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Can Frances McDormand Win Best Actress for This Trailer?

Martin McDonagh’s ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ looks like a knockout

Here’s maybe the 45th-best line from Seven Psychopaths, Irish playwright Martin McDonagh’s 2012 talk-and-shoot-’em-up. It’s delivered by Christopher Walken to Colin Farrell’s Marty, McDonagh’s screenwriter stand-in in the film. They are talking about Marty’s latest project. “Your women characters are awful,” Walken jabs. “None of them have anything to say for themselves, most of them get shot or stabbed to death within minutes, and the ones that don’t probably will later on.”

Points for self-awareness on McDonagh’s part; his plays and movies typically focus on the violence men apply to each other to the exclusion of anyone or anything else. I’m guessing McDonagh took that self-imposed charge to heart, because in the first trailer for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, released Thursday, Frances McDormand is on the warpath.

(Fox Searchlight)
(Fox Searchlight)

McDormand’s Mildred Hayes erects those titular billboards to call the cops out for failing to solve her daughter’s murder, and that’s just the start. The two and a half minutes also find McDormand using a dentist’s drill on the dentist, shit-talking a number of police, kicking two schoolchildren in the crotch, calling Sam Rockwell “Fuckhead,” throwing a Molotov cocktail, spitting on that dentist, and interrupting a reporter’s dispatch on her billboards with an elaborately profane drive-by in a wood-paneled station wagon. The movie looks to be chock-full of McDonagh’s trademarks: violence, elaborate use of profanity, real humor, copious use of oldies. But this time, it’s got Frances McDormand, who is ready to beat you up. Three Billboards doesn’t yet have a release date. I presume it will get one when McDormand is good and ready, and not one goddamn second before.