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'Nomadland' is second Best Picture Oscar winner to be filmed in Nebraska

'Nomadland' is second Best Picture Oscar winner to be filmed in Nebraska

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Chloé Zhao’s “Nomadland,” a wistful portrait of itinerant lives on open roads across the American West, won best picture Sunday at the 93rd Academy Awards, where the China-born Zhao became the first woman of color to win best director and a historically diverse group of winners took home awards.

When “Nomadland” won the Academy Award for Best Picture on Sunday, Nebraska landed its second Best Picture Oscar.

Of course, the state's first Best Picture award was 1983’s “Terms of Endearment,” which was filmed primarily in Lincoln. It won five Oscars, including Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay.

“Nomadland" was nominated in six categories, winning three, with Frances McDormand, who produced the film, taking the Best Actress Oscar, and Chloé Zhao becoming only the second woman and first woman of color to be named Best Director.

Zhao has a career-long relationship with Nebraska that began in 2016 when she appeared at the Ross Media Arts Center for a screening of her first film, “Songs My Brother Taught Me,” a family story that was set in and filmed on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

Zhao returned to Pine Ridge for 2018’s story of a Native rodeo cowboy, “The Rider.” A few scenes in that picture were filmed outside Rushville and at Omaha’s QLI Rehabilitation Center.

For “Nomadland,” Zhao brought her traveling cast and crew to Scottsbluff, where they filmed for several days, shooting in front of the Midwest Theater, at a gas station and restaurant and, primarily, at the Western Sugar Cooperative sugar beet plant.

It's there that Fern, the film’s central character played by McDormand, takes a temporary job, processing beets.

The film brought McDormand back to the Scottsbluff area, where her husband, Joel Coen, and his brother Ethan filmed a segment of their 2018 anthology film, “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.”

“These stories we’re seeing that are coming to Nebraska, at that end of the state, they’re written into the screenplays,” said State Film Officer Laurie Richards. “We’re blessed in that regard. Those pictures are bringing a view of what Nebraska has to offer, especially in the west, which hasn’t been seen.”

“Nomadland” opened at the Ross on its national release day in February. But Zhao didn’t return to Lincoln to speak during the film’s month-long run.

“I didn’t even bother to ask her” said Ross Director Danny Lee Ladely. “I was in touch with her, and she’s working (another movie)."

Her new project is “Eternals,” a Marvel superhero picture starring Angelina Jolie and Salma Hayek that is set for release Nov. 5.

“Nomadland” is one of several Oscar-winning movies that have played the Ross since it reopened in August. The other films, and their awards, are:

* “The Father,” Anthony Hopkins, Actor and Adapted Screenplay.

* “Minari,” Yuh-Jung Youn, Supporting Actress.

* “Another Round,” Best International Feature.

* “Two Distant Strangers,” Live Action Short.

* “If Anything Happens to You,” Animated Short.

* “Collette,” Documentary Short.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7244 or kwolgamott@journalstar.com. On Twitter @KentWolgamott  

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