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The touching meaning behind Frances McDormand's Oscars acceptance speech howl

Gesture was a tribute to Nomadland's late sound editor

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Eve Crosbie
Eve CrosbieTV & Film Writer
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Frances McDormand's acceptance speech howl will go down in history as one of the most bizarre moments of the 2021 Academy Awards.

MORE: Emerald Fennell's Oscar speech features a surprising mention

The 63-year-old actress, who also took home the gong for Best Actress in a Leading Role, surprised viewers by howling like a wolf while collecting Nomadland's award for Best Picture.

But it turns out there is a heartfelt reason behind the outburst.

WATCH: Frances McDormand howls like a wolf in her Best Picture acceptance speech

"Please watch our movie on the largest screen possible," the actress said as she took to the stage to accept the prize."And one day very, very soon, take everyone you know into a theater, shoulder to shoulder in that dark space and watch every film that's represented here tonight. We give this one to our Wolf."

She then threw her head back and gave a realistic wolf howl onstage as the audience applauded. 

nomadland frances win© Photo: Getty Images

Frances also took home the award for Best Actress

The moment was a tribute to Michael Wolf Snyder, Nomadland's sound mixer who died by suicide in March. He had previously worked on projects including Amazon's Good Omens and Nomadland director Chloé Zhao's 2017's film The Rider.

MORE: Everything you need to know about Nomadland

Speaking in the winner's room after the ceremony, Chloé explained: "The howling is for our production designer Wolf who you saw in the In Memorium – we unfortunately lost him recently ... He’s part of the family. So, that howling to the moon is for Wolf.”

michael wolf snyder z© Searchlight Pictures

The gesture was a tribute to the film's late sound editor Michael Wolf Snyder

At the time of his death, a statement was released on behalf of the entire cast and crew of the film that read: "While our hearts break with Wolf's loss, we hope it is a comfort to know that his spirit will live forever in every laugh he recorded, every breeze, and every gallop of a horse. He was part of our little movie family and his kind soul touched us all. 

MORE: Nomadland, Anthony Hopkins, and Daniel Kaluuya: Oscars 2021 winners list

"Wolf truly brought life to our film. We send our condolences to his family on behalf of the entire Nomadland company. See you down the road, sweet friend."

Earlier in the evening, Chloé became the first Asian woman - and the second woman ever - to win an Oscar for Best Director. The drama film, which is based on the 2017 book by the same name, will be released on Disney+ on April 30.

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