Alex Kolpan’s review published on Letterboxd:
Post rating this five stars, I'm sitting here thinking to myself: "Dude, you've given some very high ratings this year. Are the high ratings due to you getting soft with your scale or has 2018 just been an incredible year for movies?"
I'd have to go with the latter. That's not to say I'm always 100% objective with the overall technical quality of a film, but some shit you just love so much you can overlook their flaws. However, The Favourite happens to be one of those rare perfect movies, where every facet of the production is completely flawless.
From the set/costume designs, to Robbie Ryan's cinematography (those 6mm fisheye lenses - WHOSE IDEA WAS THAT AND WHY IS IT SO GENIUS), to the lighting (Yorgos is definitely flexing his love for Barry Lyndon with all those candles + all those night sequences are so wonderfully noisy), and don't even get me started on the acting.
Emma Stone as Abigail and Rachel Weisz as Sarah Churchill slyly snake their way through every situation (which is no small feat considering how restricted they are in each individual scenario) redirecting energy and mood to manipulate their way to get the outcome they most desire. By the end of the film, there's a sense that some manipulation is more necessary and truthful then what we might've initially suspected. Certain power dynamics are inevitably more important than what you might have initially felt opposition towards. Sometimes emotional conservatism is necessary in order to maintain, even if those oppressed don't rise up in the way you wish. Bunnies run amok, badgers know we're stuck in the muck. Liberation comes in many forms, but you must be careful once you are liberated as to not let your mission fall to the wayside. Wars must always be fought, decisions must always be made that affect the lives of millions. Someone will always lose in order for someone to win. Which brings us to Olivia Colman's "Anne, Queen of Great Britian" -- the confounding centerpiece to all the chaos.
It's hard to say who I think gave a better performance this year between Toni Colette in "Hereditary" and Olivia Colman in "The Favourite" but I think Colman might just have Colette beat due to just how dynamic she is in this. Anne comes off as a sort of pathetic hag at first where literally everything seems to be hurting her in some way. She's constantly crying out in pain as if she has Munchhausen Syndrome or something culminating in a brilliant scene early on where her servants lay tender meat on her skin to heal her -- it's glorious. But the real punch from her character comes within a well choreographed dance sequence that's absolutely hysterical until the camera cuts to a close-up of Anne who has clearly become incapable of enjoying anything anymore, and her negative feelings become even more exacerbated and sad as she realizes that everyone else is enjoying the festivities except for her. It's a truly heartbreaking and revealing moment -- on par with a latter scene in which she tells Abigail why she has exactly 17 rabbits. These emotional beats compliment the persistent, darkly comedic tone throughout The Favourite, in a way that never once comes off as jarring.
Yorgos Lanthimos, I don't know how you do it dude, but please for the love of cinema, keep this track record up. You're on track to become one of the very best.