• Liam De Brún

The Crown Returns: 8 Definitive Queen Elizabeth II Performances Ranked.

Updated: 2 days ago

The Crown is back for another season on Netflix. Everyone put on their best crown and get ready to spend your lonely winter nights with everyone’s favourite family.

Oscar-winner Olivia Colman returns for her second season as Queen Elizabeth II. Claire Foy, who played Elizabeth in the first two seasons, and Olivia Coleman have given what are arguably the two definitive performances as the icon. Yet, what about all the other women (and man) who played the Queen? Are the two more recent performances better or are we showing major recency bias? Join me, Liam De Brún), as I rank the eight definitive Queen Elizabeth II performances from worst to best.

8: Cate Blanchett – Family Guy

The lowest point for anyone is being parodied by Family Guy. The joke is that Peter tries to steal the Queen’s hair, but accidentally kills her in the process. It’s just another day of the American cartoon trying to shock its fans instead of writing intelligent comedy. Cate Blanchett voices Elizabeth, although she only gets one line. The two time Oscar winner should know better than to lower herself to Seth MacFarlane’s obnoxious circus. It doesn’t get worse than this.

7: Eddie Izzard – The Simpsons

To Surveil With Love is remembered for the infamously awful opening where The Simpsons theme is replaced with a Ke$ha song. You have to wait to the end of a bog-standard episode of a show well past its prime to see Queen Elizabeth. Portrayed by Eddie Izzard, it’s revealed that her majesty is an avid fan of the people of Springfield. For a name as big as Izzard it’s a disappointing cameo. Izzard is known for his shock humour that always stirs a reaction. To see him merely reading lines off a script is a major disappointment. Had this appearance come in the golden years of the show, the writers would have surely given him more to work with.

6: Jennifer Saunders – Minions

Minions fatigue had been around for years before the Minions movie. The yellow dudes in the dungarees are bearable in small doses. A 90-minute feature film focused on them was excruciating. Some critics lost their minds over having to review an advertisement disguised as a film. One would think that would cement Jennifer Saunders bottom of the list. If we’re talking quality of the product then absolutely. However, against all the odds Saunders is an oddly fun version of the Queen. If you ever wanted to see her majesty beating up a minion, this is the film for you. Saunders uses her distinct voice to bring a wicked sense of humour to a woman who normally portrayed as rather stoic. There’s no word yet if the Absolutely Fabulous star will return for the upcoming sequel.

5: Freya Wilson – The King’s Speech

As the more time passes from The King’s Speech Oscar win, the weirder that decision becomes. While boasting terrific performances from Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush, the film on a whole isn’t spectacular. It lacks the timelessness of the film’s it beat. You’ll hear Inception, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, and Black Swan mentioned a dozen times before anyone mentions Tom Hooper’s film. The film provides a fascinating insight into Elizabeth’s father, as he battles his speech impediment. Many forget how difficult a task Freya Wilson had playing Elizabeth as a child. Wilson uses her minimal screen-time to portray the future leader as hesitant towards her father. The circumstances around her upbringing and relationship with her father, add layers to a woman who many assume is reserved for no reason.

4: Sarah Gadon – A Royal Night Out

The underseen A Royal Night Out, gave the world a queen unlike any we had before. The romantic comedy sees Sarah Gadon play a teenage Elizabeth back when she was a princess. Along with her sister Margaret, played by Bel Powley, the pair sneak out of Buckingham Palace to enjoy the VE Day celebrations. After being locked up for six years due to the war. Seeing the sisters embrace the fun of a post-war London is joyous. When the pair get separated early on in the film, the spotlight is mainly on Margaret. Elizabeth spends the film with Jack Reynor’s airman who guides her through the city in her pursuit of her sister. Gadon plays Elizabeth as poised and responsible. Gadon is wonderful as she slowly allows her mask to slip, to give audiences a glimpse of a young Elizabeth who dreams of mischief like any other girl. This feel-good film is guaranteed to brighten anyone’s lockdown.

3: Claire Foy – The Crown

The first two seasons of The Crown put one of the best actresses working today on the map. Claire Foy is now a star thanks to her performance as Elizabeth coping with her lighting fast rise to the top. Foy is excellent as a woman struggling to adjust to her newfound mantel. Foy manages to humanise possibly the hardest person in the world to relate to. It’s easy to assume that becoming the most powerful woman in the world at 27 years old would lead to a dream life. That just isn’t the case with Elizabeth. Foy has the rare gift of being able to act with her eyes alone. One look at her pupils tells you exactly what Elizabeth is thinking. Foy’s electric chemistry with Matt Smith, who plays Philip, makes it impossible for the show to ever top these early seasons. Philip’s arrogance makes Elizabeth’s life a living hell at times. Foy displays the skills of a much more experienced actress in a role that led her to an Emmy win. The first two seasons of The Crown are up there with any show from the glorious 2010s.

2: Olivia Colman – The Crown

Replacing Claire Foy is a task that only an actress of Olivia Colman’s caliber could do in her stride. Following her Oscar-winning performance as Queen Anne in The Favourite, Colman makes us wonder if we should just let her play every queen. Set in the 60s and 70s, Coleman’s Elizabeth is a hardened version of the Queen following the drama of the first two seasons. Colman doesn’t even attempt to make Elizabeth likable. She’s more interested in showing her as a woman on a mission to lead Britain to greatness. It’s a hard shift from the wide-eyed Foy. Colman has the screen presence that every actor dreams of having. With the fourth season already being praised as the best season to date, time will tell if the world embraces Colman as the best screen to date. For me, it’s close but there’s one woman who just pips the crown.

1: Hellen Mirren – The Queen

The death of Princess Diana was a moment the entire world hit pause. The people’s princess was beloved by all, to this day you will hear stories of how she influences the lives of many. The Queen tells the story of the controversy surrounding Diana’s death. Elizabeth faced severe backlash for treating her death as a private affair rather than an official Royal death. The legendary Helen Mirren is exceptional as a stubborn Queen who is adamant that she is right. To this day it’s the best portrayal we’ve had of the monarch. Mirren is that good that you have to check to make sure that you’re not watching a documentary. Many movies paint its star as right no matter what the circumstance is. Mirren acts in a manner where the audience can’t constantly root for her. It’s an honest performance that will lead to debates on whether she handled Diane’s death correctly. She comfortably sailed to an Oscar for her iconic performance. It’s a legendary performance that’s yet to be topped. If you’re a fan of The Crown, watch this film straight after your season 4 binge.

For More Netflix Shows To Binge: https://www.themodernathena.com/post/5-female-led-shows-on-netflix-to-binge

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