Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
The billboards in the title say this:
RAPED WHILE DYING
AND STILL NO ARRESTS?
HOW COME, CHIEF WILLOUGHBY?
Frances McDormand (famous for Fargo and pretty much nothing else) is the mother of a murdered daughter and uses her life savings to rent the billboards to light a fire under the cops. The DNA from the rape kit matches no known felon, there were no witnesses, and no suspects. It happens. But the angry mother must blame someone. She could blame herself as she is the one who brought a victim into the world.
Woody Harrelson is Chief Willoughby. A character who immediately is sympathetic once you realize he did everything he could to solve the crime. Oh he also has terminal cancer. The shitier cop is played by Sam Rockwell and he really is the star of the movie, as he is the only character who changes. But even though he goes from criminal assault to actually trying to do his job, I never felt any sympathy for him. Primarily because this film is just so badly written. I wouldn’t think that even a first year film student could write something so illogical and nonsensical.
McDormand’s character lights the police hq on fire, is not arrested or charged with any crime despite the fact that Rockwell is seriously burned. This director really doesn’t understand how the law works. Rockwell is sitting in the police station (but with earphones on!) yet he doesn’t notice the raging inferno around him. Maybe the fact that the room he is in is getting brighter and brighter would tip him off? The Rockwell cop character also beats an innocent man nearly to death and throws him out of a window in broad daylight right in front of his new captain and about 20 witnesses. He loses his job but is not arrested or charged with any crime. Is Ebbing, Missouri a town that’s in a state of anarchy or what?
This movie sucked.
2 stars outta 5
Best actress Frances McDormand
Best actor in a supporting role Woody Harrelson
Best actor in a supporting role Sam Rockwell
This is another one of those identity politics movies that gets nominated for awards even though it’s nothing more than an after school special. But it’s got gay dudes, token minorities, fat acceptance, 9/11 references, girl power… it’s got all of that shit. It’s supposedly a coming of age story but the main character played by Saoirse Ronan learns nothing by the end and simply returns to being the exact same person she was before the movie started. It’s the story of a really lame rebellion phase. It’s also supposed to be a comedy but I didn’t laugh once. It’s boring, it’s set in 2002 for no reason, and nothing happens.
This movie super sucked.
So naturally it is nominated for …
Best director Greta Gerwig
Best actress Saoirse Ronan
Best supporting actress Laurie Metcalf
Finally a watchable movie. It does help that I am a fan of ladies figure skating. I watched the entire 4 hour version of the free skate this Olympics, but not on NBC of course. They decided to show boring bobsledding and skiing instead. How many times can you watch someone slide down a hill before you get bored to death? But I digress. The figure skating in this movie is a special effect of course as Margot Robbie is no Olympic figure skater. She is also wildly miscast and looks nothing like Tanya Harding. The fact that Harding is frumpy white trash is a big part of her character arc so casting a stick-thin Australian fox seems misguided. Maybe she lobbied for the part… who knows, but it doesn’t work.
The skating scenes are still very well done as the camera gets the viewer right on the ice with her. The only problems come up when Robbie’s face has to be digitally placed on top of the face of the double. Sometimes it works, but most of the time it just looks uncanny. The way to go for this movie would have been to cast a real ice skater and just cast better known actors around her in supporting roles. The movie also strangely views Harding as a victim, as if she had no idea that her husband was going to have her rival Nancy Kerrigan attacked. But still this biopic was better than most of the other crap getting nominated for awards this year.
Best actress Margot Robbie
Best supporting actress Allison Janney
While perhaps a bit too long, this is heads above that other newspaper movie Spotlight that undeservedly won Best Picture in 2016. It would be quite a feat if this movie was bad considering the talent involved. Spielberg and Hanks shine as usual with beautiful lighting courtesy of Janusz Kaminski. The plot of course covers the famous Pentagon Papers which showed that the government knew the US was losing in Vietnam but kept sending conscripted teenagers to die anyways. The Washington Post thought that publishing the classified papers could potentially ruin the paper but in the end it resulted in a sales boom. Honestly my favorite part about it was just seeing how news was printed and consumed in ancient times.
Best actress Meryl Streep