Oscars 2021: Frances McDormand HOWLS onstage in tribute to late friend as she wins third Best Actress gong

FRANCES McDormand howled like a wolf onstage as her film Nomadland won Best Picture at the Oscars.

The actress, 63, let out the ferocious howl in tribute to Nomadland sound mixer Michael Wolf Snyder, who died by suicide earlier this year.

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Frances had taken to the stage alongside Nomadland director Chloe Zhao to accept Best Picture at the 93rd Academy Awards on Sunday night.

“Please, watch our movie on the largest screen possible," she said during the acceptance speech.

“And one day, very, very soon, take everyone you know into a theater, shoulder to shoulder, in that dark space and watch every film that is represented here tonight. We give this one to our wolf.”

As Frances howled, her costars looked on in a mixture of shock and admiration as they clapped around her.


The Three Billboards Outside Epping, Missouri star explained that she was paying tribute to their late coworker Michael, who died aged 35 in March.

"The howling is for our production designer Wolf who you saw in the In Memoriam," she said.

"We unfortunately lost him recently, and his name is Wolf and he’s the production sound mixer both on my previous film The Rider and Nomadland.

"He’s part of the family. So, that howling to the moon is for Wolf.”

Michael's body was found by his father in his apartment in Queens, New York, after he hadn’t heard from his son in several days.

His dad wrote on Facebook: “Michael took his own life sometime in the last week and wasn’t discovered until I went to check on him Monday after he had dropped out of contact for several days.

“He has suffered from major depression for many years. For most people, this is an illness that waxes and wanes over the years.

"I’m sure it was difficult for Michael that he spent most of the last year alone in his small, Queens apartment, being responsible about dealing with the coronavirus."

He added: "In spite of this, we all believed he was doing well, and for most of this past year I think he was.

"He seemed especially joyful and invigorated in these last few months since he was able to return to work on several different film projects.

"He was certainly thrilled about all of the accolades for Nomadland and told us many happy stories about his work on the film and the amazing people he got to spend time with."

Frances had said in a statement following his death: “Wolf recorded our heart beats. Our every breath. For me, he is Nomadland.”

Elsewhere on Sunday night, the actress scored her third Best Actress gong – again for Nomadland and her sixth Oscar nomination.

Frances beat Andre Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday), Viola Davis (Ma Rainey's Black Bottom), Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman) and Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman).

She joked that the Oscars should have a karaoke bar in her acceptance speech.

"Look, they didn't ask me but if they had, I would have said karaoke. Because when you've got voices like Leslie [Odom Jr.] and Marcus [Mumford], we should have had a karaoke bar," she said.

Frances added: "I have no words, my voice is in my sword. We know the sword is our work. And I like work. Thank you for knowing that, and thanks for this."

Nomadland follows a widow named Fern (Frances) in her 60s who travels through the American West in a van after the collapse of her company town in rural Nevada.

The drama's director Chloe Zhao became the first Asian woman – and the second woman ever – to win an Oscar for Best Director earlier in the evening.

If you or someone you know is affected by any of the issues raised in this story, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or text Crisis Text Line at 741741.

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