Reel Reviews: Oscar talk starts

By on January 16, 2019

‘The Favourite’

With the holiday movie hangover coming to an end, it’s time to look at some serious movies. Or, well, movies in serious contention for Oscar nominations.*

I never claim to be a voice for historical accuracy when it comes to period films, but something is awry in 18th century England. Right out of the gates the entire theater knew “The Favourite” was not going to be some average, droll, and snooty period piece as Abigail (Emma Stone) meets with some rather filthy circumstances on her way to meet her cousin, Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz). Lady Sarah runs the Queen’s estate (if not the entirety of England) and provides the edging-on-destitute Abigail with employment.

Meanwhile, Queen Anne’s health and sanity are failing, and with Lady Sarah, she finds not only a lifelong confidant but a paramour as well.

As war with France wages on and luxurious frivolity runs rampant in the estate, a political divide ensues between Lady Sarah, the hawk, and Robert Harley (Nicholas Hoult, “The Current War”), the dove. Sarah’s dedication to running the Queen’s estate opens time for Abigail to befriend Anne, and in turn move up the ladder of societal rank. This is supposedly a true tale of a love triangle with the monarchy.

Many of the history buffs I have spoken with about “The Favourite” cannot stand the movie. I feel like this film should come with a disclaimer: Warning, this movie at its foremost effort is bizarre entertainment and should not be considered a true representation of historical facts. Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos has never been one to shy away from the avant-garde, and is described as “notorious for a wild imagination and a sometimes aggressive form of absurdism”**

You need to know this before seeing “The Favourite.” For the record, I loved this movie.

Emma Stone stars alongside Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman in “The Favourite.” While it may be lacking in historical accuracy, reviewer Michael Upton loved it.

‘Mary Queen of Scots’

So, I figured while I was in merry old England why not catch up with what three-time Oscar-nominated actress Saoirse Ronan is doing in “Mary Queen of Scots,” where she plays the Stuart heir to the English throne upon which already sits Queen Elizabeth I (Margot Robbie, “I, Tonya”).

“The entire story needs more time than any two-hour movie can cover,” writes Julie G. of Ephrata. “We thought it was a little choppy and confusing if you didn’t already know the backstory.”

In my opinion, “Mary Queen of Scots” simply flatlines. There’s no real arc of action, no thrilling crescendo, and no epic denouement. The movie just goes on and on for 124 minutes, and we suffer by having to endure Mary’s suffering. This isn’t a bad movie, only its most noticeable reactions are boredom and frustration. Not every movie can be a happy love story.

“I want to see Mary Queen of Scots. Just doesn’t look like movie-theater-worthy…will wait,” writes Michelle T. of Lancaster.

That’s a safe move. And I’m not sure how the Academy is going to feel about this movie. Ronan is a “darling” and her performance is strong, but I feel a nomination will be just that once again, only a nomination (if at all). Robbie’s performance is stronger and merits a nomination for best supporting actress for sure. This movie could also get costume and makeup recognition from the Academy.

*Oscar nominations are announced January 22.

**Jonathan Romney, The Guardian.

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