Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Critics Consensus

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri deftly balances black comedy against searing drama -- and draws unforgettable performances from its veteran cast along the way.



Total Count: 387


Audience Score

User Ratings: 22,136
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Movie Info

THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI is a darkly comic drama from Academy Award winner Martin McDonagh (IN BRUGES). After months have passed without a culprit in her daughter's murder case, Mildred Hayes (Academy Award winner Frances McDormand) makes a bold move, painting three signs leading into her town with a controversial message directed at William Willoughby (Academy Award nominee Woody Harrelson), the town's revered chief of police. When his second-in-command Officer Dixon (Sam Rockwell), an immature mother's boy with a penchant for violence, gets involved, the battle between Mildred and Ebbing's law enforcement is only exacerbated.

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Critic Reviews for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

All Critics (387) | Top Critics (54)

  • Sound too bleak? For some, perhaps. But in McDonagh's careful hands, it's a Cirque du Soleil-like tightrope walk, gracefully balancing the harrowing with the humorous.

    Jan 26, 2018 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • Three Billboards is great.

    Jan 12, 2018 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Watching it is like having your funny bone struck repeatedly, expertly and very much too hard by a karate super-black-belt capable of bringing a rhino to its knees with a single punch behind the ear.

    Jan 12, 2018 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Give all the awards to McDormand, and then invent a bunch of new ones for her too.

    Jan 9, 2018 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • But while that is a rage that's exhilarating to witness, it's a rage that's not available to everyone. Just as not everyone in Ebbing can claim the protection of being considering "good," we still don't live in a world where everyone gets to be angry.

    Dec 4, 2017 | Full Review…
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri tells the story of a woman emulating God's vengeance when she might profit more by emulating his forgiveness, especially toward herself.

    Nov 30, 2017 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

  • May 19, 2019
    From start to finish this was a great behind movie, with vibrant performances. Well disseverved acclaim for this raw and almost poet story telling, it makes you feel and understand all the characters. It is hard for a film to accomplish what this one does, not to be missed.
    Super Reviewer
  • Dec 22, 2018
    This is the real Best picture of 2017
    Fernando M Super Reviewer
  • Dec 02, 2018
    I always seem to start these reviews with a bit of an aside and this aside will focus on Sam Rockwell. Sam Rockwell is one of my favorite actors, personally. I don't wanna say this without sounding like I'm insulting him, but he's also not one of the best actors I've ever seen. And I really don't mean this as an insult, because I'm comparing him to, say, someone like a Daniel Day-Lewis, whose dedication to his craft and the characters he inhabits have made him the best I've ever seen. Sam Rockwell isn't at that truly elite level, but he's only a few slight notches below that. The thing about Sam is that, regardless of what type of role he has to play, he always delivers consistently great performances, even if the movie ends up being absolute shit. He's one of those guys that I can watch in absolutely anything and I would be fine watching it because Sam Rockwell is in it. There's very few actors I can say that for, at least in my own case. Having said that, I felt that Rockwell was snubbed of an Oscar for his performance in Seven Psychopaths. You don't know how fucking great this guy was. Hell, he was even snubbed of a NOMINATION. Like, seriously, watch Rockwell in Seven Psychopaths and tell me how he DOESN'T, at the very least, deserve a nomination. That's not to say that I don't think Rockwell didn't deserve to win it for this movie, as he was fantastic in his portrayal of a troubled and violent cop, but in a way I think it's also to make up for not giving him that nomination for Seven Psychopaths. I suppose it's not fair to talk about this movie and, quite frankly, not mention the absolutely amazing performance from France McDormand. Another well deserved Academy Award win for an actress that, quite frankly, I think a lot of us sleep on. And that's just a shame, because she is absolutely incredible and proves it once again in this movie with a layered, nuanced and beautifully angry performance as this hardened woman who seeks justice for her daughter's rape/murder by putting up three billboards putting Chief Willoughby on blast for not making any arrests in her daughter's case after seven months. And, lastly, I have to talk about Martin McDonagh and his innate ability at drawing career-best performances out of the actors in his movies. He did this for Colin Farrell in In Bruges (which I need to see again). He did this for Rockwell in Seven Psychopaths. And he did this again for McDormand (who's had a stellar career) and Rockwell again. He truly is an actor's director and there's no way that can be denied. And, obviously, his ability at writing incredible dialogue that tell stories that you immerse yourself in. In short, as if it wasn't obvious, I absolutely loved this movie. Sometimes, there's movies that you watch and you're like 'damn, this is why I love movies' and this is one of those. And this is taking into consideration the fact that I HAVE seen better movies than this and, yet, for some reason or another, this makes me happy to love movies as much as I do. Which is a strange thing to say about such a dark movie. That's the thing, this movie isn't really afraid to go to some dark places in terms of exploring the relationship between Mildred and her daughter (that was contentious to say the least), Mildred's relationship to her son and Mildred's relationship to the town of Ebbing, who seem to turn their backs against her as a result of her actions. Interesting ideas to explore, given that the town itself rallies around Chief Willoughby as a result of his cancer diagnosis. In many ways, it reminds me of the whole deal with NFL players kneeling at the national anthem and people taking it as some sort of unpatriotic move disrespecting the memories of dead soldiers. First of all, no soldier ever died for the anthem, let's get that straight. Secondly, the fact of the matter is that these NFL players are standing up against injustices committed against the black community and these NFL players are just calling attention to that, where those responsible for these injustices do not pay for their crimes. And that reminds me very much of the outcry the billboards cause around town. Mildred isn't insulting Chief Willoughby or anything of the sort, she just wants answers for her daughter's rape and murder. She hadn't heard anything from the cops in seven months until she put the billboards up. Now they're all over her. Things are further complicated when Chief Willoughby kills himself to avoid wasting away due to cancer and the town, unfairly, blames Mildred for adding more stress to his already precarious situation with her billboards. As I already mentioned, the movie is impeccably written and cast, so in spite of potentially touching on some very touchy subjects, I think the movie does so with an incredibly adept touch that doesn't disrespect its characters or the situations it presents. Having said that, this movie is also very funny. Ironically enough, it's something like the Coens would make. And I say ironically, because Frances McDormand is married to Joel Coen. I'm not trying to suggest that this movie is, in any way, a ripoff of the Coen brothers, but you can see the similarities. Martin McDonagh still has his own unique touch and wonderfully offensive dialogue that makes it stand out. I love the character development in this movie. Because Mildred gives off this vibe of being a tough, hardened woman and she really is, but you can tell that this is eating her up inside. She is a woman that has been pushed to this point by the cops' inability to find the person culpable for this crime. She's very vulnerable character and you get to see brief glimpses of that and it's great to see, because it shows you that Mildred, in spite of this vibe she gives off, is a woman that is really hurting. But you can tell that she is a very caring woman as well, as given by her response to Willoughby after he accidentally coughs up blood in her face. Or her scene when she talks to a deer. Really great character and, obviously, amazing performance Frances to give live and heart to this person. Willoughby is also an interesting character in that you can tell that he's a good man, that he feels for Mildred's situation and how he wishes he could find the one(s) responsible for what happened. His suicide was also quite unexpected as well. There's these scenes when Willoughby's wife, Dixon (Rockwell's character) and Mildred all read suicide notes that are all quite heartbreaking, lovely and funny all in equal measure. I think his letter to Dixon is probably the best of them all as it really inspires a change in a man that, really, seemed to have no redeemable qualities. He basically tells him to let go of the hate and embrace the love. The movie also raises some interesting question, because Dixon comes across someone he thinks might be Angela's (Mildred's daughter) murderer, later in the film after he suffers severe burns as a result of Mildred burning down the police station. He takes some DNA from the guy after purposely getting into a fight with him. But, sadly, it turns out that he was not the guy. Dixon apologizes to Mildred for getting her hopes up and then they set off on a journey to murder this man who is innocent of Angela's rape and murder specifically, but he is still a rapist. And that brings an interesting question to mind as to whether, for Mildred at least, killing a rapist and, most likely, a murderer too, just not her Angela's rapist and murderer, would be enough to give Mildred (and Dixon, to an extent) some peace of mind. Tough question to ask, really. Well, there you have it. I don't really think I can say much else about this movie. I thought it was fantastic and it features some of the best acting you'll see from any film from 2017. McDormand is out of this world. Rockwell is incredible. The rest of the cast is impeccable as well. Writing is fantastic. This has everything you could ask for and then some. This is quite the easy recommendation. It's that fucking great of a movie.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • Aug 28, 2018
    There is so much pent-up rage over the handling of rape, and police behavior in general, that I think Frances McDormand's character in this film really struck a chord with people. She's on a crusade for her daughter who was raped and killed, and yet no progress has been made in the investigation. She doesn't care who she offends, she won't be intimidated into silence, and she'll stand up for herself in some violent ways. In an interesting twist, the police chief (Woody Harrelson) has pancreatic cancer, so aside from being called out on his investigation, he's dealing with that. The scene McDormand and Harrelson have in an interrogation room, and a specific moment of that is easily the film's best. Harrelson provides a voice of wisdom in the film, and the three letters he pens are also quite touching. There is humor as well, in just how boneheaded one of the policemen (Sam Rockewell) is, and the gem of a moment when Peter Dinklage, otherwise largely wasted, utters the line "Penelope said 'begets'?", in a subtle burn of the 19-year-old now dating McDormand's ex-husband. The film started strong, but along the way started losing me. It suffers artistically from a lack of restraint, and everything seems exaggerated. The profanity. The characters, who start becoming cartoonish. The level of violence. The coincidences. It seems to me that McDonagh's writing is a real issue here. Her last words to her daughter were "I hope you get raped," really? To leave that in the script is egregiously bad, and an insult to the viewer's intelligence. The Molotov cocktails, really? The guy being in the station to begin with, and of course wearing ear buds, really? A man thrown out of a window, and no arrest, really? And on and on, until an ending which is pretty awful if you think about it. It's just tough to appreciate the message of the film or its cast in light of all this. It was entertaining to watch, but in my humble opinion, not worthy of all the acclaim.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer

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