The most remarkable thing about this film is its Oscar win. Nomadland is a pretty typical indie, a character-driven film that hobbles along to the sounds of a lonely piano and some sullen strings, not really the kind of film that typically dominates the Oscar race. That's quite an accomplishment for Zhao, sadly it doesn't really make her film any better.
McDormand plays Fern, a woman who is hit pretty hard by the financial crisis and finds herself forced to live in her van. As a neo-nomad, she travels around the US and meets up with people who are in the same situation as she is. During that time, she has to come to terms with her new life.
I found McDormand's performance to be pretty one-note, the nomad existence isn't something I'm naturally drawn to and the presentation is extremely expected, mixing slightly pimped documentary-style footage with a meandering score and a minimum of narrative. Not the worst in its genre, but not very noteworthy either.