Sunday, September 6, 2009

Filmography: Frances McDormand

In this first installment of what will hopefully be a regular feature here at Nitflicky, I'll be examining a selected filmography of the wonderful Frances McDormand who, in my opinion, is one of the best actresses around today.

McDormand graduated from the Yale University School of Drama, where she was roommates with the equally incredible Holly Hunter. Her first work was on stage, but she quickly landed her first film role in Blood Simple. Hunter, who shared a house with the Coen brothers, recommended her for the lead part. McDormand got the role and another, as Joel Coen's wife.

It was the start of a brilliant career full of inspired choices. McDormand is a four-time Academy Award nominee and a marvelous character actress who inhabits each role with assuredness and authority.

1984 Blood Simple (Abby)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ McDormand's film debut was also the directorial debut of the Coen brothers. It's considered one of the most successful debuts in film, and was enthusiastically praised for its visual style and cleverness. Roger Ebery gave the film four stars. Quite the entrance.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 1985 Crimewave (Nun)
1987 Raising Arizona (Dot)
1988 Mississippi Burning (Mrs. Pell)
In her third collaboration with the Coen brothers, McDormand earned her first Academy Award nomination for her role as a racist deputy's wife in 1964.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 1989 Chattahoochee (Mae Foley)
1990 Darkman (Julie Hastings), Hidden Agenda (Ingrid Jessner)
1991 The Butcher's Wife (Grace)
1992 Passed Away (Nora Scanlan)
1993 Short Cuts (Betty Weathers)
1994 Bleeding Hearts (Woman on TV)
1995 Palookaville (June), Beyond Rangoon (Andy Bowma)
1996 Primal Fear (Dr. Molly Arrington), Fargo (Marge Gunderson), Lone Star (Bunny), Hidden in America (Gus)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 1996 saw McDormand take on her most famous role, pregnant North Dakota policewoman Marge Gunderson, a cheerful, hardworking woman tracking down two killers with a sharp mind and thick Scandinavian accent. Her performance is both honest and slightly theatrical, and won McDormand the Oscar for lead actress. Roger Ebert said in his review, "Frances McDormand should have a lock on an Academy Award nomination with this performance, which is true in every individual moment, and yet slyly, quietly, over the top in its cumulative effect."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 1997 Paradise Road (Dr. Verstak)
1998 Madeline (Miss Clavel), Talk of Angels (Conlon)
2000 Wonder Boys (Dean Sara Gaskell), Almost Famous (Elaine Miller)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ McDormand started out the aughts with two knockout supporting roles, both garnering critical acclaim and a slew of awards and nominations. Her role in Almost Famous as the over-protective mother of a young rock journalist earned her a third Academy Award nomination.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 2001 The Man Who Wasn't There (Doris Crane)
2002 City by the Sea (Michelle), Laurel Canyon (Jane)
2003 Something's Gotta Give (Zoe Barry)
2005 North Country (Glory Dodge), Aeon Flux (The Handler)
2006 Friends with Money (Jane)
2008 Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day (Guinevere Pettigrew), Burn After Reading (Linda Litzke)


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