‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is best movie of the year. The best of the year’s best is still to come, but by year’s end this will very likely still be the best.
Francis McDormand is Mildred. Her daughter was murdered and months later, the case is at a dead end. She doesn’t think the local police chief and his minions — done wonderfully by Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell and Zeiljko Ivanek — are doing enough to find her killer.
She buys posts on three dilapidated billboards asking why the police aren’t doing their job. The plot is that simple. Mildred’s billboard decision leads to very human and somewhat intense actions by all involved. They range from comic to tragic. What’s most fun is both the comic and the tragic are emphasized.
Even the most shallow characters in writer/director Martin McDonagh’s (In Bruges) film are deep, complex people. It’s how the characters wade through the clever twists of his story that also make it the year’s best.
Will someone please — finally — give Sam Rockwell an Oscar, Golden Globe and any number of other awards. That was my first comment when quizzed by the studio’s representative about the movie. His performance blew me away.
Rockwell is in the same character actor club as Ed Harris, J.K. Simmons, John Goodman, Billy Bob Thornton, Viola Davis, Patricia Clarkson, William H. Macy and others too numerous to name them all. They are actors so skilled they are able to save even the most boring and pointless of movies.
Rockwell’s Dixon is a dangerous Barney Fife. He’s not the brightest light bulb in the chandelier, and Dixon’s behavior causes enormous problems for just about everyone he encounters. At the same time, Rockwell’s very serious character is also very, very funny.
My second comment to the studio rep: Woody Harrelson’s Chief Willoughby will be in competition with Rockwell in the best supporting actor category. The calm-center-of-the-storm good-ol-boy is Harrelson’s specialty. That character has never been more special than it is here.
The third comment to the studio representative was about Francis McDormand. She ought to win awards every time she takes a role. Mildred is the center of the film and, grim-faced and determined, fearlessly moves forward through impossible odds and overwhelming obstacles from powerful people.
Along with awards for best picture, McDonagh should get awards for directing and for the brilliant screenplay. The pacing and how the story is told and its twists and turns are flawless. Plus — and maybe best of all — McDonagh ends the film the only possible way it can end.
The best adjective to describe Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is perfect.
Movie name: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Director: Martin McDonagh
Stars: Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Abbie Cornish, Peter Dinklage, John Hawkes, Lucas Hedges, Caleb Landry Jones, Samara Weaving, Zeiljko Ivanek
Mr. Movie rating: 5 stars
Rated R for mature themes, language and some violence. It’s playing at the Fairchild Cinemas Queensgate 12 and at AMC Kennewick 12.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen.
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it’s your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don’t bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.