Yorgos Lanthimos’ “The Favourite,” a historical drama set during the reign of Queen Anne, will kick off the 56th New York Film Festival. The Fox Searchlight title will make its New York debut (careful wording that suggests the film will premiere at another North American festival such as Telluride.) It is already expected to screen in Venice.
“The Favourite” follows the court wranglings of Sarah Churchill, the Duchess of Marlborough (Rachel Weisz) and her servant Abigail Hill (Emma Stone) as they jockey for position with Queen Anne (Olivia Colman). Lanthimos has an off-beat kind of humor and an avant-garde edge, previously highlighted in films such as “The Lobster” and “Killing of a Sacred Deer.” “The Favourite” is unlikely to be a typically staid costume drama.
“’The Favourite’ is a lot of things at once, each of them perfectly meshed: a historical epic; a visual feast; a wild, wild ride; a formidable display of the art of acting from Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone, and Olivia Colman, abetted by a brilliant cast; a tour de force from Yorgos Lanthimos. And… it’s a blast,” New York Film Festival director and selection committee chair Kent Jones said in a statement.
The film will screen at Alice Tully Hall on Sept. 28. It opens in theaters on Nov. 23, and will likely factor into the Oscar race. The New York Film Festival is presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center. The lineup for the annual celebration of cinema is beginning to take shape. Last week, the festival announced that Alfonso Cuaron’s family drama “Roma” has been set as the Centerpiece movie and will screen on Oct. 5.
Opening night films have been hit-and-miss. Last year, the New York Film Festival kicked off with “Last Flag Flying,” a Richard Linklater dramedy that came-and-went without making much of a stir, and in 2015, the festival opened with “The Walk,” a huge Robert Zemeckis bomb. But there have also been highpoints. Previous opening night films have featured the Oscar-nominated likes of “13th,” “Gone Girl,” and “Life of Pi.”