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Speaking of the Oscars, one man who is clearly getting a lot of attention is Gary Oldman. For his portrayal of the great British icon Winston Churchill. Now it is a shock that he has never won an Oscar, he was rightfully nominated for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, but to look at his acting career in the past and you realise it truly is a shame. Has he done enough to finally win that Oscar?
The film follows Churchill as he becomes the newly appointed prime minister, as Britain deals with the early days of World War II. Having to deal with opposition from both sides of the war, from the troubles that are occurring on the beaches of Dunkirk and members of his own party.
In my opinion, I think Gary Oldman will be my firm favourite come Oscar night. Oldman completely disappears as Churchill, not one moment did I feel that was Gary Oldman pretending to be him. Obviously, the prosthetics team did an amazing job, but Oldman shines in this performance. He does convey that determination and stubbornness that Churchill was known for to perfection, while at the same time showing his vulnerable side, of a man who is truly struggling with the task at hand. The true highlight that showing how brilliant he is comes in final scenes, acting out Churchill’s most famous speech played with such strength and power, that you realise Oldman is truly the perfect portrayal of Winston Churchill.
Another great performance that does appear to be going under the radar a little is Kristin Scott Thomas’ Clementine Churchill’s wife bringing a performance full of wit and intelligence, she plays Clementine with such boldness and strength that you truly believe he would be lost without her. Her scenes with Oldman are the highlights of the film, working with such great chemistry and humour. Highlighting that behind every great man, is a great woman.
The director, Joe Wright does make an attempt at dealing with the stuffiness that is involved with this subject matter, of Churchill in the War Room, and a lot of the time he does succeed in that. One scene in particular when Churchill’s driving through the streets of London is then juxtaposed brilliantly later on when he drove along those same streets, but the passage of time and his actions have had their consequences. That scene, in particular, was done brilliantly and makes what happens next that much more sympathetic.
I will mention the scene that follows on the underground, as it has been criticised as being slightly cheesy, but I feel it is a great scene. Joe Wright should be proud of it, it was the emotional impact the film truly needed. Yes, it was very patriotic and probably historically inaccurate, but it highlighted the stakes and the feelings of the British people at the time beautifully.
The main problem I had with the film, however, is surprisingly Oldman’s performance. His performance is so scene-stealing and fantastic. It doesn’t give enough of the other cast time to shine, everyone puts in rather decent performances, but really only Thomas’ really shines out. Mostly I feel it’s because the character of Churchill is stretch out to interact with so many characters a lot of them get lost in the translation. Which is a true shame as Lily James and Ben Mendelsohn, didn’t really get much screen time to truly get their character across, but did well enough with their time on screen.
I would suggest seeing this movie just for Gary Oldman’s performance alone when it comes to portrayals of Winston Churchill I have no doubt that this will be the one all others will now be judged. Gary Oldman is truly the favourite to beat in the best actor category and after watching Darkest Hour I can see why.