understated screenplay (which turns on the passing observations of the real nomads Fern meets) resists pressure for heavy-handed revelations.”
The film, which won the Golden Lion at Venice and the the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, has enjoyed a complex hybrid release plan. After a one-week virtual cinema run for critic-group awards, the film expanded to a handful of IMAX screens and will hit other theaters concurrent with its streaming release on Hulu, wrote IndieWire’s Tom Brueggemann in an analysis of the film’s unique release.
In a further essay, Kohn reflected on the way “Nomadland” was uniquely poised to reflect the fractured experience of life in pandemic-struck 2020, and the way many people around the world were forced to look inside for fulfillment when the outside world became closed off.
“Intentionally or not, ‘Nomadland’ reflected the essence of 2020,” he wrote in an award season “Consider This” column at the close of the year, “and it’s no surprise that the achievement comes from a filmmaker whose body of work revolves around the quest for personal satisfaction on the margins of American life. ‘Nomadland’ doesn’t exactly make the case that everyone would be better off living in an RV. But it’s a vivid salute to the catharsis of moving ahead at all costs. That’s an inspiring idea in 2020, and an especially welcome one as we finally escape its clutches.”