2021 TIME100 Next
Pat Martin
February 17, 2021 6:55 AM EST

When navigating the many unknowns of low-budget, improvisational guerrilla filmmaking with a director, one hopes for a steady hand holding the compass. And that’s what you get with Chloé Zhao. A steady hand and a well-marked road map. With our film, Nomadland, and her first two, Songs My Brothers Taught Me and The Rider, she gained the trust of people offering their intimate life stories. She has an uncanny skill for walking the knife’s edge between sentiment and sentimentality—and that enriches her storytelling in very authentic and original ways. It is for all of these reasons that Chloé has the high regard and respect of her peers. At the end of the day, what more could one ask for than that? She is also one of the only people I know who can wear a fleece jacket with puppy faces on it that she bought at an RV swap meet, and make it work like it was a Valentino.

McDormand is an Oscar-winning actor and a producer

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