As anyone remotely interested in cinema would know, “The Favourite,” a drama about three women in 18th-century England, became a frontrunner in the film world recently. The film, which was directed by Yorgos Lanthimos and stars Olivia Colman, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz, tied with “Roma” for the most Oscar nominations, with a groundbreaking 10 each. Colman won the Academy Award for best actress as well, for her role as the queen. The unconventional film appealed to many due to its exquisite costumes and breakout performances from the three female stars.
It’s considered one of Lanthimos’ best films, and certainly is the most successful of them all. Although “The Favourite” is more mainstream than his other films, it still carries the same eerie humor as his other works. Lanthimos proved that he’s an up-and-coming director this year, and if you enjoyed “The Favourite,” you should do yourself a favor and check out his other films.
The director is originally from Athens, Greece, and often refers to Greek mythology in his films. He has received four Academy Award nominations for his films, including best director and best picture. Aside from directing movies, he has directed TV commercials, dance and music videos, short films and plays. He is also a photographer.
If you enjoy scary, psychological movies, then you need to add Lanthimos’ “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” to your watch list. Although deeply disturbing, the film was enthralling in a way that most mainstream cinema is not. The film, which premiered in 2017, stars Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman as the successful suburban parents of two children. Farrell plays a cardiac surgeon who made a mistake that threatens to affect his entire family. Barry Keoghan plays a troubled teenager who has deep ties to Farrell, which end cause severe implications in both of their lives.
The film is inspired by the Greek myth of Iphigenia. There are many versions of the myth, but the main premise is that when the Greek leader Agamemnon was planning to send a fleet to sail to Troy, he accidentally killed a deer in a grove that is sacred to the Goddess of the Hunt, Artemis. She punishes him by foiling his plans, and he seeks out wisdom from a seer. The seer tells him that in order to in order to counter Artemis’ punishment, he must sacrifice his daughter, Iphigenia. At first he refuses, but starts to reconsider when his situation becomes unbearable.
Lanthimos uses this myth and turns it into a more contemporary, suburban story. The result is an unsettling, modern take on the myth that leaves viewers sitting in awe long after the movie ends. Although I won’t spoil the film for readers by giving too much away, Lanthimos touches upon issues of love, trust and regret in this dark cautionary tale.
Many of his films feature a similar kind of acting, as he’s known for characters that speak in a monotonousness way with a dry sense of humor. He favors the dark, unknown areas of the human mind, and stretches his audiences’ imagination in each of his films. His films are a mixture of drama, horror and comedy that leave viewers not knowing how to feel about what they’ve just seen.
Another standout film from Lanthimos is “The Lobster.” The movie premiered in 2016, and again stars Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz. Although it’s considered a comedy, the film is extremely dark, and could be seen as more of a drama.
The premise of the movie centers around a dystopian future, where single people are taken to a place called “The Hotel,” and must find a partner in 45 days. If they don’t, they face the consequence of turning into an animal of their choosing and are sent into “The Woods.”
The film focuses on Farrell’s character aiming to find a match, with both disturbing and humorous repercussions. The two parties must have something in common in order to create a suitable match. Although it verges on the absurd, the movie deals with very real issues about love and humanity.
“The Lobster” is left opened-ended, as are Lanthimos’ other films. These endings leave the viewer to contemplate what the film meant to them, and what messages they got out of the often confusing and discombobulating movies. Part of Lanthimos’ genius is leaving the audience feeling uncomfortable yet yearning for more. His films are works of art that are not necessarily meant to be fully understood.
Although “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” and “The Lobster” are both dark and absurdist, these same elements made “The Favourite” so successful. All three of these films cover complicated topics such as life, death and love in an artistic and aesthetically pleasing way. The acting in Lanthimos’ films is superb, from the voices all the way to the costumes of the characters. The director casts well-known actresses and actors along with those who are lesser known, creating a vibrant, yet cohesive cast.
Lanthimos is a director to keep your eye on in the upcoming years. His three best movies have been filmed in the last three years, which means more outstanding films should be expected from him in the near future. Recently, it was revealed that Lanthimos is working on his next project, an adaption of Jim Thompson’s 1964 crime novel “Pop. 1280.” The book follows a small-town sheriff in the Deep South.
Although his use of dark humor and surreal narratives often polarizes audiences, his films are more original than many of the other blockbusters that premiere each year. With “The Favourite,” Lanthimos proved that he can make movies that appeal to a wider audience. Whether he chooses to go that route in his upcoming films, or decides to stick to the absurd, is a question fans will just have to wait to find out. If you enjoyed “The Favourite” and aren’t afraid to explore more mind-boggling films, Lanthimos is a director you should become acquainted with.