There is a British hero and his name is Gary Oldman. Not only is he the finest actor on our Isles, born and bred in London, but he has also directed a powerful and BAFTA-winning movie. And if you don’t love his interviews, his attitude and his downright hilarity, then you are wrong. Gary Oldman is a living legend, nailing every single role that comes his way and more. This week sees Oldman star in the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. He plays Dreyfuss, the leader of the last remnants of humanity stuck in a building San Francisco. Though not entirely bad, Dreyfuss angrily fights back when he finds that the apes are living in a treetop community above them. But with such an iconic figurehead in British culture as Oldman, let’s have a look at his essential movies.
And yes, special mention to the Harry Potter series where he plays Sirius Black, then consequently broke our hearts much like the books did.
You must have been so stellar in a role that people will continue to talk about your work for years to come afterwards. And biopics don’t get more vicious than this, in Oldman’s first mainstream role that brought him to the attention of everyone. Here, as Sid Vicious, the bass- player/vocalist of The Sex Pistols until his untimely overdose. Visceral and brutal, Oldman is incredible and compelling as Vicious. In an unforgettable role, this is worth travelling back to the movie that started his career to watch him in this character portrayal unlike any other.
There is something so terrifying about his performance here that it solidified his work as a villain actor (as well as a great one). This taut and brilliant French thriller film that also starred Jean Reno is an excellent one that also brought the world Natalie Portman. The titular character is a mob assassin who finds a twelve-year-old girl has taken refuge with him after her parents are killed. With Gary Oldman’s mentally deranged DEA agent on the hunt for her, the air of thrilling tension is paramount. Oldman is fun, yet terrifying and his ferocity is a massive draw here.
Possibly the first film where everyone could see just how much of a chameleon he is, and for good reason, Oldman is almost recognisable as this galactic tyrant hunting down the innocent Leeloo who possesses enormous power. Luc Besson, who previously worked with Oldman on Léon, directs this highly successful sci-fi fare that is witty, hysterical, imaginative and full of action. Though polarizing critics, you cannot deny that Oldman is a tour de force as Zorg as he ruthlessly hunts people down. I mean, look at his hair and outfit and he can still be scary! It’s a wonderful role.
This is arguably one of the best adaptations of Bram Stoker’s timeless novel, only rivaled by Christopher Lee’s performance. Dracula (the Francis Ford Coppola film) may boast one of the worst British accents of all time by Keanu Reeves, but it’s the most exquisite piece of horror. With cinematography as sweeping as a setting sun, it’s Oldman’s alluring Dracula that captivates as he battles with his passions for Mina Harker. His piercing eyes, swift movements and terrifying darkness is as seductive as the vampire himself, even with the boobs on his head.
This. This performance hurts. It hurts because it was overlooked by a piece of novelty tripe that never reached the heights of Oldman is this role. It hurts because Oldman is so impeccable as John Le Carre’s George Smiley in this phenomenal spy movie. He is achingly good. Embodying the role seamlessly that he is able to carry the gravitas of Cold War sleuthing in this quiet, sublime performance. The Karla monologue, the final trap and many more scenes capture this intense actor as exactly how he is: extraordinary.
What Do You Think?
Is there another film of Oldman's that you love?
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