Joe Wright’s Darkest Hour is one to watch at this year’s Oscars, with Best Actor, Best Picture and Best Director all in play. Here, we reveal four reasons why this World War Two-set drama, which stars Gary Oldman as British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, is among the favourites for the top gongs.
“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” - Winston Churchill
1. Gary Oldman delivers an acting tour de force…
London-born Gary Oldman, is one of Britain’s most respected actors. Over the course of his illustrious four-decade career, he’s wowed in everything from Sid and Nancy (1986) to 2011’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (for which he was Oscar nominated), by way of Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) and the Harry Potter series.
His turn as UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill is nothing short of an acting tour de force. To ‘become’ the late, great wartime leader, Oldman spent more than 200 hours in the make-up chair, where he gained almost half his body weight in prosthetics. But, as astonishing as this physical transformation is, the actor has perfected the cadences of Churchill’s voice, even mumbling incoherently between lines, and also brings warmth and humour to the man regularly voted the greatest Briton of all time.
“I may be drunk, Miss, but in the morning I will be sober and you will still be ugly.” - Winston Churchill
2. It’s a warts-and-all portrayal of the great British leader…
Winston Churchill has been portrayed on screen many times over the years, with everyone from Richard Burton and John Lithgow to Timothy Spall and Albert Finney appearing as the two-time British Prime Minister.
How does Oldman’s performance compare? It’s up there with the best, and may very well be the best (although we’ll leave you to make up you own mind on that one). Oldman doesn’t shy away from the darker side of Churchill: his at-times bullying ways, his flip-flopping moods (now thought to be manic depression) and his quick temper are all vividly rendered. But Oldman also captures Churchill’s playful humour (he was an extremely witty man) and straight-talking charm.
“My most brilliant achievement was my ability to be able to persuade my wife to marry me.” - Winston Churchill
3. The supporting cast is simply wonderful…
Gary Oldman is superbly supported in the film by an all-star British cast (plus, one Aussie).
Playing his beloved wife Clementine is Kristin Scott Thomas, an Oscar nominee for The English Patient. Australian Ben Mendelsohn is King George VI, while Lily James (Cinderella, Baby Driver) is Churchill’s earnest, likeable secretary, Elizabeth Layton.
Although Darkest Hour is very much Oldman’s triumph, these tried-and-tested actors each excel in their roles, adding weight to an already hefty production.
“Never, never, never give up!” - Winston Churchill
4. It’s the perfect companion piece to Dunkirk…
Set during the early years of World War Two, the film culminates with the evacuation of Dunkirk in late May/early June 1940, and indeed Darkest Hour is the perfect companion piece to Christopher Nolan’s 2017 WW2 epic.
It’s the same world-changing period in British history – told from a different perspective (this time at home, in London’s dimly lit corridors of power, rather than in the combat zones). Ironically, Nolan and Darkest Hour director Joe Wright could be involved in an epic struggle of their own for the upcoming awards contend.
Prepare to have your spirits lifted and your soul stirred by Darkest Hour – in ODEON cinemas from 12th January.