Screenwriter-director Martin McDonagh's crime drama Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri has been receiving tons of acclaim during the 2018 awards season.
A Complicated Tale
At the heart of McDonagh's story is its protagonist Mildred Hayes (McDormand). Hayes's life has been turned upside down since the death of her only daughter, Angela Hayes (Kathryn Newton). Hayes blames the Ebbing Police Department for failing their jobs and rents three billboards outside of town.
Hayes pays the town's local advertiser, Red Welby (Caleb Landry Jones), to create three red and black signs that state: "RAPED WHILE DYING," "AND STILL NO ARRESTS?" and "HOW COME, CHIEF WILLOUGHBY?" Hayes's actions greatly disturb the town's civic leaders including Chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson), who is dying of cancer, and Willoughby's right-hand man, Officer Jason Dixon (Sam Rockwell).
The Power Duo
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri's power players are McDormand and Rockwell. McDormand perfectly commands the screen as the formidable Mildred Hayes. Despite nearly the entire town of Ebbing, Missouri against her and her fraying relationship with her son, Robbie Hayes (Lucas Hedges), Hayes continues her mission and turns into one of the dominant female characters that made their debuts this decade. McDormand has earned a Golden Globe, the Screen Actors Guild Award, and the Critics' Choice Award for her superb performance.
Rockwell, who spent most of his career as a character actor in Hollywood, can be considered leading man material through his performance as Officer Jason Dixon. Dixon is a homophobic and a racist and through his actions throughout the film, many moviegoers might consider the character should be nominated for the next American Film Institute's Top 50 Greatest Film Villains of All-Time. Rockwell also received a Golden Globe, the Screen Actors Guild Award, and the Critics' Choice Award.
Three Billboards' Screenplay
On Tuesday, Jan. 23, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri earned seven Oscar nominations. One particular award that rose controversy was the Best Original Screenplay. Several critics and moviegoers thought the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences were surprised by the nomination as it dealt with controversial issues.
Is McDonagh's screenplay perfect? Moviegoers might find several faults such as ow McDonagh dealt with homophobia and racism. Also, McDonagh does not paint an accurate picture of Midwestern U.S. residents. From Hayes's dentist and church leader blackmailing her to take down the controversial billboards to Officer Dixon's racist intendancies, McDonagh paints Ebbing, Missouri residents as hicks, which could be a slap in the face to the Midwest audience.
Despite Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri's controversial screenplay, both McDormand and Rockwell's performances made this film one of the more memorable crime dramas of the decade.