Gary Oldman has been the Oscar favorite for Best Actor for the entire awards season for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hour.” Indeed, he’s spent longer in the number one position than Ed Sheeran did when his new album came out. And Oldman is still there.
A few weeks back, however, this British veteran actor faced some strong competition from Timothee Chalamet, the breakout star of “Call Me By your Name,” who started picking up a slew of critics awards. These scribes were enamored of his natural, emotional performance as Elio. Can Chalamet ride that momentum to an upset at the Oscars?
While possible, it is not probable. After all, Oldman ticks off a number of typical attributes needed to win an acting Oscar.
Oldman is playing a real person: Britain’s iconic WWII Prime Minister. Six of the last 10 Best Actor champs have won for portraying a real-life figure. And he gives a transformative performance, in voice, body language and looks – you can’t tell its Oldman. This is a staple of a classic Oscar winner, similar to Nicole Kidman in “The Hours” or any three of Daniel Day-Lewis’ Best Actor wins.
After a fair few critics groups chose Chalamet over Oldman, the latter proved his mettle in the precursor prizes. He won the Golden Globe over, among others, Chalamet. And he did the same at the Critics’ Choice Awards, which might have been Chalamet’s best chance to stop him, given his winning ways with the regional critics groups. Both then reaped BAFTA bids but Oldman is all but a lock there as his film has a whopping nine nominations. And he just took home the SAG Award.
The actor is being rewarded for his showing us that a great leader questions his decisions, that he takes time to reflect on the consequences of his actions. The current political climate makes this story set more than 75 years ago very relevant.
Oldman is benefiting too from the perception that he is woefully overdue for an Oscar. His sole nomination came in 2011 for Best Actor for his work in “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”; he lost to Jean Dujardin who headline the Best Picture champ “The Artist.”
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