This year's Oscar race seems short of a clear best picture front runner, and to be perfectly honest, it's not due to a lack of quality films. Having to choose your personal favourite in a lineup that includes Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, The Shape of Water, Call Me By Your Name and Phantom Thread is a decision that most voters probably hope to be in every single year. I'm personally rooting for Get Out, but taking into consideration the still rather dated membership of the Academy (which is rapidly changing), I would more than settle for Jordan Peele nabbing a win for his writing efforts.
In all likelihood, the best picture category is a battle between Three Billboards and The Shape of Water. And as much as I gleamed while watching the Toronto-shot sea monster love story in a theatre where part of the film actually took place (The Elgin Theatre), I was simply enamoured by the power and beauty of Three Billboards. Never have I seen a film anchored on so much darkness present itself with such optimism and intentional ambiguity. While covering some heavy subject matter, with seemingly clearcut answers to who (and what's) right versus wrong, Martin McDonagh casts a striking shade of grey on the film's characters and situations. There's obviously still a clear black and white dynamic at play, but there's also a level of complexity that pushes you to question this dynamic.
Three Billboards is about finding justice in a world that often refuses to hand you what is clearly just. It's a sentiment that oddly reflects what our society faces time and again, and the fight to mitigate this form of injustice is ever so prevalent. Especially now, and especially in Hollywood right now. But as much as hate and anger should be a natural ingredient in this pursuit for justice, there's room for other feelings too. And Three Billboards demonstrates that by vitalizing some truly tragic content in the most tender way possible. Knowing what this film is about, you'll hopefully agree that what McDonagh does here is damn hard. And he does it so well. The way he displays the slew of emotional uncertainty with such confidence is strikingly perfect. And I haven't even gotten to the cast yet, but don't need to as I'm sure there will be some well deserved trophies handed to at least two of them tonight.
So as much as I liked The Shape of Water and will forever be a fan of the great Guillermo del Toro, I think he will be more than content leaving the auditorium with his first Oscar win for directing. Three Billboards will, and should, take the win for best picture. Fingers crossed!