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Recapping the greatest roles of The Favourite star Olivia Colman


It's official: the brilliant Olivia Colman has won her first Oscar and hit the big time with her brilliantly entertaining performance as Queen Anne in The Favourite.

Colman has drawn widespread acclaim for her grotesque yet sympathetic portrayal of the ailing British monarch, one manipulated by her court suitors (played by the superb duo of Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone). Colman's astute mixture of razor-sharp comic timing and subtle pathos is, many critics have agreed, the focal point of director Yorgos Lanthimos's terrifically dark period comedy.

So, in honour of Colman's career-best turn in The Favourite, we're recapping the many memorable roles that have led her to this point...

1. Peep Show (2003-2015)

From Mitchell and Webb to Hollywood stardom in The Favourite: there's no denying that Colman's career trajectory is extraordinary, and highly deserved. Yet for many, she'll continue to be remembered as the alternately despairing and sympathetic partner of David Mitchell's tightly-wound Mark in this groundbreaking Channel 4 sitcom, one filmed entirely from the point of view of its protagonists.

Picking a favourite moment from across nine series' of Peep Show is incredibly hard – suffice it to say, every one of Colman's appearances embodies her formidable ability to be hysterically funny yet poignantly human at the same time.

2. Green Wing (2004-2006)

Smack the Pony creator Victoria Pile's deliriously surreal hospital sitcom drew on a massive ensemble cast of terrific British comedy actors for its impact. Trust us, if you're looking to get better, this is the last hospital you want to end up in – unless you believe in the healing power of laughter.

Amid a formidable cast of scene-stealers (Tamsin Greig, Mark Heap and Michelle Gomez are oddball standouts), Colman's relatively grounded performance as scatty HR assistant Harriet manages to resonate as one of the show's most loveable. With her malfunctioning love life and tendency to forget her kids on the school run, Harriet emerged as one of the most relatable characters in the series.

3. Hot Fuzz (2007)

Edgar Wright's riotously funny action-comedy (imagine a mash-up of Lethal Weapon and Midsomer Murders) continued his collaboration with regulars Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright, following their triumphant Shaun of the Dead.

The movie takes well-aimed pot-shots at rural British life and policing, as hard-nosed Sergeant Angel (Pegg) comes face to face with his new, somewhat lackadaisical team in the picturesque village of Sandford. While the duo of Paddy Considine and Rafe Spall may steal the show as the cynical, foul-mouthed pair of Andys, let's reserve a mention for Colman as the saucy Doris – master of the filthy, immaculately timed innuendo. It proves Colman is terrific at fashioning a lot out of a little.

4. Tyrannosaur (2011)

Having built a reputation off the back of wry comic performances, Colman demonstrated her formidable dramatic abilities in this shattering British drama.

Directed by Colman's Hot Fuzz co-star Paddy Considine (here making a striking debut feature), it's a disquieting tale of domestic abuse that finds grace and compassion in downtrodden lives. Colman is incredibly moving as Hannah, a woman suffering appalling treatment at the hands of her husband James (Eddie Marsan), yet who, despite her situation, has enough of a moral backbone to forge a redemptive connection with the equally troubled alcoholic Joseph (Peter Mullan).

It was the first sign that Colman, far from just the comic foil in Peep Show and Green Wing, was shaping up as one of the UK's finest actors.

5. The Iron Lady (2012)

Of course, Meryl Streep snagged all the plaudits (and the Best Actress Oscar) for her uncanny portrayal of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in this controversial biopic.

But studded throughout the background of this simplistic take on Thatcher's life are a host of ubiquitous British scene-stealers. Chief among them is Colman, replete with fake nose and somewhat plummy accent, as Thatcher's daughter, Carol, who emerges as a sympathetic ear during the scenes featuring the elder, ailing Margaret. It's a humbling reminder that even the most divisive leader needs the comforting embrace of family during their darkest moments.

6. Broadchurch (2013-2015)

ITV's critically acclaimed crime drama spawned three series and a US spin-off – and Colman's agonised performance is the beating heart of the British iteration.

Created by Chris Chibnall and set in the fictional Dorset town of the title, Broadchurch examines the impact of an appalling crime both on the local community and the investigating police officers. David Tennant may be the relatively bigger name but the emotional fireworks reside with Colman as the increasingly conflicted DS Ellie Miller, whose proximity to the events ultimately has a devastating impact.

As a result, Colman found herself nominated for a BAFTA in 2014, a sure sign of how affecting audiences found her portrayal.

7. Hyde Park on Hudson (2013)

This overlooked period drama focuses on the relationship between US President Franklin D. Roosevelt (Bill Murray) and his sixth cousin Margaret 'Daisy' Suckley (Laura Linney).

Although the Murray-Linney relationship drives the narrative, Colman is an important, lively presence, playing Britain's Queen Elizabeth who pays a visit to Roosevelt at his country estate, Hyde Park.

Forgoing parody and melodrama, Colman makes this British monarch more of an amusing fish out of water amid her American surroundings.

8. The Lobster (2015)

In her first collaboration with The Favourite film-maker Yorgos Lanthimos, Colman again proves her mastery of the scene-stealing supporting role.

This twisted anti-romantic story is a fable about people who are destined to turn into animals should they not find their life partner within 45 days. The film's funniest and best moments are in the first half, Lanthimos eliciting plenty of British social commentary from the confines of the hotel in which the potentially doomed lovebirds find themselves contained.

Colman grabs some of the greatest moments as the deadpan, straight-talking hotel manager, who compliments Colin Farrell's lobster-aspiring average joe for not choosing a dog ("We're overrun with them") as his animal avatar. Plus, she does a hysterically strange karaoke version of pop classic 'Something's Gotten Hold Of My Heart'.

9. The Night Manager (2016)

Tom Hiddleston may have been the suave leading man in this acclaimed John Le Carre espionage adaptation, but it was Colman who stood out for her role as intelligence operative Angela Burr. As with co-stars Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie, Colman nabbed a Golden Globe (her first) for her memorable role as British intelligence operative Angela.

Taking what could have been a dull role and investing it with overtones of emotion and nuance, Colman further cemented her reputation as a performer of formidable repute. 

Click here to book your tickets for The Favourite and let us know your favourite Olivia Colman roles @Cineworld.