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December 13, 2017

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri: By Far The Best Film I’ve Seen In Years

by Jack Spinella

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is the first film of 2017 that I can call amazing. With so many big releases this year ranging from average to disappointing, it feels great to walk out of a theater nearly 100% satisfied. Three Billboards centers around Mildred Hayes, played by Frances McDormand, who’s daughter was raped and murdered nearly a year ago. After seven months of silence from the local police Mildred, still obviously recovering from the loss of her daughter, takes it upon herself to put the case back in the public eye. Mildred buys up three run down billboards and plasterers the messages, “raped while dying.” “and still no arrests.” and “How come, Chief Willoughby?” This obvious sparks outrage in the quiet town of Ebbing, Missouri from not only the local police, but also everyday citizens. That is all I want to give away.

The more blind you can go into this film the better, as chances are it will not go in the direction you expect, which is one of its best qualities. Three Billboards isn’t just well acted, directed, and written, it also has one of the most originally stories since Get Out early this year. The twists and turns of Three Billboard come as a breath of fresh air from the predicable summer blockbusters and obvious Oscar bait. I watched Ladybird, another Oscar contender, the same weekend as Three Billboard and while the coming of age film was very well done, the sheer originality of Three Billboards overshadow most of the other big releases. Nothing is as it seems at first glance with Three Billboards, the viewer is always getting their assumptions corrected. While I don’t want to go into much more detail about the plot, that doesn’t mean I can’t go into the characters.

Mildred Hayes is the focus of Three Billboards and Frances McDormand steals almost every scene she’s in. McDormand is the clear front-runner for best lead actress at the Oscars this year and it’s not hard to see why. Sam Rockwell plays the bumbling cop Dixson, and is also receiving his fair share of Oscar buzz. Woody Harrelson plays the more level headed Chief Willoughby, and his performance proves that Harrelson’s career revival is incredibly well deserved. Caleb Landry Jones plays the billboard salesmen Red, who unfortunately gets roped into Mildred´s mess after agreeing to put up her messages to the police. Peter Dinklage has a relatively small role but is so good and given such great material to work with that he even steals some scenes from McDormand. The way I’m describing the characters might make it seem like they are a little one dimensional, however, I can assure they are anything but. No one is all good or all evil, everyone has layers that you won’t see at first glance. The characters make this crazy world that the movie creates feel  alive, each one is given just enough screen time and development, no one feels over or underused. The entire cast does a great job, with the exception of Lucas Hedges who plays Mildred’s son Robbie. While not terrible by any means, it’s easy to notice his shortcomings when stacked up against so many amazing actors. If the movie wasn’t stuffed with so much talent, Hedge’s performance wouldn’t have stuck me as poor. The cast is also able to demonstrate plenty range in just this film alone, as Three Billboard is actually and incredibly funny dark comedy.

 

Three Billboards is the funnest films I’ve seen all year, which is pretty unexpected considering the plot centers around the aftermath of the rape and murder of a teenage girl. While this might lead some to believe the tone is sporadic and all over the place, the film still manages to be gripping, suspenseful and hilarious, no small feat by any means. That being said Three Billboards has a sense of humor that really isn’t for everyone. Punch lines can get mean spirited and offensive at times, and while I never thought the film went too far, some people might see it as crossing the line. The comedic elements mixed with the serious subject matter gives the film a unique edge that you don’t see a lot nowadays. The writing is tight and snappy much like a Quentin Tarantino film,In fact the whole film has a Tarantino feel to it, from the dark humor, to the violence and language. The script  like a script that was written and rewritten tens of times until it was seamless. The writer and director, Martin McDonagh did an incredibly job with Three Billboards and I can easily see his career taking off in the years to come thanks to his work here. The near perfect script is the number one reason I never felt the least bit bored during Three Billboard’s two hour run time. Along with best actress and best supporting actor, Three Billboards also has best original screenplay locked down at the Oscars by a landslide.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is as close to perfect as a film can get, and it will most likely go down as my favorite film of the year. This was the first film in a very long time that I wanted to watch over again the second it had finished. The acting, directing, writing, cinematography, and plot are all top notch, with several spectacular moment that are now ingrained in my brain. While I usually go out of my way to find flaws with a film, I honestly can’t think of anything that really bogs down Three Billboards. Others might take issue with the tone, language or comedic elements, Changes are I will never see eye to eye with them. If you can rarely making it out to the theater for an R-rated film or just a movie in general, I urge you to check out this one. I would go as far to say that Three Billboards more than deserves best picture this year, it’s really just that good.

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