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« Game of Thrones: Cersei | Main | Emmy Reactions: Why Wasn't This Nominated?! »
Friday
Jul142017

It's Time for the "Darkest Hour"

Chris here. Remember a few short years ago when Gary Oldman, after decades of brilliance, was finally an Oscar nominee for Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy? Well, it looks like he could be prepping another go of awards season, but this time it might be for a performance that finds the actor on the unrecognizable side of his chameleonic abilities. The last time he had this level of makeup on we got his delicious and underrated Dracula, but now Oldman is donning some impressive prosthetics to play Winston Churchill in Joe Wright's period piece Darkest Hour.

Though Joe Wright's previous period work like Atonement and Anna Karenina have sparked with some inventive presentation, for the trailer this looks like a little bit more of the familiar. No matter, considering Oldman is firing on all cylinders for some juicy dramatics as the Prime Minister - the actor is definitely the show here. Also a good sign considering some of the not-so-beloved recent performances we've had from great actors take on playing Churchill.

The film also features a strong ensemble around Oldman, including Kristen Scott Thomas, Ben Mendelsohn, Lily James, and Stephen Dillane. Expect to see this pop up on the fall festival circuit before it opens at Thanksgiving.

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Reader Comments (26)

It's all fine and good except that God-forsaken color muting. Those brownish-oranges and gray-blues. Yuck

July 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBen

Yuck and omni present now,can't say it excited me at all apart from the Oldman playing Churchill,KST seems like she's doing Helena Bonham Carter's usual duties here.

July 14, 2017 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

After watching Lithgow's Churchill on The Crown, it's hard for me to see any other actor playing him.

July 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

looks fine but i for one am incensed that he got a "gary oldman is winston churchill" and my beloved kst did not get a "kristin scott thomas is clementine churchill" #justiceforkst

July 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCharles O

After this trailer (and the ones for Breathe and Stronger), here's my guess on Lead Actor:

1. Hugh Jackman, The Greatest Showman
2. Luke Evans, Professor Marston and the Wonder Women
3. John Boyega, Detroit
4. Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread
5. Michael Fassbender, The Snowman
6. Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour (likely spoiler, if it's not Fassbender)
7. Tom Hanks, The Papers (possible spoiler)
8. Chadwick Boseman, Marshall
9. Jake Gyllenhaal, Stronger
10. Ansel Elgort, Baby Driver (It's more likely to get in for supporting, if anything, but he's still probable for the Mus/Com Globe nod.)

July 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Suzanne: Agreed. If the trailer made it seem like Oldman's performance was going to match Lithgow's, I'd start acquiescing to the talks of "this is a lock", but it doesn't. This is a lesser performance. Not bad, actually pretty good, but lesser. It might still get nominated, but I'm not seeing the win.

July 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Oldman's performance features all the necessary fireworks, but he is unrecognizable. Daniel Day Lewis and Eddie Redmayne -to name a couple- were still "there". If we didn't know it was Gary Oldman I doubt we would be able to put a name to the face. I don't think voters will take very kindly to such level of prosthetics.

One minor element playing against Oldman could be Brian Cox's lauded performance in the so-so "Churchill" released back in June.

In any case, I want to see both films.

July 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMarcos

Huh, yeah, if they wanted an actor who looked completely different why didn't they hire an actor who looked completely different?


I don't get it. Wright is a promising director and Oldman is a magnificent actor so we'll see but this trailer doesn't inspire much confidence in either.

July 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterHuh

Ansel Elgort for an Oscar nomination? That is not acting. This reminds me of The Iron Lady trailer, but I agree that John Lithgow just covered this territory in The Crown.

July 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterHilary Swank

Awful trailer but I'll see the movie as any movie with Dillane

July 14, 2017 | Unregistered Commentersati

Hilary Swank: Um... Nothing is "not acting". Great acting is great acting is great acting, and the concept that any great performance is actually "not acting" just because it's not in a "respectable" genre or format? The result of that is...nothing good.

July 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

This ticks so many boxes (period, physical transformation, broad range, mimmicry, deglam, real person, WWII, nostalgia "remember when we had REAL political leadership?", etc) and, boy, is Oldman overdue!

If the performance is as showy and captivating as the trailer indicates, he will be a contender, possibly a winner (especially if his main challenger is Wolverine for a song and dance movie).
Oldman IS Churchill seems like smart marketing, since Streep and Day Lewis got their third oscars for playing Thatcher and Lincoln. In Meryl's case the performance is iffy and the movie is atrocious, so sometimes all you need is the bait and a clever campaign/narrative.

July 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCarmen Sandiego

I have loved Oldman forever.

July 14, 2017 | Unregistered Commenternatalie

Carmen Sandiego: Look, a nomination seems possible. But the Academy was never as WILD into Oldman as they are Streep and Day-Lewis, and everyone, both critics and audiences, is going to be wrestling with "Is this better than John Lithgow's Churchill", and I'd bet most will answer no and, in response, not give him #1 votes.

July 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Thoughts:
First: I really really don't like that makeup
Second: It doesn't look a Joe Wright movie at all
Third: Kristin Scott Thomas!!!

July 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDoug

@Volvagia

I'm surprised you don't have Denzel Washington for Roman Isreal, Esq. Weird title (preferred Inner City), but I think not only is he a more likely nominee than most of your top 10, after this less than impressive Darkest Hour trailer, I think Washington might just be our next Best Actor winner. (Oldman is a gifted actor, but he seems the most "acted" and least naturalistic of all the recent great Churchill performances, and I think comparisons to the likes of John Lithgow or Albert Finney may hurt him quite badly).

Washington seems to have the role and the narrative to be the frontrunner if Oldman and Darkest Hour underperform. Physical transformation, playing a socially awkward character (big departure for him), and just lost a hotly contested Best Actor race to Casey Affleck. Usually I find the Best Actress race to be more interesting, but Best Actor seems to have more going on this year.

July 14, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterlestat

Lithgow was SO good that he became the first American actor nominated for a BAFTA TV acting category (unbelievable but true - unless you class Gillian Anderson as American).

Bad timing for Oldman...

July 15, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterkermit_the_frog

I look forward to the sequel where his election campaign is defeated by Socialists.

July 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSeán

That Volvagia list is awful. There's no way Hugh Jackman, Luke Evans, John Boyega, Michael Fassbender, Jake Gyllenhaal or Ansel Elgort are going to be nominated.

July 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAAA

lestat
Don't count on Denzel getting a third Oscar. The Academy is notoriously reserved when it comes to giving actors a third award and I doubt that they will make an exception for an actor of such limited range.

July 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAAA

@AAA

Deadline just published an article saying the greatest actor in the world was a toss-up between Denzel Washington and Daniel Day-Lewis. I think you are seriously underestimaing the esteem/stature Washington has within the industry (his recent SAG win, despite critics groups working overtime to sweep Casey Affleck to the Best Actor oscar is a testament to that. Had Washington picked up even a quarter of those critics awards or even the Golden Globe, he'd be a time Oscar winner right now).

I can't think of anymore more likely/next in line to win a third Oscar than Washington. And his range is exemplary. People who claim he lacks range tend not to really understand acting (no offense).He's not a chameleon style actor (though he can occasionally disappear into a role) which some people mistakely see as evidence of "range", but any actor who can go from Much Ado About Nothing to Training Day to Malcolm X to Cry Freedom to Philidelphia has range coming out of their ass. His fellow actors worship him for good reason.


And the fact that he's going completely against type with the Roman Israel movie, is basically expanding his range by playing a socially awkward autistic type. That's actually a plus for his Oscar chances.If he pulls this role off, the only thing critics will have left to say about his range is that he's never played a woman or a white man.

Besides which, Jack Nicholson has 3 Oscars and Katherine Hepburn has 4, and while both had range, they tended to play within an even narrower persona than Washington. The idea that they only hand out 3 oscars to chameleons like Day-Lewis or accent queens like Streep isn't true. Washington has as much stature as any 3 time winner (and as a Tony Best Actor winner and classically trained, has more serious overall acting cache than someone like Nicholson, who learned his craft on Roger Corman schlock-sets. While Nicholson is a great actor and incredibly charasmatic, Washington is more of an "Actors actor" than him).

July 15, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterlestat

lestat
Casey Affleck was a shoe-in to win the Oscar. The Sag win by Washington was considered by all to be a career award because he hadn't won before.

Yeah, Nicholson and Hepburn weren't chameleon-style actors but their outstanding filmography that Denzel would dream of having justified the 3rd Oscar.

I'm not saying that he is a bad actor. He just doesn't deserve to get to the 3-time Oscar winners club, considering that he has been star-acting from the beginning of the millenium and taking into account that recent 3-time winners Streep and Day-Lewis are considered to be the best actors of our time.

July 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAAA

@AAA

SAG don't have a history of giving make-up or career awards. DeNiro has never won SAG, and they didn't give it to him for Silver Linings Playbook when the opportunity came up. Thaat would have been the most slam dunk career win in the history of career wins. Isn't DeNiro one of the biggest acting legends in film history? If SAG were really into "career awards", DeNiro should have won that in his sleep.

And it's not as if their was some huge sweeping frontrunner when DeNiro lost the SAG (like Affleck was before Washington upset him). It was won by Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln (who already had a SAG award, though I doubt any voters remembered or cared). and Jones didn't even go on to win the Oscar. Christoph Waltz took it for Django.

So Washington is esteemed enough by his fellow actors to get a "career" award (when their is a massive frontrunner in Affleck), but DeNiro can't get a "career award" in an open race with no particular frontrunner? Guess that means Washington is considered greater and more respected than DeNiro. That may be the case, but I don't buy it for a minute. SAG voters thought Washington gave the best performance in my opinion. Or at least the most actor friendly performance. Critics were in the tank for Affleck 9 months before Oscar season even started and backed him to the hilt, but Washington in Fences had everything actors tend to love in performances. Speeches, fluctuating emotional arcs. Washington won the SAG on merit. SAG voters care least about that stuff. They vote for the performance they like the most.

If they gave out three Oscars for great filmographies, Burt Lancaster, Paul Newman and Tom Cruise would be 3 time Oscar winning actors. It's not about that. Many regard Washington as America's greatest living actor. As I said, Deadline (an industry bible) claimed he may be the WORLD'S greatest living actor. You may not be a big fan, but denying that his reputation is big enough to put him in the 3 time winners circle is not smart Oscar prognasticating.

"Deserves got nothing to do with it". Washington can win a 3rd, because enough people think he's great enough to have a 3rd. You might not, but you don't have to be.

July 15, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterlestat

Also, I think Streep may be considered the best actress of her time, by both the general public and critics. Which is sort of a consensus.

But Day-Lewis is more of a critics thing. If it went down to a vote with the general public as to who was the greater actor (Washington or Day-Lewis), I think Washington would win in a landslide.

It's Day-Lewis own fault really. He only makes films for critics and oscar voters. Streep makes entertainments for regular audiences as well, so the general public appreciate her more. Outside of the critical or cinephile bubble, I think Washington is considered greater than Day-Lewis, as he mixes movie star vehicles with prestige efforts.

July 15, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterlestat

Kristin Scott Thomas' sophomore nod has eluded her long enough.

Washington has four consecutive decades as an Oscar nominee. Two wins and seven acting nods. Plus a producing nod for Fences. He's in his sixties where lifetime achievement recognition isn't irrational nor premature. A third Oscar for Washington makes a whole lot of sense of paper whether you like him or not.

July 15, 2017 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

Oh jesus, it is so not worth getting into a slinging match over what might get nominated for best actor in six months time.

This looks dull and bland, but I'm sure the make-up will be nominated and if it's a modest enough hit then it could go much further across the board. But, truly, this looks dull and bland.

July 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks

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