Opinion, Reviews

‘Three Billboards:’ Good, but not best picture

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” was nominated for Best Picture this year and while it didn’t win, it did take home several other awards at the Oscars. Is “Three Billboards” truly as great as people say it is? After all, the Academy has made plenty of mistakes before…

In the small town of Ebbing, Missouri, a tough, blue-collar mother, Mildred Hayes, played by Frances McDormad, is mourning the loss of her daughter who was raped & murdered. Angered that her daughter’s case hasn’t been solved after seven months, she buys three billboards. Using them as advertisement, she publicly calls out Ebbing chief of police Bill Willoughy, played by Woody Harrelson, for not finding the killer. What follows is a chain reaction leading to a series of chaotic events.

First off, Three Billboards contains some great acting. Frances McDormad won an Oscar for her performance. I may not like the Oscars that much, but I’ll admit, I can understand why she won that award. Her character feels realistic. Besides being grief-stricken, I feel like I’ve meet women like Mildred before.

Co-star Sam Rockwell also received an Oscar, his was for Best Supporting actor. He plays another main character, a violent and racist deputy named Jason Dixon. At first, I was annoyed by his character because he felt like every bigot rolled into one, but as the story unfolds Dixon does become humanized.

In addition, Rockwell’s acting is really good. So it’s also understandable that he won his award. Even though some argue he’s delivered better performances before and never won an Oscar for them, like in “Moon” or “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.” This was actually the first time he was even nominated for an Oscar at all.

In addition, the rest of the cast deliver good performances, Woody Harrelson included. Even if their dialogue isn’t the best, they still deliver it well.

There are a few characters that only appear for a brief time. In the beginning, one might think a few people that appear will play big roles in the story later on. In reality, some of them are only in maybe three or four scenes. Instead, the Three Billboards story rather focuses on the three main characters, which does make sense.

This movie is very well shot. The scenery of endless trees covering the horizon is beautiful. The camera movement is good during the more emotional scenes and the more violent scenes, which can overlap. The film crew really earned their pay making this movie.

The dialogue did feel natural, but not all of the time. I’m fine with characters constantly saying the F word, but not if it seems forced. There are better ways to add drama than yelling curse words.

Some of the events that happen in the story almost seemed over-the-top. The events didn’t seem like they could really happen, and if they did happen they would cause much more severe consequences.

It’s worth noting that though Three Billboards may have comedic moments, the majority of the film is a serious drama. Despite having scenes of violence and destruction, Three Billboards does have a few heartfelt moments to help with the balance. Most of these moments appear unexpectedly; then there are a few scenes of genuine tension between the actors – both carry such an emotional impact.

Now how does “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” portray Missouri? To be honest, it kind of portrayed Missouri as just being a part of the South. The Ebbing residents have accents and act like bigots. This may be true in certain regions, but not all. On the upside, the landscape does resemble certain parts of the state. When I think about it, we should still be grateful that this movie takes place in Missouri though. How many movies are set here anyway?

One last thing I would like to mention is the relationships in Three Billboards. My favorite part of this movie was the relationships between the characters. There are several people in this film that hate each other, but in a way, they also respect each other. Seeing these complicated people interact with other complicated people was very interesting to watch. These relationships help lead to some satisfying character development.

Overall, Three Billboards is a really good movie. I was bothered by some aspects, but I did enjoy it. However, I wouldn’t say it’s the greatest film from last year. I won’t overhype this film because this movie was overhyped for me. Before watching it, I almost expected to see a masterpiece. In truth, it wasn’t that good. While I would recommend this movie to people who like dramas, I also recommend watching it with lower expectations.

“Three Billboards” was actually filmed in Sylva, North Carolina, and not in Missouri. It’s shouldn’t be a big surprise though, because most movies are not filmed on location. Now we know what the people of New York City and Los Angeles feel on a regular basis.

To matters more interesting, Dr. Eric Newsom, a professor within the Digital Media Production department, lived in Sylva for a number of years. He hasn’t seen “Three Billboards” yet, but when he does, he will be watching for all of his friends in Sylva, who play extras in the film.

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