Frances McDormand: Oscars Rebel

In honor of her second Academy Award, we look back at a career most curious.

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Frances McDormand is the rare A-list actor who refuses to play by Hollywood's rules. Zoom in on her at an awards show and you'll surely get a grimace. Present her with a statue for a riveting performance and you'll likely hear an acceptance speech extolling the power of women. Ask her about aging and, well, you can probably guess the response. McDormand is an eccentric, affecting talent — one worthy of all the accolades she's received. As she earns a second Academy Award for her performance in "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri," we look back at her highlight reel.

The First Time Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images The First Time McDormand made her feature-film debut in the Coen Brothers' 1984 Texas-set neo-noir, "Blood Simple." This would mark the beginning of a long collaboration with the directing pair, both on- and off-screen. (McDormand married Joel Coen in 1984.)
The Awards Bait Robert R. McElroy/Getty Images The Awards Bait Just four years after her debut, McDormand would earn her first Oscar nomination for the 1988 film "Mississippi Burning." While the crime thriller received mixed reviews, McDormand's performance as the wife of a Southern sheriff earned particular praise. Wrote Gene Siskel in The Chicago Tribune: "Frances McDormand, as the wife of one of the guilty rednecks, is most effective as the film's moral conscience." She would ultimately lose the Best Supporting Actress statue to Geena Davis in "The Accidental Tourist." The True Breakout Archive Photos/Getty Images The True Breakout Already a well-regarded actress by this point, McDormand's star shone even brighter following her performance in the 1996 drama "Fargo." The Coen Brothers film starred McDormand as pregnant Minnesota police chief Marge Gunderson, who investigates a string of murders perpetrated by a couple of hired goons. And with this turn, McDormand would be an Oscar runner-up no more, taking home the award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. "It is impossible to maintain one's composure in this situation," she began her acceptance speech. "What am I doing here? Especially 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." The Really Quirky One Franco Origlia/Getty Images The Really Quirky One McDormand would continue to star in Coen Brother films during the 2000s, including the highly ludicrous "Burn After Reading," which premiered at the 65th Venice Film Festival in 2008. (McDormand is seated at the event with husband Joel and co-stars George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, and Brad Pitt.) In the film, McDormand plays a gym employee who, along with her co-worker (Pitt), accidentally stumbles upon the secret memoirs of a CIA agent and tries to use them to her financial betterment.
The Small-Screen Stunner Mark Davis/Getty Images The Small-Screen Stunner McDormand has dabbled in television for decades, notching roles in "Hill Street Blues," "Leg Work," and "State of Grace." But it was the 2014 HBO miniseries "Olive Kitteridge," in which she starred and executive produced, that left her double-fisting Emmys (one for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or a Movie and the other for Outstanding Limited Series). The Gut Punch Kevin Winter/Getty Images The Gut Punch McDormand nabbed another Oscar for her portrayal of a grieving and aggrieved mother in "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri." She used her awards platform to call attention to all of the other female nominees of the night and challenge studio executives to tell their stories. "I have two words to leave with you tonight," she said. "Inclusion rider."
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