Three Billboards Outside Of Ebbing Missouri: I came into this film knowing it would be good and did not disappoint: The film is a harrowing, extremely funny film with such perfectly funny details and an extremely good balance of comedy and drama throughout. The cast is filled with fantastic acting and it tells a strong impactful story that holds it's power all the way through. McDormand gives an extremely brave, powerful performance which is both extremely funny and riveting. You see and identify with her pain and her being at the end of her sanity with truly nowhere to latch onto. Harrelson is terrific as the police Sheriff dying of cancer, but still sympathetic and wanting to help Mildred(McDormand's character), but she won't have any of it. Sam Rockwell's character Dixon is perhaps the least sympathetic and most irritating at times, but he is great and progressively more like-able as the film goes on. Pretty much everyone in the whole cast is excellent. My problems with the film though are somewhat numerous: It stretches reality a little too much with all the violent actions the characters do and no consequences for them and the progressive violence goes a bit too over the top after a while and repetitive, but that doesn't bother me. The ending is also pretty flawed too, but I think that was the purpose of it. Still, it's a great film, even though it's problems make me frustrated with it because it could have been a masterpiece. It's still the best film I've seen all year though so far.
The Shape Of Water: This was the first Oscar contender I saw and it was certainly a beautiful achievement. The film is wonderfully directed and filled with such strong, great moments telling a really great love story that's unconventional, but entertaining. Still, the film's story is flawed: Michael Shannon's character is overall great throughout, but I thought he needed more backstory to his character or perhaps a different way of handling his character arc as the film ended because it came across as a little too much. Also, the Soviet storyline is really unclear and not well executed and (slight spoiler) the Doctor's choice at the end isn't credible to me. But the film is a luminous love-story that is also a great thriller with great acting. Hawkins gives a moving, well-developed, radiant performance and the aforementioned Shannon, Jenkins, Stuhlbarg,Spencer(although her character is like Minnie from The Help decided to move to Maryland) and Doug Jones as the mysterious creature are all excellent. I hope it gets honored somewhere on Oscar night and I hope it gets a bunch of Oscar nominations on Oscar Nominations morning.