Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017) Review

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

Directed & Written by Martin McDonagh

Starring: Frances McDormand, Caleb Landry Jones, Kerry Condon, Sam Rockwell, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Woody Harrelson, Abbie Cornish, Lucas Hedges, Željko Ivanek, Peter Dinklage, John Hawkes, Samara Weaving, Clarke Peters

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows a mother who, when the police in her town fail to find a suspect in her daughter’s murder, rents three billboards to call public attention to the unsolved crime, polarizing the community.

My Opinion:

I watched this the other day as part of a “double feature” with Coco (which I reviewed HERE). I love Pixar and was expecting to like Coco far more but I preferred Three Billboards. It’s a great film! I don’t know why but maybe it’s because my expectations were low whereas they were very high for Coco.

It’s that time of year in the UK when we get the “Oscar-worthy” stuff like this. Because what better way to make the shittiest month of the year even MORE depressing than by releasing all the dark & dreary Oscar dramas?! Manchester By The Sea? Hell yeah! Just what I want to watch in f*^king January! But I kind of loved Three Billboards. It’s another “Oscar drama” but it’s so well-written and wonderfully acted and the dark humor throughout it really made it a much more rewarding watch (for me, at least) than the usual heavy Oscar dramas. Okay, I know the Oscar nominations aren’t out yet but this will most likely be one of them and, at the moment, I can say I’d be happy to see it win. We’ll see what it’s up against – most of the films still aren’t out here yet.

Where do I begin? With the acting? I loved everyone in this. I’m a bit weird in that I don’t care too much about the acting in a film, as long as it isn’t terrible and as long as it’s not someone I can’t stand the sight of (like Gwyneth Paltrow or something). But, man – everyone did a brilliant job in this. Our main three, Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson & Sam Rockwell, were insanely good. Like, I want to hug them and thank them for being in this movie. Seriously. And I hate a lot of actors! When did Woody Harrelson get so great??? I loved him in Edge Of Seventeen as well. He’s going to end up a favorite actor of mine at this rate. I wouldn’t have expected that ten years ago. Everyone else as well, though, even down to the small parts – all were great. Perfect casting. I’d love to see the acting win plenty of Oscars for this film.

I’m not sure why my expectations were so low for this film. I really enjoyed Martin McDonagh’s In Bruges. I also thought Seven Psychopaths, though flawed, was pretty good overall. Three Billboards is now easily my favorite (yes, even over In Bruges). And no Colin Farrell in this! Yay! I’d recommend this to anyone who was a fan of McDonagh’s previous two films as it has the same sort of style. However, this is much darker material (a teenage girl is murdered) and the emotions feel more genuine than in his previous films. The movie gets the right balance between drama & humor and it wasn’t a “heavy” watch in the way I was expecting. I’m actually not a fan of things like Fargo (I never finished it) and preferred the way that these characters felt more real to me. I suppose it’s a combination of the acting and the writing, which has come together perfectly in Three Billboards whereas McDonagh’s other two films didn’t work quite as well overall. I’m now really looking forward to seeing more of his films in the future. And as he likes to re-use actors, I hope he sticks with McDormand, Harrelson & Rockwell.

My Rating: 8/10

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Fargo (1996) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Cara of Silver Screen Serenade. Thanks for being a part of this project, Cara! (and Happy Blogiversary). 🙂 Now let’s see what she has to say about Fargo, IMDB rank 127 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

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I have a confession to make: I’m not a huge fan of the Coen brothers. I’ll pause to let the many, horrified gasps die down…

Everybody good? Because yep. I said it.

Admittedly, I haven’t seen all of their allegedly best stuff (i.e. The Big Lebowski, No Country for Old Men, Inside Llewyn Davis, etc.), but what I have seen has gotten a mostly “meh” reaction out of me—the one exception being O Brother, Where Art Thou?, which I find quite wonderful. But I wanted to watch Fargo because I was very curious about the FX series based on the film (and starring Martin Freeman, whom I adore). So when Miss Mutant’s list popped up and Fargo was a choice, I snatched it up. Was it a worthy choice? Let’s talk about that, shall we?

Fargo (1996)

Directed by Joel Coen

Starring:

Frances McDormand
William H. Macy
Steve Buscemi
Harve Presnell
Peter Stormare

Music by Carter Burwell

Running time: 98 minutes

Plot synopsis: (via IMDb)

Jerry Lundegaard’s inept crime falls apart due to his and his henchmen’s bungling and the persistent police work of the quite pregnant Marge Gunderson.

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What I liked:

  • The accents. They. Crack. Me. Up. I don’t know what it is about Northern Midwest American accents, but I find them completely hilarious. I think it stems from my longtime love of the movie Drop Dead Gorgeous. Have you guys seen that? It’s wonderful. Or maybe only I think it’s wonderful. Whatever. Point is, the accents in Fargo are just as funny.
  • The actors. William H. Macy as bumbling, seemingly nice guy Jerry Lundegaard, Steve Buscemi as lusty, overly talkative henchman Carl Showalter, and Frances McDormand as clever, very pregnant police officer Marge Gunderson. It’s a bizarre cast of quirky characters, and they’re all fantastic.
  • Not only are many of the individual characters great, but the relationships are great, too. Marge and her husband, Norm (John Carroll Lynch), have the most adorable marriage ever. Tough Marge goes to work to keep the town safe while easy-going Norm enters painting competitions. They have meals together—big meals since pregnant Marge is constantly hungry. They fall asleep watching TV. Then there’s Carl and his strong, silent partner, Gaear. Definitely not as cohesive a relationship (as anyone who has seen the end of this film knows), but they’re a pretty funny odd couple. There are a lot of opposites like these in the film, and it works well.
  • The setting. There are more snow-covered scenes than you could possibly think to count, and it gives the film a very unique vibe. This is a place dominated by winter for a good portion of the year, and it shows.
  • The fact that some of these things actually happened. Fargo makes a big show of proclaiming itself a “true story” during the opening scene, which is embellishing—the plot and the characters are completely imagined. However, some of the events are taken from real-life, reminding us what a bizarre world we live in…
  • The wood chipper scene. Gruesome and severely twisted, but…lol.

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What I didn’t like:

  • Aside from Marge, it seems like no one in this town has more than a brain cell apiece. I realize this is supposed to be for comedic effects—and there are several moments when it’s very funny—but c’mon…no one else is even remotely intelligent? It seems like there ought to be at least a couple more characters in there who aren’t brain-dead.
  • A person gets shot in the head, and it’s very “eww.”
  • There’s a very random, very bizarre scene involving a hotel room hook-up. It’s supposed to be funny, and I guess it kind of is, but part of me couldn’t help thinking, “Wait, what purpose does this scene have?” And dovetailing off of that…
  • At one point, Marge meets up with an old high school buddy, and things get downright awkward. Again, the scene is so random and unnecessary that I was a little confused about why it made it into the film in the first place. Stuff like this happens so often in Coen films. In fact, can we just all agree to start calling throw-in scenes like this a “Coen?”
  • The ending. Marge gives a great speech toward the end that I fully expected to be followed by the closing credits, but the film goes on a bit longer, making you think maybe it’s leading to something more…and then it ends. It’s a bit of a letdown. Coen films do that a lot, too, don’t they? Hmm. At this rate, we’re going to have to start calling a lot of things a “Coen.”

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Summary:

Despite my qualms, I did enjoy this film. It’s a quirky, funny crime film that is bursting with personality, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that the performances are superb. Plus, the “true events” aspect of this film adds an interesting layer—even if the truth is super stretched. I still don’t like this one better than O Brother, Where Art Thou?, and I think I actually might prefer FX’s Fargo series to this, but I’d still say this film is worth a watch.

My Rating: 8/10 (Probably an A- or so on my rating system)

Thanks for letting me partake, Mutant! You’re the coolest!

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