Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri premiered this morning at the Venice Film Festival and the buzz on the Lido can be summarized as: Frances McDormand. Warmly received at the press screening, with multiple ovations during the film and a special ovation for McDormand during the credits, the film could end up being a stronger than expected Best Actress vehicle for McDormand who has the perfect scene-chewing and heartbreaking role in the film.
Here are some reasons why McDormand stands a very good chance of a nom on Oscar morning:
- The Oscar Clips
In terms of Oscar scenes, McDormand doesn’t have one or two – the entire film is her Oscar clip. She brings in an incredible screen presence and has many standout moments that stay with you long after exiting the hall. She is angry, foul-mouthed, sassy, violent and determined. Her best scene, though, is one in which we finally see her vulnerability. Behind that steely, angry mask is a mom who lost her child and never got to see the murderer get captured. In this scene, which is one of her many excellent ones, she finds a random deer on the road where she had paid for three giant billboards with strong words for the police department who she believes are busy ‘eating donuts and reading comics’ than actually finding the culprit. She finds her comfort in speaking to the deer, than in speaking with any human being. After all, no one really understands what she’s going through – a wide range of emotions that seem undecipherable for those around her and that’s when anger is the only emotion people can really relate to. In this haunting scene, we see her fractured self who, in just a few seconds, reveals all the character’s complexity and tones.
- Her Industry Stature
McDormand’s path to a nomination will not be all that surprising. She is beloved by the industry and has been nominated 4 times before, winning once for Fargo. It’s hard to believe but it’s been over 10 years since her last nomination and another one could be seen as due. SAG specifically will almost certainly nominate her this year – it’s the type of role actors love. De-glammed (McDormand hardly has any make up on in any scene), scenery-chewing, showy and memorable. It will play well to the acting branch and that’s all you need for a nomination.
- Her Studio
Fox Searchlight will be quite busy this season, as they will have to handle three acclaimed leading female performances: Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water, Emma Stone in Battle of the Sexes and now McDormand in a tremendous role in Three Billboards. Can they get all in? It has happened before in 2001 when Miramax managed to earn nods for Zellweger, Spacek and Dench in a stacked and heated race. Could this be the first year since 2001 for this to happen or will one of the three miss?
- The Film
A few reviews exist at the point of writing but judging from initial reactions, the film looks to be better received than other contenders in the Actress race (Victoria and Abdul, The Leisure Seeker, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool to name a few). While it’s not necessary for an Actress contender to have a strong film, it generally helps if there are passionate supporters for the film. And for now, it does look like Three Billboards will.
If not, Fox Searchlight can always send McDormand out to canvass voters herself: