“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” is one of the very best films of 2017

Very few films are perfect. That’s a rare beast in the cinematic world. So, I want to be perfectly clear when I say that Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is perfect. It truly is. The movie stands tall among almost every single other 2017 release. As terrific as the Trailers have been, they in no way prepare you for the staggering heights of this work. Opening in theaters this week, it could very well become a strong hit for Fox Searchlight. Beyond that, the flick is undoubtedly going to be an Academy Award favorite when nominations are announced. That goes without saying at this point. Voters will go hard for this one.

This movie is a black comedy of sorts. It has been many month since Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) found out that her daughter was raped and murdered. The police, led by Chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) have no leads, and her frustration has mounted. In a fit of rage, she rents a trio of billboards on the outskirts of town, with messaged aimed at spurring action on the case. Willoughby attempts to reason with her, while racist and simply Officer Dixon (Sam Rockwell) goes with a blunter route. She won’t budge though. Even with her son Robbie (Lucas Hedges) and ex husband Charlie (John Hawkes) on her case, she just wants someone to pay for what was done to her daughter. I won’t say where this film goes, but every character ends up in a completely unexpected place. Martin McDonagh writes and directs, with the cast also including Kerry Condon, Abbie Cornish, Peter Dinklage, Zeljko Ivanek, Caleb Landry Jones, Clarke Peters, Amanda Warren, Samantha Weaving, and more. Carter Burwell is behind the score, while the cinematography is by Ben Davis.

Again, the film is perfection to me. Harrelson, McDormand, and Rockwell do near or actual career best work, while McDonagh showcases that he’s one of the most original voices in cinema. Not only is the picture funny, it’s angry and sad as well, in equal measure. This is about as full a cinematic meal as it gets. The fact that a character like Rockwell’s can become someone sympathetic is a credit to both the performance and the script. McDormand is going to contend for another Oscar, while Rockwell is finally going to at least get nominated, if not outright win. More on that next…

We might have a new Oscar frontrunner here with Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Fox Searchlight would be wise to launch an across the board campaign, look to score in Best Picture, Best Director (for McDonagh), Best Actress (for McDormand), Best Supporting Actor (for Harrelson and/or Rockwell, likely the latter), Best Supporting Actress (for Cornish), Best Original Screenplay (also for McDonagh), Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, and Best Original Score. Over a half dozen nominations are within reach, as the movie seems poised to at least do well in the majors. Picture, Director/Original Screenplay for McDonagh, Actress for McDormand, and Supporting Actor for Rockwell appear almost safe bets at this point, with anything below the line just helping to potential make it overall the one to beat.

Here is what I think are Rockwell’s ten best performances to date:

10. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
9. Everybody’s Fine
8. Conviction
7. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
6. Matchstick Men
5. Snow Angels
4. The Way Way Back
3. Choke
2. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
1. Moon

In addition, here’s McDormand’s ten best so far:

10. Promised Land
9. Friends With Money
8. Wonder Boys
7. Missisippi Burning
6. North Country
5. Laurel Canyon
4. Burn After Reading
3. Fargo
2. Almost Famous
1. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

As a bonus, here is Harrelson’s too:

10. No Country for Old Men
9. Out of the Furnace
8. Natural Born Killers
7. Seven Psychopaths
6. Zombieland
5. The Edge of Seventeen
4. The Messenger
3. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
2. Rampart
1. The People vs Larry Flynt

Starting tomorrow, audiences can see one of 2017’s biggest Oscar hopefuls when Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri begins opening on a platform basis. This picture is an instant classic in my eyes. This will be high up on my year end top ten list, if not eventually working its way to the overall number one position. Again, it’s just that good. This is an absolute must see. Look for it this weekend, and if not then, when it expands in the coming weeks. You won’t regret it. Academy members are going to fall in love with it and you will too. Mark my words…

Be sure to check out Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, beginning its theatrical run this weekend!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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