Going into the 75th Golden Globe Awards, the race seemed wide open for Best Motion Picture, Drama. Coming out of the evening, however, it was a different story as the surprisingly comic but dark drama Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri captured four major awards: Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Sam Rockwell); Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama (Frances McDormand), Best Screenplay, Motion Picture (writer/director Martin McDonagh) and the film also walked away with the coveted Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture, Drama.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – arguably one of the longest movie titles in cinema history – tells the story of a vigilante mother who takes matters into her own hands as she searches for her daughter’s murderer. Fueled by fury, Mildred Hayes (McDormand) erects three provocative highway signs to catch the eye of the town’s revered Chief of Police, Bill Willoughby (Woody Harrelson). Mildred is angry that Willoughby has made no inroads into finding the man who raped and murdered her daughter just under the old billboards visible from her front porch. This ignites a firestorm in the community and creates unexpected allegiances and hostile reactions, particularly from Willoughby’s unprincipled protégé, Officer Dixon (Rockwell).
This is the third film written and directed by Martin McDonagh, after In Bruges (2008), which earned Colin Farrell a Golden Globe, and Seven Psychopaths (2012), where he first worked with Sam Rockwell. The actor was eager to team up again without even reading the script and describes the London playwright with multiple Olivier awards under his belt as “one of the great writers, up there with Harold Pinter, David Mamet, Tarantino and Sam Shepard.”
Juxtaposing two archetypal characters – a grieving mother and a racist cop – also gives Frances McDormand arguably the greatest role of her career and Rockwell reveals she embraced that fully. “She’s a force of nature,” he says. “She was reading John Wayne’s biography before she did the movie and she got this idea to even do a little bit of his walk from The Searchers. She’s just one of those great actors who makes you want to bring your ‘A’ game to set when you play with her.”