is unquestionably one of the greatest actresses working today. Her recent Best Actress Oscar win for Nomadland
(2020) has all but confirmed this notion, as she managed to top some of the stiffest competition the category has seen in years. Her performance in Chloe Zhao’s neo-western is the latest to deftly demonstrate her commanding ability to defy the preconceived expectations of women, especially women her age. There are strong hints of feminism to many of the characters she brings to life, and never in a way that feels overbearing. Moreover, despite the fact that many of her characters are inherently fictional, there is an even greater degree of truthful candor to them, largely due to how delicately she interprets them. Her characters don’t just break stereotypes so much as they also do so in a way that feels entirely natural and unquestionable. McDormand’s three Academy Award-winning performances are the most evident proof of how she is able to convince us she’s just a person going about her day, all but making us forget about her celebrity status. However, in a long and storied career, her most productive effort in this regard is that in her first winning turn in Fargo
Since the rise of the independent film movement of the 1980s and ‘90s, few combinations have been as effective as McDormand and her husband, Joel Coen
. As filmmakers, Coen and his brother, Ethan
, are practically a genre unto themselves. A Coen brothers movie is one with its own set of rules, its own understanding of human nature. A Coen brothers movie will not hesitate to subvert audience expectations and find the levity in even the most perilous of situations — a grisly murder could have just occurred and you’d still be hard pressed not to let out a slight chuckle. A Coen brothers movie peels back layers to reveal the morose underbelly of an idyllic landscape, a kind of disturbing realization that can only be found when you stop and take a look around. A Coen brothers movie can be damn near anything it wants to be, cause a whole lot can happen in the middle of nowhere. And no other entry in their distinguished oeuvre embodies such a sentiment better than the black comedic crime thrills of Fargo
. It stands to reason as to why Coen’s perennial leading woman feels like such a natural choice as the headliner of the movie.
Playing upon the conceit that what is to unfold is based on true events, Fargo
follows car salesman, Jerry Lundegaard — whose greedy, but dim-witted nature is perfectly embodied by William H. Macy