Oscar category confusion bedevils ‘The Favourite’ stars: Should Olivia Colman go for lead race?

The Favourite” is such a superb film that I don’t there’s much doubt that it will be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. Eighteen of our 22 Experts rank it in the top race and the ones who don’t are wrong. However, there’s huge doubt surrounding what to do with its troublesome, pouty, frumpy, spoiled, lame, tantrum-prone Queen Anne (Olivia Colman).

Does Colman belong in the lead Best Actress race? Or supporting where she’d compete against her two luminous costars Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone?

Throughout the first hour of the film, it’s Weisz who reigns, defiantly and diabolically, as Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, the Queen’s “favourite” and furious master who makes Her Highness grovel for re-assurances of affection (Anne constantly begs, “Do you still love me?”) and bows to Sarah’s secret political influence in parliament. Arguably, though, this is Emma Stone’s movie since we see this outrageous drama play out through her eyes as she schemes to topple Weisz’s place at the Queen’s side and in her bed.

Colman’s Queen may actually have less screen time and even less dialog than Weisz and Stone, but she gradually takes over the screen and story as a fabulous grotesque who’s increasingly crippled by gout, corpulence and emotional outbursts. Colman recently won Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival, but that competition doesn’t have a separate race for supporting players.

Colman is the only one who receives predictions from Gold Derby’s Experts in the lead category: 11 out of 22 say she’ll be nominated and 3 pick her to win. It’s a wide-open race with a lot of wild cards: Can Lady Gaga actually be taken seriously as a thespian? Can Glenn Close finally catch up with her ridiculously overdue Oscar for such an understated role? It’s possible for Colman to prevail in lead, but, if she did so, many Oscarologists might consider it to be one of those Nicole Kidman situations, where Kidman had less screen time than two rival, famous costars in “The Hours,” but everybody considered it to be her movie anyway, so they just handed her the Oscar. However, in that case, Kidman was considered overdue to win, while Colman is experiencing a career breakthrough right now.

Or is this one of those Viola Davis (“Fences”) or Patricia Arquette (“Boyhood”) situations where the actress would probably be nominated in lead, but had a strong chance to win in supporting? Four Gold Derby Experts pick Colman to be nominated in supporting and 3 of them say she’ll win there. Meantime, 12 Experts pick Stone to be nommed in supporting (1 to win); 7 choose Weisz (none to win).

My view: If Fox Searchlight wants to go for the win, Colman should go supporting. That’s where they love ferocious monsters like last year’s Allison Janney (“I, Tonya”). For now, I’ve got Colman in lead, but I haven’t made my picks in supporting yet.

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