the FAvourite (Yorgos Lanthimos) is a magnificently pissy comedy of manners set in the court of Queen Anne (Olivia Colman), where the powerful Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) finds her position threatened by the arrival of the penniless but charming Abigail (Emma Stone), whom the snotty parliamentarian Harley (Nicholas Hoult) wishes to use as a lever for his own ambitions. After the poisonous rigour of The Lobster and The Killing Of A Sacred Deer, this feels like Lanthimos is letting himself loosen up: all the characters in The Favourite are awful, but that just means we can enjoy the plotting and scheming without guilt. (Which isn’t to say that some of these characters don’t deserve to suffer more than others, and do.) All three leads are having the very best time, trading veiled insults with crack timing – and occasionally revealing the rage beneath a courtier’s protocol. Stone’s good, Weisz is better and Colman is best, her alternately imperious and miserably self-pitying monarch as much a victim as any of her subjects. And Hoult, Joe Alwyn and Mark Gatiss are the feckless dicks trying to impose themselves on these women, convinced they know best and almost certainly wrong. 119 min. nnnn (Norman Wilner)
The Favourite’s Rachel Weisz (left) and Olivia Colman deserve all the pre-Oscar buzz.