My Favorite Moments in the Best Picture Nominees: The Favourite

Every year, the day before the Oscars, I present my favorite moments from the Best Picture nominees. I do this because things get so subjective and because lines get drawn during the Oscar race. People pick favorites, people start to have negative feelings toward certain films because they’d prefer something else have won or have been nominated. I do this to clear the air of all that. I try to remind us of what this is all about — a celebration of film and of the great films that have come out this year.

I take this day to look at all the nominees as great pieces of cinema. Forget what will win or won’t win — let’s celebrate the films themselves. The point is, when you take away the competition, the awards, the completely arbitrary nature of how no one can truly pick which film is better than another, what we’re left with are great movies. That’s what today is about.

Our next nominee is The Favourite. Must the duck be here?

5. The dancing scene

Oh holy shit was this funny. I could not stop laughing when this happened. If it weren’t already apparent, this is the moment where you realized that this movie was not giving you the traditional royalty biopic that you’d normally get. And it’s also the perfect Yorgos Lanthimos moment. It’s so bizarre and insane but also played so straight that it just totally works. This is one of those moments that either completely works for you or makes you go, “What the hell was that?” And that’s kind of who Yorgos is as a filmmaker. But goddamn, was this great.

4. Olivia Colman

So yeah, obviously the three major components of this movie are the three leads, and I’m going to just shout them all out, because they’re the reason this works. We’ll start with Colman, who had the showiest and arguably easiest role to play, just because she gets less screen time and gets to be more over the top in her actions. She’s the scene-stealer here, and she’s wonderful. It’s such an incredible performance that you get both the funny stuff and all the heartbreaking emotional stuff about this character, who lost what is it, 15 children? It’s tremendous work.

3. Rachel Weisz

I chose this moment in particular for Weisz because the beauty of her performance comes in what she isn’t saying. She is the one who as quietly amassed all this power within the realm, and she knows when to strike and how to strike when she does. And this moment is so wonderful. It’s when she comes back to find Emma Stone and Olivia Colman hanging out together without her. And her eyes flash this moment of just death for a moment, before softening when she finally speaks. Because in that moment, you can see her immediately see the threat, but know that attacking it here will do her no good, so she plays it off politely and just waits for another moment to make her move. It’s absolutely wonderful. She’s probably the best performance in the movie, but this is all about subjectivity, so I’ve got her in the middle. If I really were smart, I’d have put Colman in the middle of the other two to mirror the film. But honestly, these numbers don’t matter. We’re just talking about the awesome aspects of the film. It’s all good.

2. Emma Stone

That chortle is so good. There’s no way that was in the script as specific as how she played it. That is a moment that is so specific to her and how she portrayed this woman that it had to be the moment I shouted out for that photo. But everything about her performance is wonderful, because here’s another character with such pain in her past who is struggling just to find a place for herself and a footing within the world she can grab onto. So while she’s doing all this awful and underhanded stuff, you also get a complete explanation as to why she’s doing it. And the way Stone plays it is just perfect all the way through. All three central performances in this movie are perfect.

1. The refreshening of a genre

This genre was basically dead. Look at Mary Queen of Scots this year. No one gave a shit, it wasn’t overly interesting, and it felt stale. It felt like, and I know I’m reaching back… you had these 60s period pieces like Becket and A Man for All Seasons and The Lion in Winter, and then you had the actual Mary Queen of Scots movie in 1971 with Vanessa Redgrave, and that just felt flat and coming too little too late. But this movie completely blows the doors off the expectations of the genre and showed you don’t have to do it the way everyone did it for all those years. It could be different and it could work another way. However, the way they did this is so specific I’m not sure they’ll be able to replicate it. Kind of like how when Deadpool worked you thought, “Oh god, they’re gonna try to do all these R-rated superhero movies now to try to copy Deadpool and they’re not gonna realize how specific that movie is to that character.” But still… it cannot be understated how much this movie makes this genre feel alive again. Now hopefully someone will take the torch and run with it for something else.

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