This has to be one of the most memorable movies of 2018.
Sarah Churchill, in real life, rose from genteel poverty to be the powerhouse who created her own palace, parlayed her position and acumen to generate a fortune, worth billions in today's money, and founded a dynasty which gave Britain Winston Churchill and Diana Spenser.
She died, said Tobias Smollett, "immensely rich and very little regretted, either by her own family or the world in general".
In thi,s movie she is cast with two other memorable women, who play the parts of Queen Anne and Abigail Masham, who, despite having been plucked from obscurity by Sarah Churchill, successfully replaces her in the Queen's affections.
Colman is superb as the eccentric, emotionally damaged Queen, whose seventeen pregnancies have failed to produce a living heir. The screenplay fleshes out the speculation that her relationships with Sarah and then Abigail were rather more than platonic, and many of the scenes showing the British court of the early eighteenth century are graphic and confronting. Life can indeed be "nasty, brutish and short".
It is as if some of the more shocking scenes from Peter Greenaway (The Draftsman's Contract) were merged with Vanity Fair's scheming Becky Sharpe and the naked pursuit of power as portrayed in The Madness of King George.
The script is engaging and clever, as politicians and courtiers struggle for at best dominance, at worst survival. While trying to avoid spoilers, I'll simply say that there are several scenes of boorishness and casual cruelty, which are as convincing as they are repulsive.
Tories and Whigs are locked in combat over the War of the Spanish Succession and the repulsively boorish leader of the opposition recruits Abigail as a conduit to the Queen.
I had expected to single out Emma Stone – and she is superb as the unremittingly ambitious beautiful psychopath – but all three women are wonderful.
All three actresses have been nominated for awards by the Screen Actors' Guild, and Oscars are highly probable. Even if you only go to a few movies a year, this should be one of them.