Oscar Speeches: McDormand, Frances (Fargo)

In 1996, the brilliant actress Frances McDormand, won the Best Actress Oscar for Fargo, directed by her husband Joel Coen and co-written by Joel and brother Ethan.

The role was specifically written for her, a Midwestern police investigator named Marge Gunderson. a matter of fact, down to earth local sheriff, plain-speaking, with a deadpan attitude, who is happily married and very very pregnant.

Several critics have commented on the lack of cynicism and eroticism in her character, whose inner emotional life exists but is not immediately evident. On the outside, she is pragmatic, coloring her speech with regional colloquialisms, like “you’re darn tooting,” or “for Pete’s sake.”

“It is impossible to maintain  one’s composure in this situation? What am I doing here?” she said in her emotional speech, “considering the extraordinary group of women with whom I was nominated.”

“We five women were fortunate to have the choice–not just the opportunity but the choice–to play such rich complex female characters, and I congratulate producers like Working Title and Polygram for allowing directors to make autonomous casting decisions based on qualifications and not just market value…

“And I encourage writers and directors to keep these really interesting female roles coming, and while you’re at it, you can throw in a few for the men as well…”

McDormand then thanked her brother-in-law, Ethan, “who helped make an actor of me,” her husband, Joel, for “making a woman out of me,” and her son, our moon and son Mr. Pedro McDormand Coen, “who made areal mother of me.”