With The Shape Of Water looking to be the leader in this year’s Oscar predictions, it appears that Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri might be the film’s biggest competition. Pushing the boundaries of what is defined as a dark comedy, TBOEM is a breath of fresh air to the typical Oscar contenders. Writer and director Martin McDonagh adds to his impressive IMBd page, showcasing he is a serious contender when it comes to both directing and screenwriting. His work is lifted by his diverse cast who perfectly bring each character to life, the perfect balance between cast and creative to deliver a monumental film. TBOEM might not be for everyone, but its clever commentary on a variety of common issues means that is a film that should be watched by everyone.
It would be hard to write a review for this film without mentioning the force leading the film, the pitch-perfect Frances McDormand. It is hard to believe any actress could play this role, McDormand manages to portray a character who is unapologetically awful, but still managed to make audiences invested in her story and rooting for her to get a positive outcome. Director McDonagh allows the actress to explore the trauma of the character, particularly through flashbacks of the last year and through the relationships with her son and ex-husband. I thoroughly enjoyed the emotional dilemma put on the audience as we try to decide if we forgive and justify the characters erratic behaviour even after the destructive and illegal activities she carries out to try and find justice for her daughter.
Having not seen any of Sam Rockwell‘s previous work, I was pleasantly surprised with his performance, possibly being the biggest stand out of the film for me. A testament to a good actor in my eyes is how unlikeable a character can be whilst I can still appreciate the performance. Rockwell plays small-town American idiot well, but I am glad that McDonagh allows the character the storyline to grow morally and redeem himself. My biggest issue with the film is probably the ending, I really enjoyed the dynamic the story took for the characters of Mildred and Dixon, but thought their riding off into the sunset finale was a little cheesy. Rockwell deserves his Oscar nomination and it is looking likely that he will take home the statue.
It would be hard to go into detail about the performances without discussing the force that is Woody Harrelson. Again, another role that seems ideal for the actor, his character arc is one of the best seen on the big screen through 2017. The actor is superb and his character is not only believable but also relatable and honest. Harrelson had the skills to easily handle any difficult scene, I particularly enjoyed the way he portrayed and the film dealt with suicide, especially for those with terminal illnesses. I have always enjoyed Harrelson’s work, how is he yet to win an Academy Award!
In an industry that is often criticised for its lack of originality and constant investment into franchise films, TBOEM is a must-see for any film fan. Its unique story may appear simple, but is actually a complex look at the human character, the justice system, racism in modern America and most importantly, all aspects of family. It is a real shame that director McDonagh failed to gain a directing nomination, but in a stacked year, someone had to be left out. This film is a clear indication of a long and prosperous career, he clearly has demonstrated his ability to get amazing performances out of his entire ensemble. If your a film fan but can’t afford or don’t have the time to see all this year’s contenders, I highly recommend putting this near the top of your list.
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