Why First Cow Should Be Nominated For Best Picture

First Cow

Starring: John Magaro, Orion Lee, Clayton Nemrow, Todd A. Robinson, Alia Shawkat, and Toby Jones.

Written by: Jonathan Raymond, Kelly Reichardt

Direction by: Kelly Reichardt

A24 Pictures

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Letterboxd Score


What was supposed to be a great year film has now fizzled into a mess of debate as to whether theatres are even an important element to cinema. Unfortunately First Cow was one of the first films to succumb to the restrictions of the pandemic and rightfully so *sigh* However that does not stop this film from being an absolute top tier choice for the next award season. This is why I think First Cow should be The Academy’s top nominee for Best Picture.

First of all, we’re only half way through 2020 and the fact that most films have now delayed their release dates to the fall, or even in 2021. This does not give us many films to stack up against First Cow, however it does not take any less away from the fact that it was an incredible film that is definitely worthy of a nomination.

First cow has a very accurate portrayal of the indigenous people that lived in the Oregon territory, at the time of westward expansion. There are many scenes throughout the film that show the indigenous peoples and the garb and even the language. In a recent interview with Vox, Reichardt explains,

“Then they helped us find someone who spoke the language. It’s a jargon, a mix of languages — the Chinook Wawa. Orion had to learn that, as did James [Jones], the Native American actor who takes them up the river. That was pretty tricky. And I had to edit that language, which is not really phonetic. Hopefully, we didn’t slaughter it too much.”

Interview with vox

It is really refreshing to see filmmakers take the time to research the accuracy of how to portray first nation characters, especially in a time where first nation characters are heavily stereotyped and mislabeled.

First Cow is the ultimate feel good buddy story. It is solely about camaraderie in its purest form. It is the story of two men, filled with compassion in a time where everyone was so ruthlessly for themselves, lift each other up and fight for better situations. Despite their certain transgressions you cannot help but to continue to celebrate their successes. Although it is not an incredibly elaborate film, the simplicity of the story is what wins. There is nothing more to complicate than the situation they find themselves in. The story is also told in it’s imagery.

So many people dream of the breathtaking landscapes of the pacific northwest and Cinematographer, Christopher Blauvelt (Emma., Mid 90s, Certain Women) brings his some of his best work to fruition by capturing the essence of the northwest.

Despite the hectic times we are facing, you can always rely on art to bring a certain optimism and First Cow does a masterful job at conquering anxiety. The film in a way almost feels a bit hypnotic, with the dreamy landscapes and simplicity of the story. All together, you should absolutely give this film a chance. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Available July 21st on all streaming platforms

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