Frances McDormand is the kind of actress you either love or don’t know much about since hating her takes a lot of effort it seems. Maybe it’s her character or maybe it’s some other quality that makes it so hard to even dislike her, but the truth is that she’s a very talented woman and also one of the old-schoolers that’s been around since the 80s. A lot of her movies have a humorous quality to them that’s either very dark in nature or at the very least has a sarcastic lean to it. In a big way her delivery is what might make her humorous, not so much the lines she speaks. In a lot of ways she’s one of the better dramatic actors around since she can play pretty much any part she’s given in a convincing manner. Like anyone she’s been in her fair share of flops but she’s also had some great triumphs as well.
Here are her five best movies.
5. Blood Simple
Garin Pirnia of Mental Floss might make this movie seem a bit more complicated than it really is with the facts that were compiled since in a big way this movie is all about a man that finds out that his wife is cheating on him with his employee and sends a hitman to kill them. When the hitman decides to leave them alive in order to implicate them in the murder of the man that hired him the employee finds the man wounded and buries him alive. The woman in turn thinks that her lover did something to her husband and defends herself, but kills the assassin instead. It’s a giant game of “I got you, no I got YOU” in a big sense.
4. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Alissa Wilkenson of Vox states that this movie has a lot to do with redemption, and she’s right. Mildred is a one-woman wrecking crew as she goes about laying into whoever looks at her wrong when it comes to finding out who raped and killed her daughter. But a funny thing happens as the fighting escalates between her and certain townsfolk that object to the billboards she’s puts up to call out the police. People actually start taking sides, and despite the burning of the police station and the fact that she could have killed a man, that same deputy that she set ablaze eventually turns his life around and seeks to help her.
3. Almost Famous
Being the mom that worries over her kids is all well and good, but being the mom that tries to convince her children that certain things are okay and certain things aren’t is kind of a double-edged sword since it doesn’t often work past a certain age, like when the kids are old enough to think for themselves. In this movie you get the feeling that the main protagonist is a bit rebellious in his own way even though it takes a while to really see this streak, and that the mom is doing the best she can but is kind of coming up short now and again when it comes to really being a mother and less of an authoritarian.
2. Mississippi Burning
Joe Carter of The Gospel Coalition has a few things to say about this movie and the reality of what went on during that time. There are moments when it’s hard to watch the hatred that is displayed by other human beings towards one another since honestly it’s detestable in a big way and hard to fully comprehend. The idea that anyone would threaten another human being or harm them for seemingly no other reason than they’re different or don’t have the same lifestyle is abhorrent, but movies like this exist to remind us that this is reality, and that while we get to write it and expose it, we’re not always going to like it.
This is one of those kooky movies that you can’t help but like since the characters are developed just enough to be interesting and are there for your amusement as well as to pay attention to since pushing the story forward is important, but it’s not the only thing. There’s a lot of moving parts to this story since it takes a while for the main characters to really interact, but it’s worth the watch mostly because of the odd and somewhat disquieting ways that it turns out for some of the characters. If you can imagine a guy trying to destroy evidence of a murder by shoving a person into a wood chipper then you might be able to get a good handle on a movie like this. If not, well, then you might need to watch something else.
Frances is without a doubt a lot of fun to watch even when she’s being dead serious.