McDormand, Frances: 2000 Best Year of Career or Just Another Peak

Frances McDormand belongs to a small cohort of gifted actresses who smoothly navigate between mainstream Hollywood and the indie world, switching back and forth between leading and character roles. Her screen career has seen a number of peaks, the first of which in 1996 when she appeared in four radically different films, winning a well-deserved Oscar for “Fargo.”

Distinguishing herself in two diverse roles, this year represents another high in Frances's work. In Almost Famous, as a strong-minded college professor and fiercely protective mother of an emerging rock 'n roll journalist, she gave an indelible performance. “Adolescence is a marketing tool,” she told her son, banning him from participating in the irresistible sex-music-drugs subculture. As Michael Douglas's pregnant lover in Wonder Boys, Frances plays a college chancellor who's married to the head of English department and Douglas's boss. She excelled again in a quiet, understated performance, showing another facet of her immense talent.

Size is irrelevant in Frances's vocabulary for she has chosen big and small parts that defy billing considerations and glamour, taking risks with each and every role. The secret to Frances's talent is that she can be utterly ordinary and truly zany at the same time. Scorning mannerisms, she plunges into the center of her roles with no fluff or extra baggage.

My presentation to Frances McDormand, winner of the 2000 Supporting Actress Award by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA)