Frances McDormand's Oscars acceptance speech saw her howling on stage–but there's a heartbreaking reason behind her wolf cry

Frances McDormand's Oscars acceptance speech for Best Actress featured this unique honor to Michael Wolf Snyder

Actor Frances McDormand at the Oscars, winner of the Best Actress award for 'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri' poses in the press room during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood
(Image credit: Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage via Getty)

Actor Frances McDormand’s Oscars acceptance speech was a highly memorable part of an already amazing evening, but the heartbreaking reason for her wolf howl has really got people talking. 

Frances McDormand had a tremendous awards night as she was awarded another Oscar - this time for her fabulous performance in Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland. This year's ceremony saw bright colors rule supreme on the red carpet, whilst Glenn Close made history, albeit not in the way she might have hoped, as she suffered her eighth Oscars loss.  

And whilst Anthony Hopkins declined an invitation to the ceremony, he still went on to become the oldest ever winner. Anthony took home the much-coveted Best Actor prize, whilst Frances McDormand won Best Actress. 

But as viewers across the world enjoyed the exciting ceremony from home—like many of the stars themselves— they were left touched by the unique way Frances McDormand’s Oscars acceptance speech paid tribute to one of her late colleagues.  

The Oscar winner declared, “I have no words: my voice is in my sword” quoting Macduff as he fights Macbeth, before continuing: “We know the sword is our work, and I like work. Thank you for knowing that, and thanks for this.”

During Frances McDormand’s acceptance speech, things also took a turn for the extraordinary as she let out a wolf-like howl.

This unabashed vocalization was a heartwrenching tribute to Michael Wolf Snyder, who passed away in March aged just 35. Michael was the production sound mixer on Nomadland — the film Frances won her Oscar for and which she also acted as producer on.

Having won the ultimate award for her own involvement in Nomadland, Frances’ acceptance speech was the perfect way to honor her late colleague who helped make it possible.

How many Oscars has Frances McDormand won?

Whilst Frances McDormand's acceptance speech has no doubt touched many Oscars fans who tuned in last night, this is not the first time the actor has gone home with the iconic golden statue.  

Frances McDormand and Chloe Zhao, winners of Best Picture for "Nomadland," pose in the press room at the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station in Los Angeles

(Image credit: Photo by Chris Pizzello-Pool/Getty Images)

Frances has won three individual Oscars now, having previously been awarded the Best Actress Oscar for Fargo and Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri.

This astonishing achievement means Frances is now second only to Katharine Hepburn for the number of Best Actress wins.

What is Nomadland about?

Frances McDormand’s acceptance speech was not the only one given by the cast and crew of Nomadland at the Oscars 2021. Director Chloé Zhao became only the second woman ever to win the Best Director Oscar and was also awarded one for Best Picture.  

The stunning film, which Chloé also wrote and produced, is inspired by author Jessica Bruder’s non-fiction book Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century. It follows Fern, played by Frances, who loses her job shortly after the death of her husband. 

With life as she knew it changed forever, Fern sells her belongings and decides to live in a van as she travels across America, looking for work. 

And she’s not the only to embrace this nomadic lifestyle, as Fern soon comes across other nomads who teach her the basic survival skills she needs in order to thrive in her life on the road.

Setting out to find purpose and a new perspective, it seems that taking to the road is the best step Fern could have taken to truly discover herself.

Who is in the Nomadland cast?

Whilst it may surprise some fans, Nomadland is even more remarkable for the way that the cast is largely made up of non-actors. Alongside Frances McDormand is David Strathairn, perhaps best known for his performances in The Bourne Ultimatum and Lincoln. 

Father of Bride Part II star Peter Spears is also part of the Nomadland cast, but there are many people included in the film who aren’t professional actors. Many are understood to be living nomadic lives and are playing fictional versions of themselves.

What is the Nomadland release date?

If you’re intrigued to see Frances McDormand’s stunning performance for yourself, then you won’t have to wait long. 

Nomadland is set to come to Disney+ in the UK and Ireland on April 30, whilst US subscribers can already watch the film on Hulu now.

Emma Shacklock
Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Senior Lifestyle Writer with five years experience working in digital publishing, ranging from book publishing to magazines. She currently looks after all things Lifestyle for Woman&Home, GoodToKnow and My Imperfect Life.


Before she joined Future Publishing, Emma graduated from the University of Warwick with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Comparative Literary Studies. After leaving education, she started out her publishing career in the world of books, working as a Publisher for an independent digital publisher specializing in back-list and debut commercial fiction novels. With a huge book list and a passion for bringing the best stories to the broadest audience possible, Emma filled her spare time with reading the latest best-sellers and catching up on hit adaptations.


In 2017 she joined TI Media as a fiction writing coordinator on Woman’s Weekly and Woman’s Weekly Fiction as part of the features team. From here, she used her love of books, working to bring short stories to our dedicated readers and began writing for the books pages of Woman, Woman’s Own and Woman&Home, as well as online features ranging from genre round-ups to travel pieces for womanandhome.com. 


After honing her skills, Emma branched out online in 2020 when Future gave her the opportunity to focus on digital-first. When she’s not writing about the next big lifestyle trend, she enjoys cooking, long walks and watching as many crime dramas as she can!