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‘Nomadland’ Is An Astonishing Movie And A Worthy Oscar Front-Runner



Nomadland” is a song for the open road. Its protagonist, a pragmatic widow named Fern (Frances McDormand), has lost her husband and her ZIP code. She’s living out of a rusty cargo van, finding short-term jobs throughout the American West. Even with a movie star at the center, the film feels strikingly intimate — hardly the sort of material Hollywood is known for. When we first meet Fern, she’s driving across a highway, singing “What Child Is This?” to herself, blanketed by the infinite night sky. 

If “Nomadland” wins Best Picture at the Oscars in April, as it very well may, it would be an unorthodox choice. But this is an unorthodox awards season, so why not follow suit?

The Oscars, a buffet of overpriced politicking, almost never honor the year’s actual best film, making “Nomadland” an automatic outlier. For every “Parasite” or “Moonlight,” there’s a “Green Book” or “Dances With Wolves.” The voting body tends to favor scope, something this movie resists. Despite drawing inspiration from Jessica Bruder’s nonfiction book “Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century,” the film’s political heft is as gentle as its plot. Most of the cast are real itinerants, whether by choice or financial need, whom director Chloé Zhao met while doing research in and around Arizona. In an era when so many movies triple-underline their social consciousness, Zhao has crafted a drama too intelligent to submit to such showboating. 

Frances McDormand stars in “Nomadland.” Most of the cast are actual itinerants.

How, then, did “Nomadland’ (now streaming on Hulu) become the year’s front-runner? Well, first of all, we’d have to agree that it is the front-runner, and I’m not sure consensus is possible in a virtual Oscar race. “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” “One Night in Miami,” “Minari,” “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” “Mank,” “Soul” and “Promising Young Woman” are just some of the titles with competing momentum. But reduced theater attendance means box-office popularity isn’t a reliable meter, and the lack of red-carpet fanfare almost gives the impression that awards season isn’t happening at all.

To the degree that anything can muster enthusiasm in this enthusiasm-strained year, “Nomadland” has. Its premiere at the digital Toronto International Film Festival in September elicited rapturous reviews, and immediately a narrative around the movie formed: Zhao is the director of the moment. 

This is Zhao’s third feature. Her previous two, 2015’s “Songs My Brothers Taught Me” and 2017’s “The Rider,” also used first-time actors whose experiences shaped the scripts. She coaxed raw performances from all of them, particularly a South Dakota rodeo daredevil (Brady Jandreau) whose career-threatening injury lent “The Rider” a humanistic take on rural masculinity. In Hollywood terms, “Nomadland” represents a mindful step forward. She cast an empathetic A-lister and a well-known character actor (David Strathairn) opposite the movie’s novices, building a bridge toward her next assignment: Marvel’s “Eternals,” starring Angelina Jolie, Kumail Nanjiani, Salma Hayek and Richard Madden. 

Chloé Zhao on the set of "Nomadland."

Chloé Zhao on the set of “Nomadland.”

Leaping from indies to blockbusters is a rite of passage — the way an unsullied director discovers whether his or her idiosyncrasies are transferable to the industry’s big-budget machinery. It’s worked for Ryan Coogler (“Black Panther”), Taika Waititi (“Thor: Ragnarok”) and Paul Greengrass (“The Bourne Supremacy”). Even though a juggernaut like Disney tends to keep filmmakers on a stiff leash, there’s excitement around Zhao’s transition. “I shot exactly the way I wanted to shoot,” she told The Hollywood Reporter. “On location. A lot of magic hour. Three-hundred-sixty degrees on the same camera as I did on ‘Nomadland.’ Same rigs. It’s a bit surreal. I’m still waiting for the shoe to drop. It hasn’t. I think I got lucky in that Marvel wants to take risks and do something different.”

She’s the first Asian woman to spearhead one of the franchise’s installments, and “Nomadland” could make her the first Asian woman nominated for the Best Director Oscar. If she wins, she’ll become the second woman to do so in the awards’ 93-year history. (Kathryn Bigelow was the first.) Earlier this month, Zhao also signed on to write and direct what is being called an “original, futuristic, sci-fi Western” based on “Dracula.” That’s good PR for the broader “Nomadland” campaign. So is the splashy New York magazine cover story Zhao got last week. It all adds up to a true star-making occasion, especially considering most of her competitors (David Fincher, Spike Lee, Regina King, Aaron Sorkin) were already stars. 

McDormand in director Chloé Zhao's "Nomadland."

McDormand in director Chloé Zhao’s “Nomadland.”

When the roughly 9,900-member Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences anoints a movie Best Picture, it doubles as a self-portrait. The trophy offers a window into how Tinseltown’s hive mind wants to be seen. “Nomadland” is a pretty ideal embodiment of what cinema can achieve: authentic resilience and fictional enchantment rolled into one. As Fern assures a friend who questions her well-being, “I’m not homeless. I’m just houseless. Not the same thing, right?”

In a year of political chaos, voters may gravitate to overt topicality, à la “Judas and the Black Messiah” or “The Trial of the Chicago 7.” But with “Nomadland,” they’d be opting for something more subtle and, frankly, more powerful. If “Parasite” was a class melodrama disguised as an entertaining thriller, “Nomadland” is a portrait of the post-Great Recession economy filtered through ravishing sunsets. It impeaches the American fairy tale while savoring the country’s scenery.

There’s a scene that best illustrates this film’s resonance. It’s an exchange between McDormand and a 74-year-old nomad named Swankie, who portrays herself. Having just revealed that she has cancer, Swankie tells Fern she plans to leave their shared campsite to return to Alaska, where she has fond memories and would be comfortable dying. A speechless Fern listens to an anecdote about the time she watched baby swallows hatch. “I felt I’d done enough,” Swankie says. “My life was complete. If I died right then, that moment, it’d be perfectly fine.” Fern smiles, a mix of peace and anguish evident on McDormand’s face. The verisimilitude is astonishing; pop culture doesn’t tend to afford off-the-grid lifestyles so much nuance. This is as much a story about adventure as it is stasis. Even the finest Oscar contenders rarely contain such awe-inducing beauty.



Joe Rogan Admits He’s A ‘F**king Moron’ After Offering Selfish COVID-19 Vaccine Advice



Wildly popular podcast host Joe Rogan admitted he’s a “f**king moron” and “not a respected source of information, even for me” when he addressed his selfish comments about young, healthy people not needing to get vaccinated from COVID-19.

Rogan, whose audience is in the hundreds of millions, drew backlash — and a rebuke from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious diseases expert — when he said on an episode of his “Joe Rogan Experience” podcast released on Spotify last week that “if you’re a healthy person and you’re exercising all the time and you’re young and you’re eating well, I don’t think you need to worry about this.”

On Thursday, Rogan clarified in a video shared on YouTube that he was “not an anti-vaxx person.” “In fact, I said I believe they’re safe and I encourage many people to take them. My parents were vaccinated,” he explained. “I just said, ‘I don’t think that if you’re a young, healthy person that you need it.’ Their argument was, you need it for other people.”

“So you don’t transmit the other virus,” said his cohost.

“That makes more sense,” agreed Rogan. “But that’s a different argument. That’s a different conversation.”

Rogan, whose show was snapped up by Spotify in a $100 million deal last year, later attempted to explain away the comments by saying how he doesn’t plan what he says on air.

He’s often high or drinking alcohol during the shows, he said, before accusing “clickbaity” journalists of blowing his comments out of proportion.

“I’m not a doctor, I’m a fucking moron and I’m a cage fighting commentator who’s a dirty standup comedian who just told you I’m drunk most of the time and I do testosterone and I smoke a lot of weed but I’m not a respected source of information, even for me,” he said.

“If I say things, I’m always going ‘check on that Jamie, I don’t know if that’s true,’” Rogan added. “But I at least try to be honest about what I’m saying.”

A HuffPost Guide To Coronavirus


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Gabrielle Union Talks Baby Kaavia’s Free Spirit: ‘Shade Is Her Super Power’



Gabrielle Union recently talked about her daughter, Kaavia James, and her funny “shady” moments, characterizing those times as her 2-year-old’s “super power.”

“Shade is her super power because when Kaavia gives you a look, it’s either you’re not respecting her boundaries or something is happening that she doesn’t like,” the actor told People in an interview published Wednesday.

Union and her retired NBA star husband, Dwyane Wade, welcomed Kaavia in November 2018.

The couple has since poked fun at the toddler’s occasional adorably shady facial expressions — and hilarious side-eyes — like when a photo of Kaavia seated on a couch looking pensive and slightly unbothered became a meme last year.

Or when the little one looked less than pleased with the outcome of her face paint design at her second birthday party:

Inspired by Kaavia’s witty personality, Wade and Union created an Instagram account for the little girl, often using the hashtag ”#Shadybaby” in the posts’ captions. The couple also collaborated to write a Kaavia-influenced children’s book titled “Shady Baby” due for release next month.

Union explained in Wednesday’s People interview that she celebrates Kaavia’s freedom to be her authentic self amid a long history of harmful ways Black women and girls have been treated in society.

“The main takeaway is that she’s free to be this amazing, dynamic, shady at times, loving at times Black little girl when the world has not been so kind to Black girls and women,” she added.

In addition to Kaavia, Wade is father to Zaya, Zaire and Xavier. Union and Wade also parent his nephew Dahveon Morris.

Wade told People that he and Union make a point to encourage their children to be their true selves.

“If we allow our kids to be their true selves we don’t have to worry about them conforming with anything or anyone,” he said. “Why wouldn’t we push our kids to be their authentic selves?”

Last month, Kaavia took a side-eyeing break to enjoy a sweet play date with 2-year-old Cairo, the daughter of actors Tia Mowry and Cory Hardrict.

After some hugs, Kaavia generously took Cairo for a spin in her toddler-sized electric car:


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Anne Heche Says Ellen DeGeneres Didn’t Want Her To ‘Dress Sexy’



Anne Heche took an unexpected swipe at former girlfriend Ellen DeGeneres this week during an online fashion retrospective.

In a short TikTok video Tuesday, Heche looked back at some of her favorite looks from years past, including the 1998 VH1 Fashion Awards and a memorable “Dancing with the Stars” routine from last fall.

The actor’s enthusiasm for nostalgia, however, notably dipped when she came upon a photo of her and DeGeneres from the 1998 Golden Globe Awards. The pair appear to have color-coordinated their outfits, with DeGeneres in a navy suit and Heche in a blue velvet gown and matching coat.

“Why do I look like a hippie? It’s because Ellen didn’t want me to dress sexy,” Heche, who has starred in films like “Donnie Brasco” and “Six Days, Seven Nights,” declared. After giving the look a zero out of 10 and a thumbs down, she added, “Bye, no!”

Heche and DeGeneres dated from 1997 to 2000. During their time together, the women were among Hollywood’s most-buzzed-about same-sex couples.

The former couple has remained mostly tight-lipped about the specifics of their relationship in the media. Heche, however, touched on her ex in a number of interviews timed to her appearance on “Dancing with the Stars” last year.

Chatting with Mr. Warburton magazine last year, she recalled angering Hollywood executives when she brought DeGeneres as her date to the premiere of 1997’s “Volcano.”

“I was told by Fox Studio executives that if I brought Ellen to the premiere, my contract would be terminated,” she told the publication. “I brought Ellen despite those threats, and we were escorted out of the theater before the lights came on by security and not allowed to attend the premiere party because they did not want any photos of us together.”

Ellen DeGeneres (left) and Anne Heche at the 1998 Golden Globe Awards.

“I was a part of a revolution that created social change,” she added, “and I could not have done that without falling in love with her.”

In an interview with Entertainment Tonight last October, Heche noted that she hadn’t spoken to DeGeneres “in years,” but would be open to a reunion under the right circumstances.

“With relationships, I think many of us have [been there], you come to a fork in the road, ‘What do you want and what do I want?’” she said. “Those goals, that intent in life, is determined by the individual. Her intent and my intent were different and that’s why we separated.”


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Elliot Page Emotionally Shares What’s Given Him The Most Joy Since Coming Out As Trans



Elliot Page is sharing the moment that has brought him the most joy since he announced he was a transgender man in December 2020.

In a peek at an interview with Oprah Winfrey slated for release on her Apple TV+ series “The Oprah Conversation” on Friday, the 34-year-old said that he’s found “the most joy.”

“Getting out of the shower and the towel’s around your waist and you’re looking at yourself in the mirror and you’re just like, ‘There I am.’ And I’m not having the moment where I’m panicked,” he said, before breaking down in tears. “It’s being able to touch my chest and feel comfortable in my body for the — probably the first time.”

The actor added his tears were “tears of joy.”

Earlier this year, Page talked to Time magazine about his decision to get top surgery and described the experience as something that allowed for him to recognize himself. Page recalled puberty as “total hell” and told the publication that the surgery “has completely transformed my life.”

He also told the publication that he spent much of his energy being uncomfortable with his body and the surgery has helped bring that energy back.

Page notably came out to fans last year with a heartfelt Instagram post, sharing that he would be using the pronouns “he” and “they” and said: “I feel lucky to be writing this. To be here. To have arrived at this place in my life.”

He went on to say: “I love that I am trans,” Page wrote. “And I love that I am queer. And the more I hold myself close and fully embrace who I am, the more my heart grows and the more I thrive.”  


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‘Bachelor’ Matt James Is Seeing Final Rose Recipient With Racist Past



It isn’t over.

Matt James, who became the first Black lead of the dating reality series “The Bachelor,” told People on Wednesday that he’s been seeing Rachael Kirkconnell, the woman he chose but then rejected after her past racially insensitive social media posts were unearthed.

“I’ve seen Rachael a handful of times,” James said. “I’m not pursuing any relationships right now outside of that. I said I was going to focus on my relationship with her and that means focusing on it.”

Kirkconnell received James’ final rose on ABC’s reality series. After the season was in the can, pictures emerged on social media showing Georgia native Kirkconnell attending a slavery-era plantation-themed party and liking photos containing Confederate flags.

Kirkconnell apologized and said she “will continue to learn how to be anti-racist.” James said in the “After the Final Rose” episode last month that they broke up and that Kirkconnell had work to do on her own.

As for her progress, James told People “that’s something you could talk to her about.”

A report last week said the two were not speaking to each other, but that does not appear to be the case.

Stay tuned.


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Halle Berry Reacts To A Joke About Her Blunt Bob Debut At The Oscars



Halle Berry joined the fun on Twitter after she debuted her new bob hairstyle at the 2021 Oscars on Sunday night.

The Oscar winner responded to a Twitter user who linked her new ’do to a popular lighthearted video from rapper Saucy Santana, who channels Nicki Minaj from the B.o.B. song “Out of My Mind” while rocking a bob.

“Halle Berry tonight,” the user tweeted on Sunday alongside the video. Berry retweeted the post on Tuesday and playfully responded with two emojis, including a laughing-face one:

Berry stunned on the Oscars red carpet in a pink-toned Dolce & Gabbana gown that featured a prominent bow. She showed off her new bob with bangs after she teased the hairstyle on Twitter earlier in the evening with a photo that only showed her hair chopped off.

Her hairstyle sparked a lot chatter on Twitter, with people sharing memes and all sorts of opinions of the ’do.

The legendary actor and style icon, who made history becoming the first (and still only) Black woman to win an Oscar for Best Actress in 2002, apparently wasn’t phased by the blunt-bob-detractors.

Berry arrived at the ceremony with her Grammy-winning musician boyfriend Van Hunt.

Hunt posted photos on Instagram Monday of him and Berry getting ready to attend the ceremony. His caption said it was the couple’s first date night. The two publicly confirmed their relationship on Instagram in September last year.


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Kate Middleton, Prince William Mark 10th Anniversary With New Portraits



Kate Middleton and Prince William are celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary with brand-new photos.

Kensington Palace released two portraits on behalf of the couple on Wednesday, one day before their anniversary. The new pictures were snapped earlier this week at the palace by photographer Chris Floyd.

The two appear to have recreated the official photo William and Kate released for their engagement, which was taken by Mario Testino:

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who have been together nearly 20 years, officially tied the knot at Westminster Abbey on April 29, 2011. Millions lined the wedding procession route, while an estimated 2 billion tuned in from around the world.

Celebrities including Elton John, Guy Ritchie and David and Victoria Beckham made up some of the 1,900 guests invited to the ceremony. Ellie Goulding performed at the couple’s evening reception, an honor she called quite “scary.”

“I did their first dance and like, talk about scary,” the singer told Vanity Fair in 2016. “I was so nervous, my hands were shaking.”

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge smile following their marriage at Westminster Abbey on April 29, 2011, in London.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge smile following their marriage at Westminster Abbey on April 29, 2011, in London.

Ten years since their wedding day, the duke and duchess now have three children: Prince George, 7; Princess Charlotte, 5; and Prince Louis, 3.

William and Kate celebrated Louis’ birthday last week by releasing a brand-new photo of their little one taken before his first day at nursery school.

Louis’ birthday is just two days after his great-grandmother Queen Elizabeth’s big day.

The queen turned 95 on April 21 and released a statement thanking people for the tributes to her late husband, Prince Philip.

“My family and I would like to thank you for all the support and kindness shown to us in recent days,” she said. “We have been deeply touched, and continue to be reminded that Philip had such an extraordinary impact on countless people throughout his life.”


Kate Middleton’s Most Memorable Looks Of 2019


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