HOLLYWOOD—Its dark, it has comedic overtures and might be one of the most underestimated flicks of 2017, but anyone who loves great cinema has to take a look at the dramedy “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” This is a film written and directed by Martin McDonagh that is fascinating from start to finish. It has a cast of actors who are stellar on all fronts, not to mention a narrative that is tough to watch at times, but also riveting to see how things unfold. Things don’t always go as expected in this movie and that makes it that much more intriguing.

The movie stars Frances McDormand as Mildred Hayes, a mother grieving the loss of her daughter Angela who was brutally raped and murdered. Yes, it is a very tough pill to swallow in the opening moments of the film and a harsh reality to address something of such a high magnitude, but McDonagh does it by delivering quirky moments that emit laughs that lighten the mood. Mildred has gone nearly seven months waiting for answers to locate the culprit responsible for her daughter’s death, delivering emotions that no parent should have to grapple with. So to bring attention to the town and to the authorities, Mildred takes extreme measures, where she purchases three abandoned billboards where she highlights her daughters’ death in hopes of getting people to talk and for the authorities to ramp up their investigation to solve the case.

“Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri” forces a parent to place themselves into Mildred’s shoes, and to answer some tough questions. What would you do if it were your child? How far would you go to get answers and is there anything you wouldn’t do for justice?  Mildred’s decision to rent those billboards causes ire with the residents, as well as Sheriff Bill Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) and Officer Jason Dixon (Sam Rockwell).

This is where the movie really shines. McDormand is s a force to be reckoned with delivering a performance that is some of her best work to date in my opinion. For those who believe that there are no juicy roles for women of a certain age in Hollywood, please think again. Some of the meatier roles in recent years have been a direct result of actresses who have a vast amount of history in the acting arena.

McDormand carries the torch for this movie, but Harrelson and Rockwell deliver Oscar-caliber work as well. Harrelson is a hoot to watch as an authority figure battling terminal pancreatic cancer. Willoughby is a character that brings a level of sarcasm, but sadness to a character that as a viewer you should despise, but you care for this character. You don’t always know what is cooking inside his psyche, which makes watching the character grow so much fun.

The same sentiment echoes for Rockwell as Dixon. He’s been touted as a Supporting Actor contender, but I honestly think he’s a strong candidate in the Best Actor race. He has a very juicy role in this flick and once this somewhat braindead character appears on the screen you want to see more and more of him. He’s a momma’s boy, and grapples with his emotions in ways that are explosive, riveting to watch and dare I say a scene stealer.

This is a movie where the acting is top-notch, where McDormand, Harrelson and Rockwell bounce off of each other to deliver things that stick with the viewer long after the credits end. When awards season comes around there are always those flicks that are so buzzed about, but never live up to the hype. There is a reason “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” is getting all the accolades, it’s because it’s a cinematic masterpiece!