In a year where only a few films have solidified themselves as true Best Picture contenders for Awards Season, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri immediately pushes its rivals to the side to bask in the Oscar Buzz. Martin McDonagh directs a powerful character study that shows how one act can cause multiple reactions that affects people’s lives in many different ways. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri focuses on a frustrated mother named Mildred (Frances McDormand) whose daughter was brutally murdered seven months prior to the beginning of the movie. With no breaks in the case, Mildred rents three billboards outside of town with information about the murder and questioning the town’s beloved Police Chief Willoughby’s competence. Mildred definitely gets a reaction from the signs leading to chaos for the people connected to the case.
Frances McDormand shows why she already has an Oscar sitting on her shelf portraying the foul-mouthed Mildred who decides to take matters into her own hands to find the answers she’s looking for. She’s definitely a damaged soul deserving of sympathy from what she’s been through, but there are times where she can be thoughtless, cruel and downright mean. She’s a complex character and that’s what makes her and the rest of the players involved so intriguing to watch. McDormand takes Mildred to some dark places that will make you cringe then giggle even though you know you shouldn’t be laughing at something so serious.
Besides the outstanding acting from Frances McDormand, the supporting cast around her are excellent including Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell who both deliver Oscar caliber performances. Harrelson does some of the best acting work of his career as the lovable Chief Willoughby. He has a dry wit about him that will make you laugh, but is also surrounded by a great deal of sadness and stress due to certain situations in his life. No matter how bad Mildred wants to make the town’s law enforcement look bad, at times Willoughby is the most sympathetic character in Three Billboards.
The underrated Sam Rockwell shines and will surely garner some major Oscar buzz playing the dim-witted and often despicable Officer Dixon. Rockwell’s character has one of the more interesting arcs in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri as a very believable doofus who is unaware there is anything wrong with his ignorant way of thinking. He’s a loose cannon that flies off the handle at a moment’s notice and has no respect for the law he was sworn to protect. Rockwell often finds a way to make you giggle at Dixon over his stupid actions and big dumb mouth that ussually gets him in trouble throughout the film. Both Rockwell and Woody Harrelson give knockout performances that could find them competing against each other in the Best Supporting Actor category.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri takes some unexpected turns and doesn’t always give you the closure you want, which serves as a metaphor for real life. Director Martin McDonagh should really be commended by his ability to balance such serious subject matter with dark humor. McDonagh is no stranger to dealing with a story that focuses on the murder of a child having directed In Bruges, but it’s still impressive that McDonagh can make you laugh while dealing with every parent’s worst nightmare. It also helps that the cast, which includes Oscar Nominee Lucas Hedges and Game of Thrones‘ star Peter Dinklage make up the best acting ensemble of 2017. The entire crew all perform at the top of their game no matter how big or small their roles are. If you’re interested in seeing a true Oscar contender for 2017, then look no farther than Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
Overall, I give Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri 3.5 out of 4 stars.
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