“The Favourite” is nominated for 5 awards at the Golden Globes. It has another 76 wins and 204 nominations for other cinematic awards.
The excellent acting in “The Favourite” is from all three of the principals: Olivia Colman as Queen Anne, Rachel Weisz as Lady Sarah Marlborough and Emma Stone as Abigail (Lady Sarah’s cousin) are 3 of its Golden Globe nominations. Also excellent is Nicholas Hoult as Harley. There are numerous nominations from various other competitions for Best Screenplay, Best Costumes, Best Make-Up, Best Direction, Best Ensemble Cast, Best Comedy/Drama, etc.
First, let me say that I knew “The Favourite” would be “different” in a weird way, because it was directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, who directed “The Lobster” with Colin Farrell (and Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman, again). That was one of the stranger films in recent memory, but it had some very funny moments.
I anticipated similar funny moments in “The Favourite” but this film is much less humorous. (I’ve appended some memorable lines from it.),
Second let me add that I have only now researched Anne, last of the Stuart rulers (1702-1714) to determine the film’s authenticity. Throughout the film I asked myself about the French/English war in question. Only now, in looking up the history, did I find out that there was a difference of opinion about whether to fight the war on land (Rachel Weisz’s spouse, Lord Marlborough, was the head of land forces) or on sea. The movie also failed to mention a settlement in a war under Queen Anne that gave her something like 22% of a lucrative trade ferrying slaves. (Not P.C. enough?)
The information that Queen Anne gives in the script about having been pregnant 17 times: true. Only one child, a son, managed to live until 1700. Her failure to provide a male heir led to Queen Anne’s downfall as a monarch.
Third: The palace settings in “The Favourite” (Hatfield House in Hatfield, Hertfordshire) and costuming were phenomenally opulent. The costumes and make-up will be hard to beat at awards time. Add to that the sensitive acting by the three female leads and it is a film-lover’s film. Maybe not for the Marvel fans among us. Filmed on a $15 million dollar budget, it looks every penny of those millions.
“The Favourite” has used the credits in a weird way—presenting them like a cross-stitch at the end. It makes them hard to read. During the story various messages are displayed for the camera with odd statements like “This Mud Stinks,” “What An Outfit,” “A Minor Hitch,” “Stop Infection,” “Leave That I Like It,” “I Dreamt I Stabbed You in the Eye.” The plot does not unfurl as smoothly as that of some other films of this length (2 hours) and part of that is the presence of these weird markers. The title cards, displayed along the way are like the names of television episodes that we see on Netflix streaming services. Often, the phrase displayed will be a line of dialogue (“This mud stinks.”).
“The Favourite” really does not have a “concluded” feeling. It is a long movie (1 hr., 59 minutes) but it feels as though it (still) could go on for a while, to let us know exactly what the fate of Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) and her soldier husband are. Instead, it just ends.
The musical background in “The Favourite” is monotonous and odd, with almost the sound of dripping water at times. It’s a bit like a beating heart. However, the musical selections are duly noted at film’s end. (Primarily classical).
One question that I still have: was the dance that Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) is shown doing in “The Favourite” with a young man (which drives the Queen into a rage) a “real” dance of the time? It looked more like something from the Zoot Suit days than an early 18th century parlor dance. Likewise, the dance that Abigail and the Queen practice in her chamber.
Here are some lines from the nominated screenplay for “The Favourite”scripted by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara:
“Love has its limits.”
“Sometimes a lady likes to have some fun.”
“I’ll make a killer of you yet.” (Lady Sarah, i.e., Rachel Weisz, to Abigail, i.e., Emma Stone)”
“I am a person of honor even if my station is not.” (Abigail)
“You are too sensitive.” (Lady Sarah to Queen Anne). “And you are too mean and uncaring.” (The Queen to Lady Sarah, her childhood friend become Lady of the Bedchamber and chief advisor.)
“There is no point winning a war abroad if losing one at home.”
“I’m on my side, always. Sometimes, it’s a happy coincidence for you.” (Abigail).