Arguably one of 2018’s best films was “The Favourite,” a period comedy-drama written by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara, and directed by Yorgos Lanthimos (“The Lobster,” “The Killing of a Sacred Deer”). It reaped 10 Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, making it the most nominated film alongside Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma.” But will the love for the movie translate into a Best Picture win?
Set in early 18th century England, “The Favourite” chronicles Sarah Churchill (Rachel Weisz) and her distant cousin Abigail Hill’s (Emma Stone) tantalizing power games to one-up each other to be the chief adviser to the temperamental Queen Anne (Olivia Colman).
What could have easily been your conventional stuffy period drama ended up being a juicy, refreshing take on power dynamics, gender roles and social hierarchy in 18th century Britain. Lanthimos’ directorial choices, as well as Davis and McNamara’s script, which blurs the lines between comedy and drama seamlessly with its witty, razor-sharp dialogue, shred all conventions and turn the genre on its head. While it’s entertaining to watch the dynamic between the three protagonists shift, it’s the deeply layered characters, especially Colman’s, that stand out.
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However, the movie isn’t just well written and brilliantly directed. From the brilliant cinematography by Robbie Ryan, enhanced by the significant use of wide shots and fisheye lenses, to the sharp editing by Yorgos Mavropsaridis, to the brilliant ensemble cast led by the exquisite trio of actresses, “The Favourite” gives you everything you expect from a potential Best Picture Oscar winner.
Critic Theo Schear (Film Threat) calls the movie “a work of art that embraces and embellishes all the joys of cinema while offering a more enjoyable and progressive revisionist history.“ John Bleasdale (CineVue) says, “The Favourite has ribaldry and intelligence to burn, a deliciously entertaining period piece that feels liberated by its period, rather than restrained and invigorates like a glass of wine thrown violently in your face.“ And Leonardo Goi (Film Stage) praises it for being “endlessly quotable and serendipitously timely“ and “a zany, piercing close-up on three women so replete with swagger as to reduce their male counterparts to disposable extras.”
SEE Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara reveal the modern influences in ‘The Favourite’
“The Favourite” has taken home several important prizes, most recently seven BAFTA Awards, including Best British Film. With a membership overlap, these BAFTA wins could be good news for the movie on its way to the Oscars. The Oscars uses a preferential ballot to determine the Best Picture winner; voters have to rank their choices instead of choosing one single winner. The movie’s 10 bids demonstrate across-the-board support, which could increase its chances as all branches vote in the final round.
That said, with a preferential ballot, a movie needs more than just a considerable number of first-place votes; it needs second- and third-place votes as well. “The Favourite”‘s style and storyline could end up being too weird and unconventional for some voters, placing it in the bottom half of their ballots. Plus, except for its Best British Film win at the BAFTAs, it has also not snatched the top prize at any televised award show yet: “Roma” took home Best Film at the Critics’ Choice Awards and BAFTAs; “Green Book” won the Golden Globe Award for Best Comedy/Musical; “Crazy Rich Asians” snatched Critics’ Choice for Best Comedy; it was snubbed for the ensemble award at the Screen Actors Guild Awards.
According to our combined Oscar odds, “The Favourite” is in fourth place with odds of 7/1, behind “Roma,” “Green Book,” and “BlacKkKlansman,” but ahead of “A Star Is Born,” “Black Panther,” “Vice,” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
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