Director Chloé Zhao and several real-life nomads featured in the film also accepted the honor at the 2021 Academy Awards
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The 2021 Academy Awards have officially chosen the best movie of the year!

Nomadland won in a stacked category featuring a total of eight critically acclaimed movies that all came out during a tough year for the film industry.

"Please watch our movie on the largest screen possible," said star Frances McDormand while accepting the honor. "And one day very, very soon, take everyone you know into a theater, shoulder to shoulder in that dark space and watch every film that's represented here tonight. We give this one to our Wolf."

McDormand, 63, then gave a realistic wolf howl onstage as the audience applauded. Her wolf moment was a tribute to Michael Wolf Snyder, a production sound mixer on the film, who died at 35 earlier this year.

Frances McDormand Howls Like Wolf While Accepting Best pic during Oscars
Frances McDormand
| Credit: ABC

Later, McDormand went on to win Best Actress for her performance in the film. Several of the real-life nomads who appeared in the movie also came onstage for the win.

The other movies nominated for Best Picture were Promising Young Woman, The Trial of the Chicago 7, Minari, Sound of Metal, The Father, Judas and the Black Messiah, and Mank. Rita Moreno presented the category.

Nomadland was the clear favorite heading into the Oscars, with director Chloé Zhao becoming this award season's darling thanks to her beautiful and captivating film. The movie picked up a total of five nominations for the night, including Zhao's Best Director nod, which she won.

Michael Wolf Snyder
Michael Wolf Snyder
| Credit: Facebook
NOMADLAND Frances McDormand, Peter Spears, Mollye Asher, Dan Janvey and Chloé Zhao, Producers Academy Awards
Frances McDormand
| Credit: ABC

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The movie follows McDormand's Fern, who chooses to live a nomadic lifestyle while traveling through the American West after losing her husband and her life in a mining town that dissolves after the 2008 recession. 

"In collaborating with Chloe about the character of Fern we talked a lot about how we were going to bring things from my life, Fran's life into Fern's life," McDormand said in a PEOPLE exclusive behind-the-scenes look of the film earlier this year.

Zhao, who is Chinese, has been a rising star since her first two films — Songs My Brother Taught Me and The Rider — were both critically-acclaimed, receiving Independent Spirit Nominations, the latter for best film and best director. Next up, she dives into the blockbuster arena directing Marvel's highly-anticipated tentpole The Eternals, starring Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek and Kumail Nanjiani, out in November.

Nomadland is now playing in select theaters and streaming on Hulu.