Period Dramas: More Than Oscar Bait

Period dramas; a realm in which Keira Knightley has reigned supreme since she was cast in Joe Wright’s wartime drama, Atonement in 2007; and has starred in eight period films since then. Period films are a rarely discussed staple of cinema. At least one appears each year, and they often are created for Oscar bait or to fill the gaps in the slower months of film releases. This is all just setup for me to discuss three films that are currently in production, and their trailers that appeared out of nowhere. With lush atmosphere, intricate costumes, big name actors, and unique and compelling storylines, I hope to see large box office booms for all three.

Number one is a film call The Favourite directed by Yorgos Lanthimos and written by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara . Set in eighteenth century England, while England is once again at war with France, the film follows Queen Anne, played by Olivia Colman, in a delicate state of mind and health; and her close companion, Lady Sarah, (Rachel Weiz). Their normal routine of duck racing, pageantry and general frivolity is interrupted by the arrival of Lady Sarah’s cousin, Abigail Masham, played by Emma Stone. The film is an absurdist take on the time period and the rivalry between two woman vying for the number one spot as the Queen’s Favourite.

Number two is Colette directed by Wash Westmoreland. Colette follows the life of a young farm-girl (Keira Knightley), who marries a wealthy author, Henry Gauthier-Villars, played by Dominic West. Although they begin life quite happily in the honeymoon stage, things begin to spiral swiftly downhill, when Colette ghost-writes a book for her husband’s brand that becomes an instant success. Struggling to cope with the jealousy of her husband taking credit for her work, Colette begins to crumble. The film chronicles the rise of a woman created by her husband’s fantasies. He encourages her in her romantic feelings toward other women. Meanwhile, he carries on his own affairs and introduces Colette to a world of culture, avant-garde works, artistry, and passion presented to her by Bohemian France. Henry is then somehow blindsided when his wife begins to find her own voice within this world. The film is based on the real life events that transpired between Henry and Colette and promises to be a delectable feast for the filmgoer.

The third film is a historical drama following the lives of Mary Queen of Scotts and Elizabeth the First. It is directed by Josie Rourke, and is loosely based on the biography written by John Guy. Although following both Elizabeth and Mary the film is titled Mary Queen of Scots. What initially begins as a unification between the two most powerful and beloved women in Europe, transforms into a bitter rivalry that turns the strongest against one another. The film stars Saoirse Ronan in the titular role, and Margot Robbie as Elizabeth. Premiering a year after the final season of the historically inaccurate and sensationalized television drama Reign, which followed the supposed life of Mary Queen of Scots, viewers are finally given the joy of seeing a red haired Mary. There is already backlash against the film because of an apparent scene where Elizabeth and Mary meet. To those who would cry out against the film for one anachronistic scene, I point to the disgrace and disappointment that is Reign. Surround by lush European scenery and oscar nominees Margot Robbie and Saoirse Ronin at the helm, Mary Queen of Scott promises to be an epic historical drama that fulfills our heart’s desires.

So with the banquet of historical period dramas laid before you, check out their trailers, and choose wisely.