chapter  16
New Hollywood's new women: murder in mind — Sarah and Margie
Pages 16

Frances McDormand cut a strikingly anomalous figure at the 1996 Oscar Awards (March 1997) - an anomaly underlined by the contrast between her and Juliette Binoche, who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress that year. Binoche oozed glamour, glided across the stage, and was appropriately distraught. She managed to insult veteran Hollywood star Lauren Bacall in her attempt to pay homage. McDormand was clothed in a very simple blue dress, severe by Hollywood standards in comparison to Binoche's elaborate opulent gown. McDormand awkwardly climbed the stairs, looking pale, 'unmade up', her bare back muscular rather than erotic. She strutted across the stage, a displaced 'butch' in a 'femme' role. Though obviously moved, she retained enough composure to attribute dignity rather than pathos to her fellow nominees. As the camera lingered on each in turn, McDormand's refusal of her role as Hollywood star was further emphasized. The traditional series of close-ups of the 'losers' seemed designed to frame the luscious lips, bejewelled necks and elaborate coiffures that characterized the four other nominees, often in stark contrast to the roles that they had played. Frances McDormand, notwithstanding the Oscar grasped in her hands, was out of place.