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90th Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actor

Oscars 2018: Best Supporting Actor

Another day, another Academy Awards category to look upon here at Black Ribbon, and whilst not as much as a full-on given, it may seem that joining Frances McDormand up on the Oscar winners stage this year will more than likely be fellow Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri star Sam Rockwell, whose performance as the despicable, hate-filled, racist bigot, Officer Dickson is one of awards touting success, even if the fundamentals of Rockwell’s character is utter torturous from beginning to end, and whilst Woody Harrelson also shines as the moral cornerstone of McDonagh’s movie as Sheriff Bill Willoughby, it seems Rockwell will indeed only continue the gongs that have been heading the Irish directors way. Elsewhere, Willem Dafoe earns his third Oscar nomination for Sean Baker’s The Florida Project whilst Christopher Plummer also receives a nod for his rapidly manufactured role as Jean Paul Getty in Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World after the much publicised erasure of Kevin Spacey in the same role. Concluding the nomination ticket is of course Richard Jenkins for his beautifully emotive role as Giles in Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water after being completely overlooked for his equally impressive role in S. Craig Zahler’s little seen Western Bone Tomahawk back in 2016, and even though the likes of Will Poulter and yes, Bill Skarsgård would have seen recognition in my book for Detroit and the brilliant It respectively, the Best Supporting Actor race is once again yet another strong category to pick a winner from. Here are the main points…

Winner – Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

Personal Favourite – Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

Nomination Snub – Will Poulter (Detroit)

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90th Academy Awards: Best Picture

Oscars 2018: Best Picture

With the 90th Academy Awards set to take place on the 4th of March, we begin our examination of the nominations and major snubs in each of the major categories with the prestigious Best Picture nod, a category which features this year, nine movies vying for the chance to win the top prize and whilst the easiest course is to examine elsewhere where movies have done particularly well, including winners at the Golden Globes and BAFTA’s, the Oscars do tend do pop out the odd surprise, with last year’s Moonlight win being arguably being the most iconic in recent history. With the top two in contention for the prize being The Shape of Water and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, it would be great to see Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk potentially take away for the award, but with its’ total snub at the BAFTA’s, a ceremony with a predominantly British-centred gaze when it comes to choosing the winners, Nolan’s Oscar vacuum may seemingly go on. Elsewhere, the likes of Get Out, Lady Bird and Call Me By Your Name prove that independent, ideas based movies continue to be recognised, whilst Darkest Hour and The Post seem to be the box-ticking historical dramas which although have a wide range of merits, really have no chance of taking home the award, and even with Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread potentially being the worthy outsider for the prize, it can be hard to argue between the top two favourites which have been dominating award ceremonies over the past few months. When it comes to nomination snubs, Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 is the obvious misstep whilst the widely acclaimed Logan and Julia Ducournau’s Raw are too movies which easily could have been chosen with an eye-widening and forward thinking Academy. Anyhow, here are the predictions…

Winner – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Personal Favourite – Dunkirk

Nomination Snub – Blade Runner 2049

Film Review: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

“You Know, If You Hadn’t Stopped Coming To Church, You’d Have A Little More Understanding Of People’s Feelings…”

With the likes of In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths on his curriculum vitae, Irish screenwrite Martin McDonagh has become renowned in the entertainment trade for snappy and subversive tales which blend the darker traits of the human spirit with rib-tickling comedic undertones, and his return this week with the hotly anticipated jet-black drama, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is an interesting example of a movie which has both equal measures of excellence and fundamental, unforgivable sin. Primarily following Frances McDormand (Fargo, Hail, Caesar!) as the grieving, unpredictable and potty mouthed Mildred Hayes, who in her attempt to call out the workings of the local police force after her daughter’s violent death instinctively causes anguish within the community with the implementation of the titular billboards, McDonagh’s latest carries all the traits and features you would expect when glancing over the director’s previous endeavours on film, but with primary characters within the narrative which ease on the side of utmost vulgarity and gaping plot inconsistencies which become too jarring to ignore, Billboards is a movie which is the epitome of a picture where the whole is lesser than the sum of its’ parts. Whilst performances all around are seemingly note perfect, with obvious plaudits directed to McDormand’s fiery justice seeker and Sam Rockwell’s idiotic, racist and utterly despicable local law enforcer, Officer Dickson, the real heart and centre of the piece is undeniably Woody Harrelson’s Sheriff Bill Willoughby, whose key involvement in the direction of the narrative is the only true character where emotional investment and engagement is truly viable.

Whilst the character of Hayes has a self defined purpose due to the tragic loss of her daughter, her penchant for unwarranted violence and vulgar sensibility highlights the key flaw in a script which not only is tonally wild, but isn’t comedic or sharp enough to come across anything other than played with a straight face, and for a movie which tackles poorly a wide range of issues ranging from rape to institutionalised racism, McDonagh’s script is one of the most nihilistic portrayals of the human race presented on screen in recent memory. With the comedic elements completely absent therefore, the continued use of petulant swearing and offensive set pieces do ultimately lead to extensive nitpicking in terms of plot inconsistencies, with the most obvious being a complete lack of any realist sense of consequence for any of the major players within the piece, with people being violently attacked in front of gazing witnesses, children being assaulted and police stations being burnt to the ground, with the characters at fault then seemingly left without any sense of punishment, and for a movie whose primary basis is Hayes’ search for justice, the feel of the movie just seems terribly conflicted and contradicted. Finally, we get to the character of Rockwell’s Officer Dickson, whose revolting, old-fashioned sensibilities and racist, sexist and bigoted views are seemingly forgotten over the course of the movie’s runtime, with McDonagh handing the character over to the audience as a sort of redemptive figure of hope which I completely and utterly rejected, and whilst Rockwell’s performance is undeniably brilliant, his respective character isn’t and whilst Billboards is indeed brilliantly made and is helmed by a flashy pace which zips along nicely, the key message and feel of the movie ultimately left me with a nasty taste in my mouth, and for a film to successfully manage that, McDonagh’s latest is a film I can admire but ultimately cannot bring myself to like.

Overall Score: 6/10