While the Oscar season may have begun a few months back, unlike last year where La La Land was the clear favorite until the moment the Best Picture award was given to Moonlight, 2017 has been a bit unpredictable as there is no clear front-runner to take home the eventual award. Dunkirk was an early favorite is it is one of 2017’s best films, but as we head for the final days of 2017, the next film up as the favorite for Best Picture is Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Some of the recent precursors have made the film the favorite to win the most prestigious awards film can receive. The acclaim, along with the trailer released a few months back added to my anticipation for this film. The acclaim is merited as Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is not only one of the year’s best, but one of the most unpredictable films of the year.
On the surface, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a cliché story about a mother’s redemption. A mother who wants answers after her teenage daughter is brutally raped and murdered. After months pass without any progress on the case and little questions answered, her mother takes matters into her own hands as she rents three billboards outside of her small town, making everyone aware of the lack of progress in her case: “Raped While Dying”; “And Still No Arrests?”; “How Come, Chief Willoughby?”
However, we’re talking about Martin McDonagh here, the man behind the underrated film, Seven Psychopaths, so the predictable premise of the loving parent going after the bad police chief and eventually receiving some form of justice is out of the question in this film. Mcdonagh’s script is one of my favorite of 2017 and is one that brings a cleverness, wittiness, and brilliance on the screen that makes Three Billboards a must see watch.
Despite the subject of a teenage rape and murder, Three Billboards is one of the funniest films of the year. The smart, comedic, and at times over the top vulgarity between Mildred (Francis McDormand), Willoughby (Woody Harrelson), Dixon (Sam Rockwell), and James (Peter Dinklage) make this a front-runner as one of the years best ensemble awards at the SAG awards.
With a Best Picture frontrunner comes great performances and Three Billboards provides that. Francis McDormand is sensational in her role as Mildred. She captures the despair and struggle of a grieving mother and gives quite possibly her best performance since Fargo. Oscar nomination morning will surely be listing McDormand as a Best Actress nominee. While McDormand was great, Sam Rockwell’s take as Dixon is best in show. When the film opened, that was not a statement, I thought I would say, however, as the film concludes, Dixon receives the best character arch and development in the film and Rockwell’s performance is the one that not only should be nominated, but rewarded on Oscar night.
If there is one complaint about the film, that complaint is the films ending. While not wanting to get into spoiler territory, the film’s ending left me a bit underwhelmed. Despite that, the ending does not take away from the films overall effectiveness.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri is not for the faint of heart. The film’s comedic undertone over such a serious subject may rub casual filmgoers the wrong way. However, the film is one of the year’s smartest, funniest, and best.
Reel Talk gives Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri 3.5 Reels