2018 Awards Profile: Fox Searchlight’s ‘The Favourite’ from Yorgos Lanthimos

Welcome to the 2018 Awards Profile series, where we talk about films coming to a theater near you at some point this year (at least at this time of writing). We will analyze the potential for these films to be players for the Academy Awards, and while many of these have the potential to be recognized, many will not, either by quality or being pushed back to the following year. For the next few weeks, we will bring you a film every Monday through Friday to talk about their awards hopes and analyze the film’s chances for success. If you have a suggestion, please include it in the comments below. If you missed a film, click on the tag or category Awards Profile.

FILM: “The Favourite”
PRODUCERS: Ceci Dempsey, Ed Guiney, Yorgos Lanthimos, Lee Magiday
DISTRIBUTOR: Fox Searchlight Pictures
DIRECTOR: Yorgos Lanthimos
WRITERS: Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara
CAST: Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone, Nicholas Hoult
SYNOPSIS (from IMDb): A bawdy, acerbic tale of royal intrigue, passion, envy and betrayal in the court of Queen Anne in early 18th century England.

WHY IT MIGHT SUCCEED:

It seems like it’s only a matter of time before director Yorgos Lanthimos brings forth a film that really connects with a larger audience. His third feature, “Dogtooth,” earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film in 2010. It didn’t win that year, but it was only the fifth Greek film ever nominated in the category, and the first since 1977. That was enough to make people take notice of his very unique style of storytelling. When his strange-but-compelling film “The Lobster” hit in 2015, Lanthimos scored another Oscar nomination. This time for Original Screenplay. Last year’s “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” was certainly polarizing, but its screenplay win and Palme d’Or nomination at Cannes showed that there are a lot of people out there who really enjoy what Lanthimos is doing.

And now he brings something that seems to be very different. Where his previous work has been set in something of modern or near-future dystopias, “The Favourite” is a period piece with a very specific setting and historical context. Bringing together Oscar winners Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz, and pairing them with incredible Olivia Colman seems like a winning combination. Especially when you consider the great work Colman and Weisz already got to showcase in their previous collaboration with Lanthimos.

This is also a story that isn’t burdened by saturation. Sure, there are a lot of films about monarchs. And a lot of those either tell the stories of the legendary kings like Henry VIII or Elizabeth I. The court of King Louis XVI makes for an interesting script. But the story of Queen Anne is one that has only really been explored in limited doses. And it is a very compelling tale that involves political intrigue, competing royals, and a Glorious Revolution.

Between a brilliant cast and a talented director who isn’t afraid of trying new things, “The Favourite” seems poised to make some waves. And when you factor in the potential for spectacular costumes by none other than three-time Oscar winner Sandy Powell, plus 18th century inspired production design Fiona Crombie, this may very well be the project that propels Lanthimos into a new tier of filmmakers.

WHY IT MAY NOT SUCCEED:

As already mentioned above, Lanthimos can be a polarizing filmmaker. His films don’t necessarily appeal to a broad cross-section of cinephiles or Oscar voters. This could fall into the category of another film embraced by his fans, but dismissed by others as simply “too weird.”

What’s surprising about this film—and a potential liability—is the fact that Lanthimos did not write the screenplay. He usually writes or co-writes all of his scripts. This time, he is directing a script written by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara. Davis has no previous screenwriting credits. She has, however, written biographies about such figures as Truman Capote. But it’s the lack of screenwriting experience that could come into play. She does have a co-writer, Tony McNamara, but his credits are mostly from television. His two feature film credits came 12 years apart and are for films that weren’t exactly acclaimed.

But these writers could be a perfect pairing for the experimental director. If we have learned anything from Lanthimos, it’s that you can’t possibly imagine what the film will be until you sit down to experience it for yourself.

The other, bigger reason this film might not succeed this year is that there is potentially a more high profile Royal Family Drama movie coming at the end of the year: “Mary, Queen of Scots.” That film could simply crowd this one out. They have different distributors, and Fox Searchlight is coming off a Best Picture win, but the awards concentration may simply go to whichever ends up getting the higher profile.

POTENTIAL AWARDS IN PLAY

  • Best Picture
  • Best Director—Yorgos Lanthimos
  • Lead Actress—Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz
  • Supporting Actress—Emma Stone
  • Supporting Actor—Nicholas Hoult
  • Original Screenplay—Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara
  • Costume Design—Sandy Powell
  • Makeup and Hairstyling
  • Production Design—Fiona Crombie and Lynne Huitson
  • Editing—Sam Sneade
  • Cinematography—Robbie Ryan
  • Original Score

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF “THE FAVOURITE” AND ITS CHANCES WITH OSCAR? SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS IN THE COMMENTS!

CHECK OUT THE FIRST OFFICIAL SET OF YEAR-IN-ADVANCE OSCAR PREDICTIONS AND SEE WHERE THE FILM RANKS!