The 15 Best Gary Oldman Movies You Need To Watch
8. Dracula (1992) Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Again displaying his versatility and skill, Oldman plays one of the most iconic of characters, that of Dracula. Seductive and evil at the same time, he achieves a really nice balance, never becoming hammy or pantomime in his approach.
While this film itself has its fair share of flaws, such as the painful British accent adapted by actor Keanu Reeves, Oldman is one of the film’s true strengths and goes a long way to making it work better than it should.
7. The Fifth Element (1997) Directed by Luc Besson
Working with Besson, “The Fifth Element” was a wild and woolly, almost comic book take on science fiction. Oldman plays General Jean-Baptiste Emmanual Zurg, a cruel and greedy businessman.
Strikingly dressed with an asymmetrical haircut, this is one Oldman’s most ‘out there’ performances, with suits the chaotic, colourful and utterly over the top style of the film perfectly. While nothing deep and meaningful, “The Fifth Element” is a hell of a lot of fun to watch.
6. The Batman Trilogy (2005, 2007, 2012) Directed by Christopher Nolan
Over the course of director Christopher Nolan’s revision of the Batman franchise, Oldman played Commissioner Jim Gordon. A pillar of what’s morally right in a world gone wild, he was the one character that, as a viewer of the trilogy, you had complete trust in. Proving that he can do more than just play bad guys, Oldman totally nailed Gordon’s initial suspicion and later trust of Batman and how Gotham’s alliance with The Bat was forged.
After the Batman franchise unfortunately became something of a joke due to its mistreatment by director Joel Schumacher, it was nothing short of joy to see it treated with the decency and respect that it deserved. Oldman was only but one piece of this, along with quality actors like Christian Bale, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine.
5. Sid And Nancy (1986) Directed by Alex Cox
The second film from British director Alex Cox, director of the brilliant and utterly unique 1984 film “Repo Man”, this is an explosive and powerful biopic on Sid Vicious, bass player for infamous British punk band The Sex Pistols.
While it does, at times, play fast and loose with the facts of the story of the band and Vicious, Oldman brilliantly captures the essence and spirit of this lost man child who experienced too much too soon in his life, dying at the tender age of twenty-one.
It is a compelling and unforgettable performance, receiving the highest compliment from Sex Pistols front man John Lydon AKA Johnny Rotten, who described Oldman as ‘a bloody good actor’. Grabbing the attention of Hollywood, this was only a hint of what Oldman would be capable of in years to come.
4. True Romance (1994) Directed by Tony Scott
Directed by Tony Scott and based on a script by Quentin Tarantino, Oldman’s work in “True Romance” is proof positive that it’s not about the amount of screen time you have, but what you do with it that counts.
In what amounts to a handful of scenes, Oldman, almost unrecognisable with one eye blinded and a head full of dreadlocks, plays pimp and drug deal Drexl Spivey. This character is total psychosis on screen, a truly mad, bad and dangerous to know individual.
In a rogue’s gallery of characters on display in this film, Oldman is an absolute standout. His confrontation with Clarence (Christian Slater) is one for the ages, with its sheer aggression and intensity, all pure Oldman. Besides, you have to love a film where Dennis Hopper plays the most ‘normal’ character in the story, don’t you?!
3. Nil By Mouth (1997) Directed by Gary Oldman
In his only stab at directing so far in his career, Oldman, not acting and staying on the other side of the camera, created this shattering and brutal examination of domestic violence. Exorcising some of the demons of his less than positive childhood, this is an unflinching look at alcoholism and drug abuse and how it affects the family unit.
Featuring astounding and committed performances from Ray Winstone and Kathy Burke, this is confronting and disturbing cinema at its finest. “Nil By Mouth” is an incredibly difficult film to watch, such is its intensity and the way that it gets in your faces as a viewer.
The cinematic equivalent of a brick to the face, this is one of Oldman’s finest achievements in his career.
2. Leon:The Professional (1994) Directed by Luc Besson
Working with French director Besson for the first time, Oldman plays Stansfield, an amoral and severely corrupt policeman responsible for the death of the family of main character Mathilde (Natalie Portman).
Quietly spoken, this is a different type of psychotic from those we had, up till this point, seen Oldman play. This was an unnerving performance of a truly despicable character. Another gem in the Oldman back catalogue.
1. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) Directed by Tomas Alfredeson
Swedish director Alfredeson, best known for the stunning vampire film “Let The Right One In”, makes it two for two with his remarkable take on the classic Cold War spy novel by author John Le Carre. There is a beautiful sense of control and feel for the material, wonderfully illustrated by the exceptional work from Oldman in this film.
Tense and brooding, he plays George Smiley, an espionage veteran forced out of retirement to flush out a Soviet agent working within British MI6.
After one incredible performance after another, this was the one that finally got Oldman an Oscar nomination. Here, in a large cast, he really is the glue that holds the story together.
Like fine wine, Oldman is one of those actors that seems to be getting better with age.
Author Bio: Neil is a journalist, labourer, forklift and truck driver. In a previous life, he was a projectionist for ten years. He is a lifelong student of cinema.
Pages: 1 2