Chloé Zhao Is the First Asian Woman, and Second Woman Ever, to Win the Golden Globe for Best Director

Nomadland director Chloé Zhao just made all kinds of history at the 2021 Golden Globes with her intimate film about a hidden slice of Americana, which was also named Best Motion Picture, Drama.

By Natalie Finn Mar 01, 2021 3:52 AMTags

For the first time, women outnumbered men in the Best Director category at the Golden Globes, and in 77 years the Hollywood Foreign Press had only bestowed the prize on one woman.

Barbra Streisand finally has company.

Chloé Zhao was named top director at the 2021 Golden Globes on Sunday night for Nomadland, becoming the first Asian woman to take the prize and the first woman in 37 years since Streisand won for Yentl. About a half hour later, the film was named Best Motion Picture, Drama.

"Thank you, my fellow nominees, for making beautiful, beautiful movies," the 38-year-old filmmaker said, raising a mug in celebration, perhaps from the home in Ojai, Calif., she shares with her partner and creative collaborator Joshua James Richards, a shoo-in Oscar nominee for cinematography for his work on Zhao's touching film about a hidden slice of America, those who feel they don't quite fit in any one place anymore and have found a new way of living on the open road.

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See the Winners of the 2021 Golden Globes

"This award belongs to the whole Nomadland team, the entire cast and crew... you know who you are," Zhao, who hails from China, said. "I want to thank my partner, Josh, and my family for keeping me sane all these years, and I especially want to thank the nomads who shared their story with us."

Quoting Bob Wells, one of the myriad non-actors who populated her film, she read, "Compassion is a breakdown of all the barriers between us, a heart-to-heart bonding. Your pain is my pain, it's  mingled and shared between us.' Now this is why I fell in love with making movies and telling stories, 'cause it gave us a chance to laugh and cry together. And it gives us a chance to learn from each other and to have more compassion for each other. So thank you, everyone, who made it possible for me to do what I love."

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Nomadland was also nominated for Best Screenplay and Best Actress for Frances McDormand.

For directing, Zhao topped Regina King, Emerald Fennell, David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin.

And while Nomadland, which is currently streaming on Hulu, is a decidedly intimate character study, albeit one that takes place on a sweeping landscape, Zhao is proving that she can go big and bigger. Her next film, which she alternated shooting with Nomadland, is the comic book epic The Eternals, starring Angelina Jolie and Richard Madden.

Relive all the winners and biggest show moments from the 2021 Golden Globes here!