Olivia Colman wins best actress award at Venice film festival

British star honoured for her role as Queen Anne in Yorgos Lanthimos’s comedy The Favourite

Olivia Colman has been named best actress at the Venice film festival for her role as a frail and volatile Queen Anne in the quirky period comedy The Favourite. Her performance has been described as showing “career-best form”. The film’s Greek director, Yorgos Lanthimos, also cast Colman in his first English-language film, The Lobster, a black comedy, for which she won best supporting actress at the British Independent film awards for her role as the hotel manager.

In The Favourite, Colman stars opposite Rachel Weisz, who plays her close friend Sarah Churchill, who has to put up with the queen’s mercurial temper, and Emma Stone as Sarah’s cousin Abigail. The film also won the grand jury prize, the festival’s second-most prestigious.

The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw said in his review of The Favourite that Colman “couldn’t get any better”, adding: “She steps up to movie-star lead status with an uproarious performance as Britain’s needy and emotionally wounded Queen Anne in this bizarre black comedy of the 18th-century court, a souped-up and sweary quasi-Restoration romp full of intrigue and plotting – with wigs, clavichords and long corridors to storm down.”

Colman, 44, is shortly due to take on another royal role in the third season of the Netflix drama The Crown, when she takes over from Claire Foy in the lead role of Queen Elizabeth.

For the first time, Netflix won – with the film Roma – the Golden Lion for best picture, sealing the streaming service’s reputation as a big name in arthouse movies. The film is named after the neighbourhood in Mexico City where writer-director Alfonso Cuarón grew up. In Spanish and shot in black and white, it focuses almost exclusively on female characters: Cuarón’s mother and the two maids who helped raise him.

The film was widely praised by critics for its cinematography. Cuaron said the award and the festival were “incredibly important to me” and noted that the prize came on the birthday of the woman on whose life Roma is based.

Willem Dafoe won the best actor award for his role as the artist Vincent van Gogh in the biopic At Eternity’s Gate.

Jennifer Kent, the only female director in the main competition, won the special jury prize for the bloody revenge thriller The Nightingale. Its male lead, Baykali Ganambarr, won the award for best up-and-coming actor or actress.


Lin Jenkins

The GuardianTramp

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