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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri


Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri



A woman initiates a chain of events that effects the lives of few people in a small mid west town.

This is it. This is the perfect package that many film going , blockbuster loving crowd call a Oscar bait movie. It doesn't get better than this , well may be kings speech but this comes close. So what's up with all the hatred that these kind of movies invoke as opposed to something like mad max fury road or get out ? There are three layers of movies based on their reception. You have the out and out blockbusters like the dark knight or titanic or avatar. Those will be remembered for decades and centuries by audience. Then you have the "awards" movie aka prestige movies. The way these kind of movies get made is by studios taking considerable risk financially. There is lot of uncertainty going into these movies. If the risk pays off then the rewards are high. The problem is there are genuinely some movies like that. Their quality alone will force studios to spend millions in campaign to get awards attention and for the most part they do get the attention. But some movies will sneak into this prestige filmmaking category with ulterior motivations. They include a vanity crowd pleasing project by a movie star to increase his star power. So the movie kind of plays to audience but in the end it is not a great movie. Its just a well made decent movie that can trick layman into thinking that the movie is great. These are the worst kind of movies and most of the times they are produced by major studios in Hollywood. These are not some independent studios trying to make movies. The main reason these movies exist is because studios are not taking risk in the first place with movies like these. They know that the star power or the story of the movie will make them profit. So all they do is, wait for the layman crowd to praise the movie and then use that as fuel to propel the movie into getting some awards attention. And add to that the invisible foot soldiers of the studio that are mixed with unbiased interviewers to create this illusion that the movie is much better than it actually is. So, if you can factor in how those kind of movies get into Oscar race then trust me, you will not hate the so called Oscar bait movies so much. Same with Logan. It was a very good movie. But the praise it earned is not just during the course of one movie. Its a praise that has been built up for lot of years of movies with that character. So there is a little bit of cheating going on there. But as Ethan Hawke so wisely put it - "big business wants you to think that these movies are great because they want as much money and acclaim as they can get". This line is so very true. The same big business he refers to in that line is also the same one that wants a movie like argo to win best picture. I mean who cares about argo any longer ? Django Unchained is much much more memorable than argo.

As I write this review there is a movie which fits the bill of a fake prestige movie being propped up by major studio. That would be, A star is born. Toronto Film Festival just wrapping up in the news and this movie is being hyped up as not just a crowd pleaser but an "awards contender". Thats where my problem is. Because this movie is basically Bradley Cooper trying to do his best impression of a DiCaprio movie. But Bradley Cooper is not talented to get auteur legends to direct him , so he took a break to make this movie. I mean, come on its a very nice narrative isn't it ? actor took 3 years of his career in his prime to learn to sing and direct and made this movie that is not just a great movie but a masterpiece and will be remembered for ages. Thats a nice narrative to get to oscars. But the problem is most of the times the movie will not be great. It will just be a crowd pleasing okay movie but the big business wants you to think its better than it actually is. Share holders want that. They want a movie to make money and be considered an instant classic. But it's not. If you go through this ringer and still think you are more likely to be angry at a movie like three billboards then you are beyond help.

Three billboards has some very good elements in it. Mainly, its not a slow burn. Its forward momentum is achieved through conflict. The way some characters depart the story is very shocking yet kinda interesting to see a filmmaking being so dynamic in his directorial decisions. I don't want to talk about race element in the movie because its been covered enough. But the environment and setting of this story is very realistic in the way the story takes place. Towns like these can have stories like these. Culture of the town is very interesting. Most of these mid western towns and counties have their own justice system which is very racially biased. Unless a heinous crime is commited and it becomes national news they keep it with in the community. Thats inter weaved through the storyline. Cops are angry for reasons other than law enforcement. Their anger stems from other motivations and causes. Livelihood of these people is depicted subtly. The protagonists is on the edge of being a caricature. But she is not really acting. The recognition the lead actress aka Fraces Mcdormand got has much more to do with circumstances surrounding her character than her performance itself. But she will take it. So all in all , this movie is surprisingly fast paced and twisty for a so-called Oscar bait movie. But trust me, there are other far more vile movies to be pissed off than these movies. Your targets should be Argo , A star is born(2018) and J. Edgar. These movies have far more nefarious motivations than a very well made movie that luckily caught fire and that is thrust into spotlight during awards season like 3 billboards.