Frances McDormand Wins Hearts as Well as Oscar

*Article written by Ellie Brown*

Following the controversy surrounding Hollywood recently (@HarveyWeinstein), the Academy Awards were much anticipated, and a great deal was expected of the board to come face to face with and make a stand against, all that the industry has been accused of. The board delivered a somewhat representative selection of awards; however, it is clear there is still a long way to go in diversifying the movie industry. Nevertheless, one woman certainly stood out as an embodiment of the strength and defiance so desperately needed in Hollywood.

Frances McDormand won best actress for her role in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, where she plays the mother of a murdered girl demanding answers and justice. Her character takes on a strikingly typical force of patriarchal power and tradition in her struggle. How appropriate that in the wake of the suppression, intimidation and exploitation of women in Hollywood, a role showing the possibility of breaking away from this dominance, of overcoming masculine control and making autonomous demands, should receive so much attention and come away with the pinnacle of praise. However, it was not only seeing McDormand’s resilient character take away the award that was so powerful in these times- but the actress herself.

When accepting her speech, she invited all female nominees in the audience to stand with her, telling the crowd of their “stories” and “projects” that need the attention and backing of the industry. She brought attention to the talent, capability and potential of those women, and in doing so highlighted the fact that Hollywood was barely touching the surface of what the women in the industry have to offer. She also stressed the importance of diversity in filmmaking, by bringing up the “inclusion rider:” a clause which actors can insist upon in their contracts in order to ensure diversity in both cast and crew.

Coming just a few days before International Women’s Day, McDormand embodied everything that should be represented to young women, and men, in current society. The huge potential women have for success, and the responsibility that lies with everyone to raise women up. It is clear that progress needs to continue, and people like Frances McDormand are the driving force behind it.