'The Favourite' was released on December 21, 2018. I will not give away the plot, as many might still watch it before the Academy Awards ceremony this coming Sunday. However, the basic plot is that two women who are very close to Queen Anne of England in the 18th century are desperate to win her favour, and will not leave any stone unturned in that quest
Costume dramas are delightful. A costume drama that is authentic to the period it is representing is even more so. An authentic costume drama that is historically accurate may win awards and or get nominations for them. Masterpieces are those costume plays which are authentic to their historical context, but can make the story relevant to the times in which the film is released. By my estimation, “The Favourite,” directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, and an Oscar nominee for Best Picture this Sunday, is one such masterpiece.
“The Favourite” was released on December 21, 2018. I will not give away the plot, as many might still watch it before the Academy Awards ceremony this coming Sunday. However, the basic plot is that two women who are very close to Queen Anne of England in the 18th century are desperate to win her favour, and will not leave any stone unturned in that quest.
The casting of “The Favourite” deserves top marks in my opinion. All the principal roles were beautifully portrayed by a host of A-listers, who drop memorable lines throughout the film. These lines, mind you, might not be “everyone’s cup of tea.” People who have studied English Literature, or have read texts considered to be classics, or gone through the labyrinth of British Royalty history, will find the dialogues delightful. This is not to say that ordinary film-lovers will not enjoy it. It is a merit and a testament to the film’s making that everyone living in 2019 will enjoy this film. One can very much relate to the complications of character. The ruthless machinations devised by the two women trying to win the Queen’s favour are commonplace among managers of any office in 2019. The highest office in the British kingdom, the “Queen’s bedchamber” no less, will obviously have ruthless politics behind every action. That is the crux of “The Favourite.”
Let me tell how the characters are memorable and the casting is on point. English history records that Queen Anne, the reigning queen of England in 1708, was frail and eccentric. That portrayal by Olivia Colman, the actor playing the Queen, was exactly that. Whether the Queen was lesbian and had 17 rabbits are a matter of historical debate, but having that many pets and such a controversial sexual orientation, could have come from Lanthimos’ creative liberty, exercised specifically for this film. But the point is, Olivia Colman worked with Lanthimos’ brilliant creativity and made the portrayal so authentic that she got nominated for the Best Actress Oscar in 2019.
As for the two women trying to win the Queen’s favour, Rachel Weisz as Lady Sarah and Emma Stone as Abigail, their evilness call to mind Lady Macbeth and other classic femme fatales, who use their sexuality like a weapon. Weisz played the tomboyish dominatrix, who uses her forceful dominating nature to win the Queen’s heart and run her kingdom. Stone plays the scheming and conniving maid who likes to play with danger and will resort to hurting both herself and others, with wicked pleasure, to get what she wants. Who wins among the two will be a spoiler, but for people who consider a story complete only after the denouement, will gladly note that both women are shown their proper place by the end of the film. Both Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz are nominees for Best Supporting Actress.
If I attempt any further analysis of this film we will definitely breach the realm of spoilers, so now I will list the things that deserve mention. First, the costumes and the lavishly designed sets to represent the English Royal Palace will strike you. They were so well done, that costume designer Sandy Powell, and production designers Alice Felton and Fiona Crombie, have won Oscar nominations for their work.
The orchestral soundtrack of “The Favourite” dictates the mood and the pacing of the film. I am surprised the soundtrack did not get an Oscar nomination.
However, my “favourite” part of the film is Nicholas Hoult’s portrayal of a Tory opposition leader, who was just as cunning as Weisz and Stone in their portrayals. He stole the show for me, with his flawless delivery of sarcastic quips and “feinting respect,” qualities so necessary in the Queen’s court.
I do not know if “The Favourite” will win Best Picture Oscar, but I definitely know that it is my favourite costume drama this year.