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YNMS: Mary Queen of Scots

by Chris Feil

As promised yesterday, the Mary Queen of Scots trailer has arrived. Think of it like the less demented and much more traditional flip side of an actressy coin to the antics of that trailer for The Favourite. Becauseonce again we've got some heavily costumed fireworks on our hands.

And what take does this version of the oft rehashed history have to offer? The film jumps off from the amicable relationship between Queen Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots, played respectively by last year's Best Actress nominees Margot Robbie and Saoirse Ronan. Then begins a rivalry for the throne, but this film plays handily with the underpinnings of affection both women have for one another and the men underneath their power forcing their hands. As your middle school history books will tell you, it doesn't end well for all parties.

This is one of our more anticipated Oscar players of the season, so all eyes are on what Ronan and Robbie have in store as their awards stars continue to go upward. But will the movie have the goods? Take a look at the new trailer and we'll break down the Yes No Maybe So...


  • One of Ronan's less discussed gifts is her quite formiddable rage and this looks like it will bring that side of her talent front and center.
  • It may not have been what was intended, but the campy majesty at play here is the most delicious of candy. Wig reveals, catchphrases, instant memes. When will your heir to the throne fav?
  • Men are always the most boring parts of these kinds of costume dramas. Keep them on the sidelines.
  • A more personal angle for the narrative is probably what is needed here for the film to stand out among the story's many takes over the years. It isn't always easy to make us care about historical figures such as these, so I'm happy the film is going for it.
  • The powerhouse moments in that showdown scene!!


  • There is a noticeable amount of... dare I say... chintziness at play? Costuming that doesn't quite look appropriate, hairstyling that isn't quite believable, etc. Almost like high-budget sketch comedy but played seriously? Hmmm...
  • Aside from using the sisterly relationship between Mary and Elizabeth as the narrative vantage, we've seen all of this before. And it looks closer to the bad movies like it than the good ones.
  • A movie that makes me recoil at the site of Guy Pearce? Shame!
  • Do costume dramas really still hold the Oscar sway they once did? Diminishing returns, my friends.


  • Artist Director on the UK theatre's much hurrahed Donmar Warehouse Josie Rourke is making her feature debut here. While strong theatre directors of late have as many misfires as successes on screen, this one has us intrigued.
  • Sure say what you will about the wigs, but the look of the ill Elizabeth promises one haunting Makeup And Hairstyling nominee.
  • The more lingering acting beats (after several several watches of this trailer) belong to Robbie. Most of the push seems to be on Ronan, but could Robbie be the stealth player?

While I am a definite yes for the drama, I'm a MAYBE SO on the film itself. What sayeth ye?

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Reader Comments (45)

I love Ronan, like Robbie, but the bodice-ripping has me thinking The Other Boleyn Girl and, God forbid, we get another one of those.

P.S. "My dear cousin"?

July 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

This feels like a "meh" on the film, but an A+ for performances. Thinking like an old-timey "The Contender"

July 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBen

The Favourite looks fantastic and fun and crazy and brilliant.
-this looks stale as fuck - just another pretty but boring costume drama.
I WILL see it, cause I see everything.
But for this exercise I'm a NO.

July 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterUlrich

Agreed that Robbie looks stronger but Ronan will always deliver and yes to keeping men out of this story.

July 12, 2018 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

I'm always up for a good costume drama, and am very fond of both of these actresses, but ...

At my age I've seen a lot of versions of Queen Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots.
This looks very much like an updated version of the 1971 Mary Queen of Scots, which had Vanessa Redgrave as Mary, and Glenda Jackson as Elizabeth I.

Funny thing is I still think Saoirse Ronan would be better as Elizabeth and Margot Robbie would make a better Mary. Am I the only one who thinks this?

July 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterLadyEdith

It feels like Robbie could earn some points with awards bodies for "deglamming" here, although she sort of did that last year. I'm a yes because I really like both of these actresses, though I wish they were paired in a film that would interest me more (I am not a big fan of pre-20th century costume drama in general - I haven't even seen Elizabeth The Golden Age, much less the 1971 version of this story).

July 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

I don't know I feel so 'been there done that' with seeing this story once again being brought to the screen. Working Title is behind this film, who were also behind Elizabeth and The Golden Age, they hired the same costume designer Alex Byrne for this film as well. And Ronan like Samantha Morton has chosen to play Mary with a Scottish accent. They cast an Australian to play Elizabeth, which they have done before and Saoirse is playing Mary, a part also played by Vanessa Redgrave in a film about this very story. Redgrave and Ronan both played Briony in Working Title's Atonement. Ronan looks like Blanchett's Elizabeth, who she has worked with and looks up to. As does Robbie. Elizabeth was almost a decade older than Mary who was executed at 44 which Ronan and Robbie are not. This to me looks like giving two actresses the opportunity to be like Cate Blanchett. This all feels like the definition of LAZY.

July 12, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterjohn

No for me

July 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph

Robbie has supporting actress if she wants it. Appreciate the background populated with nonwhite Europeans. Period pieces always give the impression nonwhite persons never existed until slavery.

July 12, 2018 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

Spot on perceptions. Robbie looks to have the juicier role but its hard to tell. A firm yes on the sets and makeup.

July 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSawyer

loks fine ...but not in comparison to The Favourite.

July 12, 2018 | Unregistered Commentermurtada

I think only one of the female costume drams makes it and judging by the trailers I think it might just be The Favourite where an out there director makes something critics give kudos too with Oscar following suit.

July 12, 2018 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

I'm with LadyEdith. My first thought on seeing the trailer was that Ronan seemed a far likelier candidate to play Elizabeth. So if Robbie has to be attached, then she becomes Mary by default. Whatever, the trailer makes the movie look like a massive yawn. I've seen tons of Elizabeths and Marys over the years but I must say "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" remains my favorite take. I know critics generally loathed it. But - to my eyes - it was mounted with a sustained and genuinely creative glamour; Blanchett was superb and Samantha Morton, despite maddeningly brief screentime was the most fascinating Mary I've ever seen. Simply riveting. This new take just looks like a been there, seen that edition of Masterpiece Theater.

July 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterKen

They look too young and too modern for their roles. It's like we're seeing Mean Girls: The Golden Age. No.

July 12, 2018 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Hmmmm yeah it’s an underwhelmed maybe-so from me. Looks like it might even be my beloved Ronan’s first big mis-step.

July 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJB

schiller's masterpiece is just waiting there, waiting to be adapted, and they give us this...

July 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterCharles O

I think I’m maybe so leaning toward yes. I agree something seems a bit off with this but I will watch Saoirse in anything. I’m so intrigued by Robbie - I dismissed her so quickly ( Donna from Neighbours? Come on) but I have to admit she definitely proved me wrong after i, Tonya. And I was ready to hate I, Tonya. Well deserved nomination and my 3rd place behind Hawkins and Ronan last year. “Your inferior??” Gasp!

July 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterChoog

Yeah, I'd put this in that pile of Maybe called "If Oscar Bites." The performances don't look terrible based on this, and it looks like they're turning this into an old school battle epic melodrama (think Spartacus or Ben-Hur). The Favourite looks great (and I'm a yes regardless of what Oscar thinks), but that seems closer to the Amadeus side of period film, where the "battles" are strictly verbal, so there might well be room for both in Best Picture. ESPECIALLY in a 6-10 field.

July 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

I'm a Maybe So because I love costume pictures but obviously historical accuracy has been thrown right out the window, most glaring example Elizabeth & Mary, Queen of Scots never met in person!, so what are they really showing us.

Also both actresses seem too young for the breath of the story.

July 12, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

Wow, everyone is so negative and cynical. I wasn't expecting that.

I'm saying YES. I'm always there for great actressing and I'm excited to see these two together.

July 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBrad

I agree with the sense that something feels slightly off. The wigs and the makeup are particularly distracting. Ronan appears to be the stronger player, but her accent seems slightly off, which is unusual for her. I really don't understand Robbie's casting as Elizabeth, and agree with the sentiment that the pair swapped would have made more sense? However, I am very excited to see their performances.

I think The Favourite will bode a better chance with the Oscars, but audiences may go for this one more?

July 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew

Good Lord, this looks like a souped up History Channel production!- between the bad wigs, the dodgy accents and the fact that BOTH actresses look too damn young for their roles. The young millennials will eat this crap up though, because Lord knows, they simply don't know any better. Okay,'s where I get brutally honest: Ronan is chewing the scenery and not in a good way and Robbie is egregiously miscast. Hell, both are egregiously miscast.

BTW, I believe Cal Roth from upthread summed it up very well with: Mean Girls: The Golden Age.

I'll catch it on Netflix next year.

July 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDevlin

usually a wig reveal is an act of desperation, but history says elizabeth wins this lipsynch

i'm a yes for the two actresses [which was the case even before i saw the trailer]

July 12, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterpar

Yes, Ronan does look like Elizabeth I when she was a young princess but taking into consideration tt Elizabeth is 9 yrs older than Mary, it wld b hard press to imagine Robbie is almost a decade younger than Ronan if they switch roles.

Althot their story has been done ad nauseam, Ay sayeth give em Royal Queens a chance!!

Trvia: the real Mary was not fluent in Scottish at all as she was raised in the French Court since she was a baby. If anytink, she shld spot a French accent!

July 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterClaran

The film itself looks dull, a huge Maybe So ( from the producers of Darkest Hour says it all) but the acting seems top notch , Ronan's accent sounds spot on and her placid beauty resembles Meryl Streep circa 1980's. Although it looks like it's gonna be Robbie's show, her fierce screen presence and stunning looks plus her ability to handle campy ( that wig, make-up ) makes her look as if Sharon Stone and Charlize Theron had a baby together. Just guessing , of course, but Margot may act circles around Saoirse in this one.

July 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEder Arcas

Let's say it again for the folks in the back: They. Never. Actually. Met.

July 13, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAlex

Robbie looks stronger than Ronan.

July 13, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAaron

I agree that Margot looks stronger in the trailer- "Your inferior??" that is her Oscar clip right there. She is young and sexy and proved she wants challenging material and produced and got PGA nominated for her efforts. She could easily slip into "due" status despite being a relative newcomer and walk away with the award.

July 13, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterTom G.


Young Millennials, most millennial are in their 30s and late 20s.

I always get annoyed when people think millennial are teenagers or in college, nope that’s the next generation.

July 13, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterNikki

@Nikki: The millennial birth years: 1981-1996...the young millennials, the ones at the tail end, are the ones I'm referring to.

July 13, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDevlin

I am YES for Margot Robbie! That wig snatching scene took my breath.
Mary has always been a bitch though, and Elizabeth and her never even met in real life.

July 13, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSTFU

@Devlin I took a class in 2007 on generational differences and they labeled Generation Y/ Millennials as 1980-1994. However your range doesn’t negate anything I saidthe majority of Millennials are in their late 20s - 30s. I hate when they lump us all in together like we are all 22 or 21. Just a pet peeve of mine.

July 13, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterNikki

I'm a firm YES for these two actresses sparring. However, I think the tone is still unclear from the trailer - will we get a boisterous romp or a stab at historical veracity? If it tries to do both, it'll be a mess. I'd definitely be more excited by the former, given the number of previous versions of this tale. Some of the dialogue already clunks hard (although I'll reserve judgement until I hear it in context), but keeping the actressing front and centre bodes well.

July 13, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSally W

Just not sure about this. Looks a bit overblown, and I agree that the two actresses should swap roles. Heck, I'd take Robbie out completely and have Ronan as Elizabeth and Carey Mulligan as Mary.

I know it's just a film but I hate historical inaccuracies and the two queens never met. Also: the real Mary was said to have spoken with a French accent because she grew up in France. Anyhow, I'll hold my nose and hope for the best.

July 13, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterevangelina

One more thing: They are both ludicrously young to play the queens at this stage of their life. Emily Watson and Kristin Scott Thomas would have been a dream!

July 13, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterevangelina

@evangelina: Amen. I couldn't agree more.

July 13, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDevlin

evangelina: Carey Mulligan as Mary? serious? That would be even worse casting. She's got no spine, and the orange Crush has spilled on her shoes!

July 13, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Honestly.... OH HELL YEAH! Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie.... that's elite. I love those 2 ladies.

July 13, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

To all those whining about how E and M never really met... No shit Sherlock. The point of cinema is take some artistic liberties because a "real history" movie about them writing a letter and then waiting for it to be delivered, watching the other read it and write a furious pursed lip response... would be... dull. Or dare we break the news to you that there was no Jack or Rose on the Titanic either?

July 13, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterOscar Geek

Oscar Geek, this movie looks stupid.

July 13, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterevangelina

Tilda Swinston looks like a Medieval Queen too....She will make a solid Elizabeth I!!!

July 14, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterClaran

wow. Robbie looks terrific here. based on the trailer, this performance has the potential to go all the way and win her BSA. We shall see

Fingers crossed for Ronan and that the film will play up her delusions & insanity. Hard to tell from this.

July 14, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterhuh

Is Margot Robbie the new Charlize Theron... the actress with super model looks who gets ugly for every role? lol

July 14, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

Looks BAD as I predicted since the moment I saw the first still.

July 14, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Oh no. No, no, no!

That trailer was horrible. Makes me not want to see the film altogether.

July 15, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSamson

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