Movie Views: Oscar Run Stops at THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI

Movie Views: Oscar Run Stops at THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI

This year’s Oscar Run continued with stop 2 and Martin McDonough’s THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI a sharply-scripted microcosm of a town’s humanity following a local tragedy and the deepest and darkest places sorrow can take a mourning mother. The film, which checks off four noms from the core six categories of Oscar nominees I set out to see (in this case, Best Picture, Best Actress and two Best Supporting Actor nods), garnered seven nominations overall. Frances McDormand as Mildred Hayes gives another stellar performance and has garnered much of the attention from critics and other award contests as well as a nomination for best performance by an actress in a lead role.

 

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Like her fellow Oscar nominee Sam Rockwell up for Supporting Actor, McDormand steals every scene she enters and shakes audiences with a stern, full-throttle steamroller of a portrayal. Both Rockwell and McDormand are hard to miss in often loud, in-your-face scenes but it is Woody Harrelson in a quiet yet strong role as a local sheriff faced with more than just an unsolved mystery in his jurisdiction who I found more intriguing. Maybe it’s because I have always felt Harrelson is an underrated actor, in the likes of a Paul Newman, who makes the job look so easy that his performances are often overlooked. This time around, the Academy noticed.

 

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Since seeing the film, I’ve read about much controversy over the raw depiction of the racist cop Rockwell portrays and criticism about the filmmaker’s choices in depicting the acceptance of bigotry in this small town and argument that black actors are featured purely to set up the moral redemption of racist white characters. I don’t think that is a fair criticism. I was surprised at the feedback I learned about only after watching the film.  While it is true that there are very few if any characters with sparkling morals or redeeming qualities (and some are downright horrible), I don’t blame director/screenwriter Martin McDonagh for choosing to show these people in all their flaws and imperfections. Even if some characters may make some progress toward becoming less barbaric, it does not change all that has come before it. Things are not left wrapped up with a tidy bow. Far from it.

 

I found myself caught up in the film’s events. The performances are gripping. The dialogue gritty, and I wasn’t always on the side of the protagonist at times, but I appreciated this raw, frank look at the anguish a mother  feels over the loss of her daughter, a loss she takes responsibility for, and how she channels this pain into action. Thanks for reading. ~ Chris K.

 

On a scale of 0-100, I give THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI a 90.

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