I would agree that critics and audiences have been right to praise Frances McDormand for her work in Nomadland, which recently earned her a Golden Globe nomination. However, the performances in director Chloé Zhao’s acclaimed drama that I am even more fascinated by come from her co-stars. Not only is much of the cast made up of people who are not professional actors, but the characters they play are, essentially, themselves.
Believe it or not, this is a slightly more common practice in cinema (especially recently, as it turns out) than it may sound. To be clear, I am not counting the occasional cameo by a famous person as a fictionalized version of themselves, which is typically done for laughs. I am talking about an ordinary, average citizen who has never acted before, but is cast in a movie role with the same name, occupation, and other general characteristics of their being.