Frances McDormand’s Oscars Howl Wasn’t Just an Eccentric Quip

Frances McDormand
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In recent years, Frances McDormand has garnered a bit of a reputation for giving acceptance speeches that certainly stand out from those given by her peers, and when she joined filmmaker Chloé Zhao on stage at the 93rd Academy Awards to accept the Best Picture Oscar for Nomadland, she did not disappoint.

When the producers, and director of Nomadland accepted the Best Picture award, McDormand also took the stage to say a few words. “Please watch our movie on the largest screen possible, and one day very soon, take everyone you know into that dark space and watch every film that’s represented here tonight,” she said, before adding, “We give this one to our Wolf.” Then, unexpectedly, she let out a guttural howl.

While some viewers may have chalked up McDormand howling like a wolf to just be an eccentric interlude in line with her brand , the meaning behind her dedication is much more serious. Michael Wolf Snyder, Nomadland’s sound designer, is the “Wolf” she was commemorating during her speech. The 35-year-old died by suicide on March 1.

Snyder had collaborated with Zhao in 2017 on her film The Rider. “On The Rider and Nomadland, I always looked at Wolf after each take. I didn’t wear headphones on set and so I heavily relied on Wolf to be my ears,” the filmmaker told Variety after hearing of Snyder’s death. “I will always miss him.”

McDormand also told Variety, “Wolf recorded our heart beats. Our every breath. For me, he is Nomadland.”

Sunday night was quite a big night for Nomadland and its cast and crew. McDormand took home the award for Best Actress, and Zhao won the Oscar for Best Director. The actress also suggested during her other acceptance speech on Sunday night that, in a year with so many actors nominated for their voices, the Oscars should have set up a karaoke bar for everyone.