Nyad: how to watch, reviews, awards, trailer, cast and everything we know about the movie

Annette Bening in Nyad
Annette Bening in Nyad (Image credit: Liz Parkinson/Netflix)

Diving into the slate of 2023 new movies is Nyad, a based-on-a-true-story sports movie about an athlete never giving up on a seemingly impossible dream. Helping to bring this story to life are two legendary actresses, Annette Bening and Jodie Foster.

There is also an impressive duo behind the camera, as the directing team of Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin make their first narrative feature movie after directing some of the most acclaimed documentaries of the last few years.

Here is everything you need to know about Nyad.

How to watch Nyad

After a brief run in movie theaters, Nyad has officially made its debut on Netflix.

That means if you want to watch the inspiring, based-on-a-true-story sports drama, you are going to need a Netflix subscription.

Nyad plot 

Based on Diana Nyad's memoir, Find a Way, Nyad tells the story of the former marathon swimmer who decides to attempt a dangerous swim never before completed at the age of 60.

Here is the official synopsis for Nyad:

"A remarkable true story of tenacity, friendship and the triumph of the human spirit, Nyad recounts a riveting chapter in the life of world-class athlete Diana Nyad. Three decades after giving up marathon swimming in exchange for a prominent career as a sports journalist, at the age of 60, Diana becomes obsessed with completing an epic swim that always eluded her: the 110-mile trek from Cuba to Florida, often referred to as the 'Mount Everest' of swims. Determined to become the first person to finish the swim without a shark cage, Diana goes on a thrilling, four-year journey with her best friend and coach Bonnie Stoll and a dedicated sailing team."

The script was written by Julia Cox.

Nyad cast

Playing Diana Nyad is Annette Bening, who has already received rave reviews for her performance, with a good bit of Oscar buzz building. Bening is already a four-time Oscar nominee for The Grifters, American Beauty, Being Julia and The Kids Are All Right, though she is also known for The American President, Captain Marvel, 20th Century Woman and Death on the Nile.

Jodie Foster stars opposite Bening as Nyad's best friend and coach, Bonnie Stoll. Foster is herself a two-time Oscar-winner for The Accused and The Silence of the Lambs, with some of her other well-known credits including Taxi Driver, Contact, Panic Room, Inside Man and The Mauritanian. Upcoming, she is going to be starring in True Detective season 4.

Rounding out the main trio of the Nyad cast is Rhys Ifans, who plays John Bartlett, another person who helps Nyad with her dream. Ifans is a BAFTA-winning actor viewers have seen in Notting Hill, Spider-Man: No Way Home and House of the Dragon.

Nyad trailer

Watch the Nyad trailer for a preview of the challenges that Diana Nyad faced as she attempted to do something no one else had previously accomplished. 

Check out this additional trailer released just ahead of the movie's premiere in theaters:

Nyad reviews

Nyad is an officially "Certified Fresh" movie, with its Rotten Tomatoes score, as of November 3, being a very solid "86%" positive.

Here is a sampling of some of the Nyad reviews:

Stephen Farber, Hollywood Reporter: "Mesmerizes in and out of the water."

Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times: "Vasarhelyi and Chin... clearly have a gift for mining extreme sports for suspense and excitement."

Mark Johnson, Awards Daily: "The true story of Nyad is an exemplary tale of determination, perseverance and the power of teamwork. Nyad expertly captures all of these elements and emerges as a true crowd-pleaser."

Nyad awards

Check out the major year-end awards and nominations that Nyad has earned:

Golden Globes

  • Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Motion Picture Drama — Annette Bening (nominee)
  • Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture — Jodie Foster (nominee)

Critics Choice Awards

  • Best Supporting Actress — Jodie Foster (nominee)

SAG Awards

  • Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role — Annette Bening (nominee)
  • Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role — Jodie Foster (nominee)

Nyad directors

As we've mentioned, Nyad marks the narrative feature debut for directors Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, but they are no strangers to telling incredible true stories, they've just previously done it in documentary form.

The duo won an Oscar for their documentary Free Solo, which similarly tracked Alex Honnold as he attempted to become the first person to climb El Capitan without a rope, and The Rescue, which recounted the incredible true story of the rescue attempt of the Thai soccer team from 2018.

Nyad poster

Nyad (Image credit: Courtesy of Netflix)
Michael Balderston

Michael Balderston is a DC-based entertainment and assistant managing editor for What to Watch, who has previously written about the TV and movies with TV Technology, Awards Circuit and regional publications. Spending most of his time watching new movies at the theater or classics on TCM, some of Michael's favorite movies include Casablanca, Moulin Rouge!, Silence of the Lambs, Children of Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Star Wars. On the TV side he enjoys Only Murders in the Building, Yellowstone, The Boys, Game of Thrones and is always up for a Seinfeld rerun. Follow on Letterboxd.