The Favourite: I don't really care for English period dramas but made an exception because this one was directed by Yorgos Lanthimos of Dog Tooth and Killing of a Sacred Deer fame. I loved it and it's easily the most accessible Yorgos movie plus Olivia Coleman is amazing as Queen Anne. Would not be shocked for her to win an Oscar for Best Actress and to see this movie win Best Picture. Third favorite movie of 2018 with my first still being Sorry to Bother You and second being Mandy. 5 out of 5
Saw this recently too. I agree that it is more accessible than Dogtooth or even The Lobster (I've not seen Deer), but it's still quite a niche film, I think. I find it funny that the advertising presents it as essentially a sort of restoration comedy full of bawdy and witty jokes, intended as a crowd pleaser. And that element is present, but the film plays with those conventions as well. There's a really interesting contrast between the mannered barbs that are thrown around in the presence of the queen, and the vicious nastiness that emerges when the mask slips.
What I think makes the film really great is that it isn't just a bluntly misanthropic vision of cruelty, although there is plenty of cruelty. It also presents a really nuanced exploration of power, and who is allowed to be cruel to whom, and how that cruelty multiplies throughout the court.
As with the Lobster, I think some people will feel they were sold the film on a false prospectus, but also like the Lobster, I think the film is a really fascinating and even handed exploration of the themes in a very tightly controlled way. It never lets itself pull back, and it never shows you something without considering its opposite.
Lots of great acting, too. Obviously Olivia Colman deserves a lot of praise for managing to convincingly portray such a wide range of conflicting personalities in one, and connecting them all in a convincing way. I think less obvious, but still great, is the way that Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone both show changes in their character - Stone moving from Naif (maybe?) to manipulative to outwardly cruel; Weisz moving from cold and domineering, to allowing us to see something of her motivation, to totally desperate. I found the performances incredibly convincing all round, which is especially impressive given that the script is quite broad about the characters in a lot of ways.
The camera work, lighting and mise-en-scene are also absolutely top drawer. A scene of Emma Stone moving around a library, with the camera following her is elevated massively by the lighting and the way the camera is controlled, moving from detailed focus of her face to wide tableau almost instantly. The use of natural lighting also lends a really effective distance between the daytime scenes and the night time machinations of the characters. Great film.