Starring: Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Lucas Hedges, Peter Dinklage, John Hawkes, Caleb Landry Jones, Kerry Condon, Abbie Cornish, Zeljko Ivanek, Brenden SSexton III
Directed By: Martin McDonagh
Plot: After seven months with no arrests in the case of her daughters rape and murder, Mildred Hayes (McDormand) rents three billboards on a road just outside of her town that challenges the local Chief of Police for not making any arrests. These billboards divide the town, but Mildred is determined to not back down.
What Works: I tried not to spoil anything in the description because this film is excellent at throwing you punches you didn’t see coming. I love how this film has standard scenes where you think it’ll go one way, and then McDonagh just blindsides you instead. It’s fantastic. I honestly couldn’t have guessed the end of the film at the beginning of the film in a million years. There’s so much that happens during the runtime, without it ever being a “long” movie. Every scene counts. Every scene matters. Every actor is firing on all cylinders, adding another level of richness to this film through their performances. This really is a career best for Frances McDormand. It’s definitely a nod to her Fargo character, but Mildred really is her own beast. She’s such a wildly original protagonist. You can love and hate her at the same time. Sam Rockwell is also really incredible here. I’m really hoping he finally gets his Oscar nomination, because he is so long overdue. Anytime someone asks me who I think is most overdue for a nomination, I always say Sam Rockwell, because he’s had so many amaznig performances that just went overlooked. The Green Mile, Moon, Conviction, The way Way Back, and many others. It’s time, and the best part about this role is that it doesn’t feel like a charity case. He really earns it, and is one of the top 5 supporting actor performances this year. Woody Harrelson is also really great, even if this role does lean in a bit on his already established persona. It’s a little of Woody being Woody, but there are still some really great moments in that. This is easily one of the best films of the year, and I think it’ll wind up in my top 10 for sure. See this immediately.
What Doesn’t Work: Some people might be divided about the ending. For me, I didn’t mind it, but it’s worth pointing out that I acknowledge that not everyone will love the ending to this film.
Final Word: A sure-fire Oscar nominee, destined to be one of the major players this year. At least four nominations, maybe as much as 7. If you want to stay ahead of your Oscar pool, this should be at the top of your list.
Final Grade: A