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« FYC: The Furniture's 2017 Oscar Ballot | Main | Golden Globe Winners. What does it mean for Oscar? »
Monday
Jan082018

Beauty vs Beast: Ebbing Through Awards Season

Jason from MNPP here with this week's post-Globes edition of "Beauty vs Beast." And let's just get this out of the way right up front: Frances McDormand is, in the wise parlance of Groundhog Day, if not The God, A God. Every second she's on screen at any awards show ever is a gift - for the lovers, the memers, and me. I'm one of the ones who kind of can't with Three Billboards (although I fall more in the middle than most) and I don't even think Franny's doing anything near her best work in it, but trot her out in a stately pilgrim sack and have her scowl at the camera-man and my heart sings. I'll just pretend they're still giving her awards for Olive Kitteredge (while pouring one out for Sally Hawkins).

All of that is to say that if we're going to do Three Billboards for this series we can't possibly use Fran's character of Mildred because any and every one is gum on that woman's shoe. But since the film took over the night let's tackle it anyway, and with a real good fight if you ask me - Woody Harrelson gives in my opinion the film's best performance as the cancer-stricken Chief Willoughby. Sam Rockwell meanwhile is steam-rolling the awards nominations as dancing racist Dixon, giving a performance I truly cannot stand. (Oh am I biased in my introduction here? Whoops.) As problematic as the writing of Dixon is I don't think Rockwell helps it at all, leaning into his worst hammy instincts. But perhaps that is just me! What about y'all?

PREVIOUSLY Our last contest was way back before the holiday break, where we asked you to choose between Bob Clark Holiday Classics, and the "Leg Lamp" of A Christmas Story kicked the "Crystal Unicorn" of Black Christmas' butt, but in the comments kermit_the_frog singled out the latter's owner for some much-deserved love:

"Brian De Palma's "Sisters" and "Black Christmas" in consecutive years cemented Margot Kidder's place in my heart. One of the most underrated actresses of the 70s."

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Reader Comments (21)

"The lovers, the memers and me"!!! Amazing, will absolutely steal, can't believe I didn't think of it myself.

January 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

I saw 3 billboards and as i suspected it was Frances doing Frances and as much as I like her no bull attitude the role is too similar to OKitteridge,Fargo,Friends with Money,North Country and Almost Famous,wise cracking smart mouthed ballsy lady.

January 8, 2018 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

Harrelson far and away gives the film's best, most nuanced performance. McDormand has some good speeches but there is no character arc whatsoever. I really hope she does not win the Oscar. Also, did anyone else find the film misogynistic? All of the other female characters are either utter ninnies (the receptionist, Hawke's young wife) or grossly underdeveloped (Mildred's jailed friend). I thought Rockwell had his moments but found the "racist cop with a hidden heart of gold" arc fairly offensive.

January 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMichael R

I just loathe this film. I am on no one’s team in this film. (Not even Mildred’s, who gleefully uses the N word despite pretending to be some sort of BLM activist to avenge the daughter she said she wished would get raped).

Screw this movie. Not voting!!

January 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRoger

Roger-

Agree! This movie was so needlessly violent and dark with no redeeming qualities. I didn't buy Dixon's sudden redemption AT ALL.

January 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDAVID

I thought Rockwell gave the best performance in the film. I'm happy he's getting the recognition he deserves.

January 8, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterbrandz

Ohhhh this is so hard. So hard. Because they're both kinda despicable and epitome of the many many problems of this movie.

The cop who doesn't care about racism and whose humanity we can only be reminded of by his deathly disease? Or the racist cop who's brutally racist cause boo, he's angry because some stuff happened to him? Can I just stick to neither?

January 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSteve_Man

WRITE IN VOTE: Clarke Peters.

January 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterHustler

Write in vote : Lucas Hedges for Lady Bird. I love that performance so much!

January 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMichael R

I vote for Willoughby who is a better person as he's trying to do good although I do think Dixon is someone that is just misguided who got humble and realize what needed to be done.

January 8, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

Willoughby. The scene with Woody questioning Frances where he suddenly becomes violently ill was hands down the best in the movie for me. Glad WH was there to geound it and not play it for yuks.

January 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJames from Ames

I, too, would like to cast a write-in vote for Clarke Peters.

But if it's between these two, I think Woody gave the more nuanced performance. (And I count myself a fan of Rockwell.)

January 8, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterlylee

Michael R - I’d also like to write-in vote for Lucas Hedges for Lady Bird!

His role in Three Billboards is basically just getting Fruit Loops in his hair and an excuse to use the C word.

January 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRoger

You all don't find the casting of Clarke Peters problematic? His race somewhat functions as a joke in the film - when he shows up, the audience is supposed to react with an "uh oh" and a giggle, because surely this black man will cause some funny trouble for Dixon. It would have been more interesting to cast a non-corrupt white officer in that role.

I voted for Woody, because I thought he gave a nice restrained performance in a film with some over-the-top acting, and I, too, like the scene in which he coughs the blood in Frances's face.

January 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

apart from the la-di-dah treatment of race in "Three Billboards..." I find it hard to fathom that the town, as backwards as it is, would just let Dixon walk around freely after everyone witnessed him throwing a guy out the second floor window. Shouldn't he have been arrested and charged with assault? Geez. Is that town really so horrible that they let police do whatever they feel like in broad daylight?

January 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRaul

Raul - This is the exact moment where I question how ANYONE could go on thinking it is an even remotely decent movie. How can anyone go on after that???

That’s the moment when my partner finally excused himself from the theatre. Before that, I had whispered that he could leave and I unfortunately had to stay because of its Oscar consideration. That was his breaking point.

But really. Every element of the film falls apart. Mildred falls apart REALLY fast.

January 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRoger

Wanna know why Streisand was so elated to announce the awards to Billboards? Bc the film's FORCED last act crumbles into a ridiculous premise: *we cobble together a suspect* after taking a stand on familiar abuse in small town, just like her own PRINCES OF TIDES. And just like it, it's just as tone deaf and extravagant as it goes further along. Babs made a crappy romance out of that, McDonagh hints at a friendship between two people who moments before were picking their eyeballs off, Three Stooges-style. And Lowestein, here, would be the new sheriff (of course, he's black!) the man who brings a voice of reason to all the messed-up and perfunctory violence.

I don't ask for reality or even naturalism in a film; but it has to have "truth" or "honesty". Two words clearly absent in Billboard's lexicon.

If the Academy is to reward this poor man's Coen-meets Tarantino rip off, I bet it will be viewed in the not so distant future as it really is: Midwestern's Crash. So, just don't.

January 8, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterchofer

Oh, and I'm in neither of those two teams. Bur Sam Rockwell (a great actor) might had the most idiotic, obnoxious role this year. His listening ABBA's Chiquitita obliviosly while McDormand fire bombing the Police Station behind him must be the most on the nose, NOT FUNNY, wrongly set up scene I've witness from a major contender in decades.

I truly believe this film is crappola!

January 8, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterchofer

Make mine a third write in vote for Clarke Peters.

January 8, 2018 | Unregistered Commenteradri

I think y'all have misunderstood the f*** out of this movie.

Sam Rockwell was incredible in this role. Having grown up in a mostly all-white, small town in the South when I was a kid (and got the eff out of there as soon as I could), there's so much about this film that rings true. Being an Irish/Brit, it really is quite stunning how McDonagh got so much of this right. Rockwell's character is that super racist, super dumb white guy from high school with very limited education whose only hope of a real, good-paying job with benefits and a pension is in the police force, and he's indicative of a lot of those guys who get in there with no redeeming qualities and lead their careers with very little retribution for their horrible actions.

This is not the first time McDonagh has been critical of the police force and general restorative justice (especially if you've seen his theatre work, particularly The Pillowman, which is undoubtedly one of the most disturbing things you'll ever see). I think those who are uncomfortable with Rockwell's character want some kind of justice for his victims - the kind of justice that is never given, especially not for POC, and especially not for Mildred and the young daughter she lost. I thought the film was a smart, and very very pessimistic commentary on our institutions of power being unequipped and unable to offer justice for our communities due to the systemic prejudice, bigotry, and bureaucratic limits. And it's not like Rockwell's character doesn't experience karma for his actions - he's nearly burned to death and beaten within an inch of his life - and not to mention the sweet justice of him being fired by the new African-American chief of police.

McDonagh definitely needs to work more on developing his female characters, however, because he is dreadful. Outside of Mildred (and, frankly, IMO most of the success of this role is due to McDormand's immense power as an actress and not the writing), every single female character is a dunce or a bimbo. And I wanted to know more about Denise. And poor Abbie Cornish is bogged down with perhaps the most atrocious dialogue of the movie and the most hollow arc (I want another movie about how this Australian woman ended up married to the chief of police in the middle of podunk, nowhere America).

Anyways, I feel the need to defend Three Billboards, since it's inevitably facing the same "frontrunner backlash" that so many Oscar films face. It's not perfect, but I think others are being much more reductive in their views of it.

January 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAaron

The movie is not without merit - specially thanks to the actors - but it's a terrible, over the top screenplay, that tries too hard to capture and mix up the spirits of both "Fargo" and "Crash". It's too over the top, the anger and violence does not feel earned but forced, and I can't believe how overrated is getting. It would be a mediocre Oscar winner, and its 4 Golden Globe victory is quite heartbreaking... McDormand is really good but just making a variation (dramatic) of her "Fargo" character, at core (I recently rechecked Fargo and found same beats here and there). Rockwell is not specially award-worthy (despite he's due for a nom, and I rather dig more his performances in "Moon" or even in "Galaxy Quest", where he was hilarious). Harrelson is perfect, the best performance of the film, in my opinion. The Screenplay is forced, over the top... with an "ex machina" that justifies its final part. Direction isn't specially deserving either, and I can't understand how the film is being in the same awards league than "Get Out" or "The Shape of Water".

January 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJesus Alonso

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