Three billboards outside ebbing Missouri
—Ashton Dudley ‘20
The 2017 drama Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri follows the story of Mildred Hayes, the mother of a murder and rape victim in a small town in the American south. The film depicts Mildred Hayes’ attempt to seek revenge for the sheriff's inability to solve her daughter’s case. As a call to action, Hayes buys three billboards outside of her small town on which she writes "RAPED WHILE DYING", "STILL NO ARRESTS?", and "HOW COME, CHIEF WILLOUGHBY?". This constant push and pull between Mildred and the Ebbing Police Department is the main conflict of the film and inspires noteworthy performances from Frances Mcnormand (Mildred Hayes), Woody Harrelson (Chief Willoughby), and Sam Rockwell (Officer Jason Dixon). While its story is extremely engaging and well written, by far the most impressive aspect of the film is Frances Mcdormand's performance as Mildred Hayes for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. She perfectly captures the raw emotion of a grieving mother without overdoing it or bordering on cheesy. Jason Dixon won the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his work as Officer Jason Dixon. Officer Dixon is the archetypal racist, homophobic southern police officer and while he is initially depicted as thoroughly unlikeable, your opinion of his character will likely change multiple times while watching the film. My only complaint regarding this movie is the slow pace of its first half, but the second half completely counteracts this by providing plenty of plot twists and action packed scenes. The film definitely deserves its R rating and is not for the faint of heart as it never shies away from its gruesome subject matter. Even its visual aesthetic is dark and melodramatic, but it manages to avoid being overly dreary as its severity is often offset by the comedic realness of its characters. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri may be my favorite film from this year’s award season, and it definitely deserves more media attention than it has received.