Awards Won: Best Actress (Frances McDormand), Best Supporting Actor (Sam Rockwell)

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a divisive film to say the least. Though it opened to critical acclaim, there’s been increasing criticism towards some of the questionable aspects of the film. Sadly, everyone in it is at the top of their game: Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, and Woody Harrelson give some of their best performances, and McDormand and Rockwell received well-deserved Oscars. The problem, though, is that the movie they’re all in is terrible. Ostensibly about a mother who is desperate for police to find the person who raped and murdered her daughter (she erects the titular billboards to get their attention), the movie is shockingly moralistic, arguing that anger only begets more anger, even though the viewer almost definitely comes to identify with main character Mildred’s quite righteous anger. 

The movie also goes surprisingly easy on Sam Rockwell’s character, a terrible cop with a history of racial violence. Three Billboards is a confused movie that constantly seems to be at odds with itself thematically. The characters are contradictions themselves, at least when they’re written beyond caricature, unlike Peter Dinklage’s character, who isn’t defined beyond his status as a little person, or Mildred’s ex-husband’s girlfriend, who isn’t defined beyond “dumb and young.” It says a lot about the powerful lead performances that they seem to have distracted critics from the movie’s large faults.