Thomas’s review published on Letterboxd:
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” is my personal movie of the year 2017 and one of my favorite movies of the decade. I love Martin McDonagh´s style, which can already be seen in his earlier films “In Bruges” and “Seven Psychopaths”, and this movie is his masterpiece so far, in my opinion.
Many aspects of “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” are brilliant, for example the directing, cinematography, and music, but what stand out the most are the writing (Martin McDonagh was snubbed at the Oscars) and the acting (here the Academy was right for once).
The mix of really dark drama and dark humor is perfect and the whole movie is an emotional rollercoaster, since truly hilarious scenes are followed by emotional gut punches and the other way around. The way the movie handles its heavy themes is remarkable and thought-provoking, the dialogs and lines are incredibly well written and highly quotable, and the plot is engaging and unpredictable.
But the most memorable aspect of “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” are the characters, first and foremost the three protagonists Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand), Bill Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) and Jason Dixon (Sam Rockwell). All three are complex, layered, three-dimensional characters, who have engaging and well-written character arcs. They are the main reason, why this movie has such a lasting impact on me. They just feel real. And the acting is absolutely fantastic. Woody Harrelson radiates kindness, good-natured humor and wisdom as police chief Willoughby, and Frances McDormand is brilliant as the desperate, determined, badass, and slightly mad Mildred. But there is no doubt in my mind that the standout of the film is Sam Rockwell as Officer Jason Dixon, one of the most interesting characters I have ever seen in my life. He is reprehensible, horrible, and terrifying, as well as pathetic and pitiful, but as the movie continues he also shows positive traits and at the end you actually root for him (without excusing his actions). Dixon has a beautiful character arc and Sam Rockwell delivers one of the best performances of the century and I stand by that statement. How he portrays this character, his facial expressions, gestures and the way he walks, acts, and talks is just pure class.
While I love this movie very much, I know that many people don´t like it as much as I do. For some it is too dark, others find the humor inappropriate, some don´t like the ending and others find many things unrealistic. Ok, the last point is certainly true, since the world that McDonagh creates in this film has its own rules. Both Mildred and Dixon do things that would definitely have consequences in the real world that they don´t have in this movie. You just have to accept that. It is part of his style.
Anyway, I was questioning, if I really should give this movie 5 stars, but I have seen it for the first time over a year ago and I still regularly think about the characters, the funniest lines (Mildred: There will be no more "cunts" in this house. You got that, mister? Robbie: What? Are you moving out?), and my favorite scenes (the window scene with the tracking shot and “His Masters Voice” by Monsters of Folk playing is peak cinema). “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” is just exactly the kind of movie I love. It is dark, twisted, funny, thought-provoking, emotional, entertaining, well crafted, and character-driven. I will watch everything Martin McDonagh ever directs.