A case of why the Favourite should win Best Picture at the Academy Awards.
The Academy Awards have taken a severe beating in the past couple months in a series of controversies. Losing Kevin Hart as the host, deciding not to broadcast technical awards like Best Cinematography and Best Editing and nominating a couple films deemed “problematic”, the awards season has had a rocky start.
Is there any chance of recovery? I would say there is only one way toward recovery: “The Favourite” must win Best Picture.
While my deep fondness for director Yorgos Lanthimos and his stilted, chaotic-evil style may be selfishness on my part, I believe that “The Favourite” winning Best Picture is not only the best decision, but a necessary one.
I personally enjoyed“The Favourite” immensely. I am absolutely prepared to make the argument for why it is imperative that the Academy deems it the best movie of the year.
While the subjective artistic merits of the film have been widely appreciated by most critics, with the film sitting at a 94 percent Rotten Tomatoes score with the average score being an 8.5/10, I see political and even financial reasons to give the Oscar for Best Picture to “The Favourite.”
For one, its uniqueness and utter strangeness makes it stand out from among the crowd of current nominees that mostly range from perfectly adequate to downright mediocre.
“The Favourite” is unlike any other British costume drama and it’s win would show America that the Academy is willing to recognize unique talent when it rises to the top. The Oscars are frequently derided with accusations of being too boring, both as a ceremony and as an awards distributor, and “The Favourite” winning Best Picture would put puts those accusations to bed.
The film follows the complicated and deranged court of Queen Anne (Olivia Coleman). Her confidante Sarah Churchill (Rachel Weisz) and her estranged cousin who works as a maid (Emma Stone) vie for the Queen’s attention for both political and personal reasons. The result is a powerful and engrossing struggle of dominance, jealousy and ambition.
Diversity on all fronts is ideal for an Oscar nomination. While “The Favourite” obviously has an all-white cast, with most of the characters being British nobility in the early eighteenth century, the gender dynamics of the film ensure it is a fantastic example of female representation in films.
All three performances are captivating. Coleman is a standout as the pitiful Queen doing her best to keep a kingdom united while at war with France while severely ill and mentally unstable. As the Queen’s advisor, Weisz is brutal and acts as the brains behind the power of the royal crown, influencing Anne to make a controversial decision to keep the war effort successful. Stone’s character is beautiful and cunning–a perfect fit in Lanthimos’s awkward and spontaneous style.
The cinematography is strikingly unique with its use of Kubrick-esque smooth tracking shots, fisheye lenses and beautifully engineered set pieces that engulf the actors in their stateliness.
One might not expect the film to be as funny as it is considering how dark it becomes. The showiness of the British nobility, as well as their complete disregard for English citizens, creates an otherworldly atmosphere within Queen Anne’s court.
While the film addresses important historical moments during Queen Anne’s rule, those events, and the men who were primarily responsible are mostly left offstage. The film at its core is concerned with the relationships between Anne, Sarah and Abigail, which makes for personable, but oftentimes disturbing viewing.
None of the other films nominated are perceived to be as radical and punishing as “The Favourite” is. Lanthimos’s film has the most dynamic characters, the most unique cinematography, the most original script and boasts fantastic female representation in film. While it may alienate some with its inherent weirdness, I believe this is exactly what should compel the Academy to grand it the Academy Award for Best Picture.
Looking back, the Academy will want the film they choose for Best Picture to be an exapmle of the most quality work of the year. Too often, they award a mediocre, but utterly forgettable film and ignore real art.
This year, however, they can change that by giving “The Favourite” Best Picture and being able to look back in a decade and agree that in 2019, despite the headlines, controversies and ratings, they can say without a doubt, they chose well.