With the ninety-first Academy Awards zooming ever closer into vision, we’ve asked some of #FilmTwitter‘s top bloggers to explain why their favourite Best Picture nominee should come out on top.
Our run through continues concludes today with Nathan – of Perks of Being Nath – on Vice. You can follow Ruth on Twitter @__Nathan but not before you check out what he has to say here!
You are cordially invited to celebrate The Favourite: this award season’s most deserving film to compete for the accolade of Best Picture. Those expecting a stuffy period drama need look elsewhere. Yorgos Lanthimos’ acerbic tale of Queen Anne and the two ladies vying for her attention is the antithesis of such prime Oscar bait, instead inverting and subverting our every expectation. Not that you should have expected anything less from the filmmaker behind Dogtooth, The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Deer. In only his third feature in the English language, Lanthimos has crafted a masterpiece: a wickedly delightful, purely delectable slice of royal farce that finds an extraordinary, accomplished middle ground between the comedic and the tragic.
There’s a reason why The Favourite has received the (joint) highest number of Oscar nominations of any film this year. With ten nods notched – including: Best Director, Best Actress, two Best Supporting Actresses, Best Original Screenplay and, of course, Best Picture – it’s fair to say The Favourite succeeds in every respect. An impeccably-crafted piece that transfuses Yorgos Lanthimos’ signature idiosyncrasies and directorial peculiarities into a decidedly more mainstream, accessible feature, The Favourite straddles the boundaries between mainstream and arthouse cinema with stunning results. Uncompromising in its salacious behavior and unapologetic in its pointed nature, this is, deliciously, its own thing – that comparatively somber ending is the truest testament to that.
At the film’s core is a trifecta of astonishing performances, with the three ladies of The Favourite leading one of the finest ensembles built on screen. Colman’s Queen Anne is madly brilliant, mercurial and volcanic, scathing with sharp zingers and mastering wall-bouncing hilarity. Colman cracks the facade of Anne with precision, illustrating a vulnerability and fragility that gives way to the quieter, more ponderous elements of the picture. She is nothing short of commanding, majestic even, and long may she rule.
Emma Stone dazzles too, wickedly captivating as the fascinating, complex and unpredictable Abigail. Stone’s journey into aristocratic Britain convinces and she delightfully sinks her teeth into the meaty role and character arc. Exemplary, another career-highlight is registered by Stone and assert herself once more as one of Hollywood’s finest actresses.
Many of the layers to Sarah Churchill are not quite as obvious, a marvellous feat realised through the sheer beauty of Rachel Weisz’s performance. She unreels the character with tremendous nuance and lands on something so profoundly moving and surprising that it would be almost comic in the way the film has operated, duping and exploiting your empathy to side with certain characters whose intentions should have been crystal clear from the word go – if it weren’t so tragic to witness. Despite Stone and Weisz battling it out in the Supporting Actress category, all three women deserve an inauguration into The Academy for such excellent work – and how great is Nicholas Hoult, too?!
While I am utterly convinced that these women in this dynamic could thrive under almost any circumstance, it just so happens to be that they come armed with a sublime screenplay from Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara — in fact, I’d go as far as to say it’s easily one of the very best that the decade has offered us to date. Every barbarous, acerbic one-liner instructs a thunderous response but often hides deep meaning that may not immediately present itself, only exposing and enlightening upon additional analysis. The opening exchange alone – ‘love has limits’/’it should not’ – wastes no time in burrowing to the very heart of what this film is musing on: the conditions, manipulation and weaponisation of love. That such simple, quirky conversations can possess such subterfuge is astounding, with the powerful deeper meaning expressing what outstandingly clever and assured writing it really is.
Lanthimos’ direction possesses a similar depth. Despite the unique, genre-uncommon wide shots and frequent use of fish eye lens offering us a real scope to the scale – showcasing the decadent production design and sumptuous costume design – Lanthimos continues to place his characters at the forefront. Such technical elements enhance The Favourite’s every success, with stunning cinematography, crisp editing and a gorgeously-assembled soundtrack enriching further still.
Describing a film as “of the moment” can seem redundant: how long does a moment last? Yet, there’s an unreserved relevance to the themes and messages in contention here, bubbling beyond the love triangle and royal shenanigans on display: a tooth-and-dagger fight for power, the greed of a few altering the course of history for the many, and a deal that cannot be resolved pleasantly for anyone involved. Sound familiar? Lanthimos holds a mirror from the current to the past, reflecting mighty messages and timely themes to tragicomic results: forever entertaining but offering more beneath the (gorgeous) surface. In my eyes, The Favourite does the two most important things cinema should do: entertains and engages.
The Favourite’s success is hidden in the small, luscious details: a finely-woven tapestry that speaks impressively wide but tells a weightier story when examined more closely. Its unique ability to subvert expectations, its zeitgeist-tapping control of themes appropriate for a contemporary audience and genuinely astonishing technical accomplishments would make this film worthy of Best Picture in this or any other given year. For their achievements to cinema, Lanthimos, Colman, Weisz and Stone deserve their Oscar coronation on February 24th, while the evening’s royal banquet should undoubtedly be reserved for The Favourite.
Do you agree with Nathan? Read our review here and let us know your thoughts in the comments!
Don’t forget to check out Plain Simple Tom on why A Star is Born should win, Hamish on Black Panther, Chris on Bohemian Rhapsody, Dan and Nancy on Green Book, Lolo and BigJ on BlacKkKlansman, Steven on Roma and Ruth on Vice too.