Frances Louise McDormand (born Cynthia Ann Smith, June 23, 1957) is an American actress. She has been hailed as one of the most talented actresses of her generation and is known for her portrayal of unique, quirky and headstrong female characters.
McDormand has starred in a number of films by the Joel & Ethan Coen (she and Joel have been married since 1984), including Blood Simple (1984), with John Getz, Dan Hedaya, and M. Emmett Walsh; Raising Arizona (1987), with Nicolas Cage, Holly Hunter, John Goodman, and William Forsythe; Fargo (1996), with William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare, and Harve Presnell; The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001), with Billy Bob Thornton, James Gandolfini, Michael Badalucco, Richard Jenkins, Scarlett Johansson, Jon Polito, and Tony Shalhoub; Burn After Reading (2008), with George Clooney, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton, Jenkins, Brad Pitt, and J.K. Simmons; and Hail, Caesar! (2016), with Josh Brolin, Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, Johansson, Swinton, and Channing Tatum.
For playing Marge Gunderson in Fargo, she won the Academy Award for Best Actress. Her other film roles include Mississippi Burning (1988), with Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe; Almost Famous (2000), with Patrick Fugit, Kate Hudson, Billy Crudup, Jason Lee, and Philip Seymour Hoffman and North Country (2005), with Charlize Theron, Sean Bean, Richard Jenkins, Michelle Monaghan, Jeremy Renner, Woody Harrelson, and Sissy Spacek; all earning her nominations for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
In 2017 she started as a hardened woman seeking justice for her daughter’s murder in Martin McDonagh‘s crime-drama film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (co-starring Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Abbie Cornish, John Hawkes, and Peter Dinklage), which won her a second Academy Award for Best Actress. She’s also won two Primetime Emmy Awards (for the HBO miniseries Olive Kitteridge) and a Tony Award, making her one of the few performers to achieve the Triple Crown of Acting.
Other notable roles include Chattahoochee (1989), with Gary Oldman, Dennis Hopper, Pamela Reed, Ned Beatty, and Walsh; Sam Raimi‘s Darkman (1990), with Liam Neeson; Robert Altman‘s Short Cuts (1993), with Jack Lemmon, Julianne Moore, Tim Robbins, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Chris Penn, Lily Tomlin, and Tom Waits; John Sayles‘s Lone Star (1996), with Chris Cooper, Kris Kristofferson, Matthew McConaughey and Elizabeth Peña; Curtis Hanson’s Wonder Boys (2000), with Michael Douglas, Tobey Mguire, Katie Holmes, Rip Torn, and Robert Downey Jr.; Nancy Meyers’s Something’s Gotta Give (2003), with Diane Keaton, Jack Nicholson, and Keanu Reeves; Nicole Holofcener‘s Friends with Money (2006), with Jennifer Anniston, Joan Cusack, and Catherine Keener; Wes Anderson‘s Moonrise Kingdom (2012), with Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Jason Schwartzman, Harvey Keitel, and Bob Balaban, and Gus Van Sant‘s Promised Land (2012), with Matt Damon, John Krasinski, Rosemarie DeWitt and Hal Holbrook.
McDormand won her third Academy Award for Best Actress and her first Best Picture Academy Award for Chloé Zhao‘s Nomadland (2020), with David Strathairn.
Each review will be linked to the title below.
(*seen originally in theaters)
(**seen released in theaters)
- Blood Simple (1984) – directed by Joel & Ethan Coen
- Crimewave (1985) – directed by Sam Raimi
- Raising Arizona (1987) – directed by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
- Mississippi Burning (1988) – directed by Alan Parker
- Chattahoochee (1989) – directed by Mick Jackson
- Hidden Agenda (1990) – directed by Ken Loach
- Miller’s Crossing (1990) – directed by Joel & Ethan Coen – uncredited
- Darkman (1990) – directed by Sam Raimi
- Barton Fink (1991) – directed by Joel & Ethan Coen – uncredited voice
- The Butcher’s Wife (1991) – directed by Terry Hughes
- Passed Away (1992) – directed by Charlie Peters
- Short Cuts (1993) – directed by Robert Altman
- Bleeding Hearts (1994) – directed by Gregory Hines
- The Hudsucker Proxy (1994) – directed by Joel & Ethan Coen – uncredited
- Beyond Rangoon (1995) – directed by John Boorman
- Palookaville (1995) – directed by Alan Taylor
- Fargo (1996)** – directed by Joel & Ethan Coen
- Primal Fear (1996) – directed by Gregory Hoblit
- Lone Star (1996) – directed by John Sayles
- Paradise Road (1997) – directed by Bruce Beresford
- Johnny Skidmarks (1998) – directed by John Raffo
- Madeline (1998)* – directed by Daisy von Scherler Mayer
- Talk of Angels (1998) – directed by Nick Hamm
- Wonder Boys (2000) – directed by Curtis Hanson
- Almost Famous (2000) – directed by Cameron Crowe
- The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001) – directed by Joel & Ethan Coen
- Laurel Canyon (2002) – directed by Lisa Cholodenko
- City by the Sea (2002) – directed by Michael Caton-Jones
- Something’s Gotta Give (2003)* – directed by Nancy Meyers
- North Country (2005) – directed by Niki Caro
- Æon Flux (2005) – directed by Karyn Kusama
- Friends with Money (2006) – directed by Nicole Holofcener
- Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (2008) – directed by Bharat Nalluri
- Burn After Reading (2008)* – directed by Joel & Ethan Coen
- This Must Be the Place (2011) – directed by Paolo Sorrentino
- Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)* – Michael Bay
- Moonrise Kingdom (2012)* – directed by Wes Anderson
- Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (2012) – directed by Eric Darnell, Conrad Vernon & Tom McGrath
- Promised Land (2012) – directed by Gus Van Sant
- Every Secret Thing (2014) – directed by Amy J. Berg – producer only
- The Good Dinosaur (2015) – directed by Peter Sohn
- Hail, Caesar! (2016)* – directed by Joel & Ethan Coen
- Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)* – directed by Martin McDonagh
- Isle of Dogs (2018)* – directed by Wes Anderson
- Nomadland (2020) – directed by Chloé Zhao – also producer
- The French Dispatch of the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun (2021)* – directed by Wes Anderson
- The Tragedy of Macbeth (2021) – directed by Joel Coen