In the last ten years, there have been two films made that are set in the Ozarks (where I come from originally). One got it so completely right that even though I didn't particularly love the film, I was compelled to rewatch it a few months later just marveling at the details. Accents, diction, people, look, attitudes, profanity, clothes, body language, exterior locations, "Winter's Bone" just nailed it, across the board.
Then there is Three Billboards, which gets absolutely nothing right, at any point, in any respect. The landscape is off from the opening shot, it has a vaguely Missouri-ish look to it, even if the mountains are all 50% too big, it's a reasonable look alike, easy to forgive.
But then literally everything (except maybe the wallpaper inside the houses) is wrong. It's so breathtakingly wrong it is almost as though the filmmaker is projecting contempt.
On the other hand, John Ford deliberately made a film about Wales and populated it with nothing but Irish tropes, and I love the film in spite of that, so I think, maybe this can still work.
but every step is wrong, and it's more and more grating with each additional scene. wrong people, wrong clothes, wrong attitudes, wrong mountains, wrong... river (WTF rivers are smaller in the state, except THE river, which doesn't look like that), wrong religion, wrong... zoo? A zoo? seriously? okay so they're near Springfield then? and wrong, random accents, no attempt at diction, particularly the incorporation of profanity into the diction was just approached all wrong.
I'm also increasingly confused by McDormand's mountainside palace, presumably she got it in the divorce, but that house would be shatteringly expensive in state, she works in a gift shop and he was a cop.
In any event. everything being wrong aside, (this would be quite good set in Dublin, perhaps, or maybe in Bruges, even), the film is quite well done and entertaining. Sure I'm put off a bit at Dixon's pivot from one kind of bad to another kind (and I guess we're supposed to think he-done-gud?), but the ending itself it nicely conceived.
It's not the worst film nominated this year, and not a bad film, but probably in the bottom three ish for me.