Best Actress of the Decade, Entry No 3: Olivia Colman

To celebrate the last decade 2010-2019, we are counting down the best actresses and discussing some of their most notable and memorable performances of the decade. With the help of Film Twitter, the ITOL team has selected 30 actresses. Writer Joan Amenn writes about Entry No. 3 Olivia Colman and her performance in “The Favourite”.

By Joan Amenn

Oscars are not typically bestowed on first time nominees but there is a small group of actors who can claim the achievement of having won for their first recognition by the Academy. Last year Olivia Colman joined the roster of these winners for her portrayal of Queen Anne in “The Favorite” (2018). With the help of her supporting cast of Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone, she gives an electric performance that is larger than life and vulnerable at the same time.

Mel Brooks may believe “it’s good to be the King” but it was a daily struggle for Anne to be Queen of England in the 18th century. Isolated with no husband or children she looks to her childhood friend, Lady Sarah Churchill (yes, a distant ancestor to Winston) for advice and consolation. Colman seems child-like in her dependence on her confidante for everything from handling her household finances to tending to her personally when she is ill.

oliver
Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman in The Favourite (2018) © 2018 – Fox Searchlight

Oscars are not typically bestowed on first time nominees but there is a small group of actors who can claim the achievement of having won for their first recognition by the Academy. Last year Olivia Colman joined the roster of these winners for her portrayal of Queen Anne in “The Favorite” (2018).

Weisz plays Sarah as a political operative who would have been formidable in her own right in the twenty first century. She seems to gradually resent having to not only be supportive of the Queen but also her husband, Lord Marlborough. The introduction of Abigail Hill (Stone) to court and her ascension as the Queen’s new favorite only exasperated the underlying tensions that were building up between the two strong willed old friends and bring them to a head.

Colman is a dizzying rollercoaster of emotions on screen. One moment she is pouting and the next she is warmly maternal to the many rabbits she keeps in her private rooms as pets. She is frail but strong in her demand for respect from her cabinet as she directs a war with Spain. Colman’s Anne knows how to play into the expectations of her male cabinet as well which she shows in one scene where she simply pretends to faint rather than go through with a difficult speech.

the favourite
Olivia Colman in The Favourite (2018) © 2018 – Fox Searchlight

The film implies that Anne’s biggest asset was that those around her continually underestimated her. Colman leaves no doubt that despite illness, loneliness and a mercurial temper, she is more than capable of running a country. It was Anne who first ruled over England, Ireland and Scotland as one United Kingdom. Even if her personal life at court was tied up in messy knots of intrigue and petty backstabbing, Colman convinces us that Anne was determined to serve her people well.

Now that she has won the Oscar, Colman has gone on to play another Queen in the series, “The Crown.” However, she is too talented to be typecast in only one kind of role. She has also received acclaim for her part in the comedy series, “Fleabag.” She is as riveting being silly as she is being regal, and we cannot wait to see more of her onscreen very soon.

What’s your favourite performance by Olivia Colman? Let us know in the comments below.

1 comment

  1. Favourite performance by Olivia Colman: Tyrannosaur.
    It‘s one of the best films I have ever seen and Colman is absolutely incredible as Hannah – mesmerizing, heartbreaking and hopeful.

    Liked by 1 person

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