101 Greatest Screenplays of the 21st Century (*so far)

Twenty years before it reached the screen, The Favourite began as a first draft by aspiring screenwriter Deborah Davis, who extensively researched the story of two women who battled for position in the court of Queen Anne circa 1711. As Anne drifts into derangement, her friend and lover Sarah remains steadfast. Then Sarah unsuspectingly welcomes her ambitious cousin Abigail to Anne’s court, only to watch Abigail methodically usurp Sarah’s position. In the script’s bleak final scenes, however, it becomes clear that no one emerges from this conflict unscathed. Davis’s material caught the interest of director Yorgos Lanthimos, who hired TV veteran Tony McNamara for a rethink of the script; McNamara’s mandate included surfacing qualities that would resonate with contemporary audiences. The script wrought from Davis’s and McNamara’s combined sensibilities is a funny, poignant, and suspenseful examination of shifting dynamics between women.