Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri: Your Best Picture of 2017
In a relatively weak year of cinema, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri shines and is my choice for the Oscar of best picture.
Winner of the Golden Globes best drama and the critics choice, my pick is not one that should be seen as controversial. I can only see two films that could prove me wrong: The Shape of Water by acclaimed director Guillermo Del Toro and Phantom Thread by one of my favorite directors Paul Thomas Anderson. While Three Billboards doesn’t feature the costume and set design of The Shape of Water and definitely does not include a performance by the greatest actor of our generation, Daniel Day-Lewis in Phantom Thread, Three Billboards shines in its characters and its overall story. Director of photography, Ben Davis (Doctor Strange and Layer Cake), lays the framework for this film as his melancholic visuals successfully grasp the foreboding tone of this masterpiece. Although the screenwriting takes precedent in this film, Martin McDonagh’s directing complements the script, iced with stellar performances by Frances McDormand and Golden Globe winner for best supporting actor, Sam Rockwell.
As I continue to watch the Oscars over the years, it’s becoming a bit clear that the Oscars hold a bias towards story and dialogue over cinematic value. Although the cinematic talent is considered, a movie which is missing a plot would fare worse than one that has a plot but less cinematic value. Although I do not completely approve of this rationale, it could significantly benefit Three Billboards. Not to take away from its directing, set design, cinematography and the works, but it’s greatest quality is found in its story. The film’s branch-like story structure highlights each characters own goals and trials, trials that were frequently spawned by past experiences and influences. In some movies, characters are just bad to be bad. Three Billboards excels in its ability to create fallen idols, characters who aren’t inherently bad or, in some cases, inherently good, but their past actions drove them to become what they are. Whether it be guilt for a loved one’s death, destructive parental influences, or the terror of death and decay, each character comes off the screen as we are able to formulate our own opinions, to sympathize with whom we want.
Some films’ life expectancy rely on the academy, you can just feel that Oscar vibe as they contort and constrict the creative minds at play, and, when they lose, they fade to the back of our minds. Three Billboards won’t suffer the same fate. Three Billboards doesn’t regulate itself to the Oscars criteria, reiterating elements of indie films with a combination of conventional techniques. Three Billboards is its own film, independent of any critical claim, despite receiving an ample amount of it. Three Billboards is my film, a film that transcends the Oscar hopefuls and the cash grabs, submitting a message of understanding and forgiveness. Three Billboards is your best picture.