Say what you will about Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri — the controversy-stirring movie brought one wonderful element to the awards season tableau, and that is Frances McDormand. McDormand has swept awards season, racking up Best Actress at the Golden Globes, the SAG Awards, and now, officially, the Oscars. McDormand delivered powerful (and curse-filled) invectives at each event — but they were all building towards this climax. McDormand made her win a win for all the women in the room, a fitting complement to the #MeToo and Times Up threads that has woven throughout awards season.
When McDormand took the stage, she was bursting with emotion. She was, quite literally, trembling. After thanking Martin McDonagh, the movie's director, and her "clan" (oh, to be a part of Frances McDormand's clan!), McDormand put down her Oscar statuette and delved into the meat of her speech.
First, she asked all the women nominees in the room to rise to their feet. The producers. The directors. The actresses. The cinematographer (the first ever nominee). The scene of women united in the Dolby Theater was a powerful one.
Now, with all these women standing, McDormand addressed the men in the room. "Look around, everyone, because we all have stories to tell and projects we need financed," she said. "Invite us into your office in a couple days. Or you can come to ours." It's not enough to wear a pin, she's saying. Men in Hollywood have to support women's projects fiscally, too.
McDormand ended her speech with two words: "Inclusion rider." Inclusion riders are terms in contracts that provide for gender and racial diversity. As Whitney Cummings explained in a tweet this weekend, "an inclusion rider is something actors put into their contracts to ensure gender and racial equality in hiring on movie sets. We should support this for a billion reasons, but if you can't find a reason to, here's one: it will make movies better."
The symmetry between McDormand and her Three Billboards character, Mildred Hayes, is eerie. Mildred in Three Billboards was furious — furious with the police inaction, furious with the way people stopped caring about her daughter's murder. So, she took action, rented out some billboards, and plastered her message in a very public setting. Fittingly, McDormand is using the highly public platform Mildred gave her to try to change the system that she lives and works in: Hollywood.
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