Gary Oldman might finally win his first career Oscar in March for his role as Winston Churchill in the film “Darkest Hour.” Surprisingly it’s only his second Oscar nomination after his first for “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” in 2012, also as Best Actor. Where does his latest movie rank among his greatest of all time in our photo gallery (view above)?
Despite his long and very successful film career Oldman hasn’t been recognized very often by awards groups. He received one Emmy nomination (for a guest appearance on “Friends” of all things) but has never even been nominated for a Golden Globe. Back in his native country of England, the BAFTAs have nominated him twice before this year as an actor (for “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” and “Prick up Your Ears”) and awarded him two trophies for a film he directed called “Nil by Mouth” (he won for the screenplay he wrote and a Best British Film award for producing he movie).
The character of Churchill has been an awards bonanza in recent years at the Emmy Awards with no less than three actors winning for playing him within the last 15 years. Albert Finney won the Best Movie/Miniseries Actor award in 2003 for “The Gathering Storm.” Brendan Gleeson took home the same trophy in 2010 for “Into the Storm.” At the 2017 Emmys, John Lithgow won the Best Drama Supporting Actor Emmy for playing him in “The Crown.”
Let’s take a tour in the photo gallery above of the 15 best films, ranked from worst to best, in Oldman’s career. Our choices include “Sid and Nancy,” “JFK,” “The Contender,” “Dracula,” and “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.”
15. TRUE ROMANCE (1993)
Another one of Oldman’s great villain roles is in “True Romance” where he plays the vicious pimp of a young woman who has just recently turned to prostitution.
14. DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (2014)
Oldman is powerful and commanding as the leader of the remaining surviving humans in this chapter of the popular film franchise.
13. HANNIBAL (2001)
This sequel to the Oscar winning “The Silence of the Lambs” was a controversial film from its inception. While the original team from the first film often stated they would be happy to participate in a sequel, when Thomas Harris finally delivered the novel to them after years of delay the reception was mixed.
12. BATMAN/DARK KNIGHT MOVIES
Oldman had one of his more “normal” roles as Commissioner Gordon in the three Christopher Nolan directed Batman movies.
11. THE FIFTH ELEMENT (1997)
As quiet and contained as Oldman was in the Batman films, in this film he is at his extravagant almost hammy best as Zorg in this science fiction film that Oldman described as “Star Wars on acid.”
10. HARRY POTTER MOVIES
Oldman played Sirius Black in this series of films based on the popular children’s book series. Black is the godfather of Harry Potter.
9. ROMEO IS BLEEDING (1993)
One of Oldman’s best forgotten performances comes in this fast-paced film noir type thriller from the early nineties. Oldman plays a New York police sergeant who works on the cities organized crime task force but is also taking bribes from the mob.
8. ROSENCRANTZ & GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD (1990)
Based on an acclaimed stage play by Tom Stoppard this story takes two minor characters from “Hamlet” and expands on what they might have been up to while they are off stage.
7. BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA (1992)
Francis Ford Coppola’s adaptation of the classic horror story met with mixed reviews from critics especially for the surfer dude type work from Keanu Reeves who still seemed to be channeling some of “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” but Oldman is refined and mysterious as the famed bloodsucker.
6. PRICK UP YOUR EARS (1987)
Oldman is terrific in this biopic of British playwright Joe Orton. Orton lived a turbulent life and was eventually murdered by his lover actor Kenneth Halliwell.
5. THE CONTENDER (2000)
Oldman received a SAG Awards and an Independent Spirit Award nomination but was surprisingly left out of the Oscar nominations for his depiction of a senator investigating another senator who has been nominated to be the first female Vice President (Joan Allen).
4. JFK (1991)
Oldman had a pivotal role as Lee Harvey Oswald in this highly controversial film from director Oliver Stone. The film enraged some with its conspiracy theories regarding the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy but it also received 8 Oscar nominations including Best Picture.
3. TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY (2011)
Oldman shockingly has only received one Oscar nomination to date and it was for this adaptation of the John Le Carre spy novel.
2. DARKEST HOUR (2017)
While Winston Churchill has been played quite a bit before by other actors, Oldman made the role his own with an assist from the makeup and hairstyling wizards and intense preparation. Set during the toughest and earliest time of Churchill’s run as prime minister, the film shows a physically unrecognizable Oldman trying to warn the world of the dangers he foresees Adolf Hitler bringing to the world.
1. SID AND NANCY (1986)
After a bunch of work on the British stage Oldman burst onto American film screens in this biopic of the punk rock star Sid Vicious of the band “The Sex Pistols.”