The Best Gary Oldman Movie of Every Decade (So Far)


Gary Oldman is one of the most valuable actors in the film industry, and one that has reinvented himself to different generations through his amazing selection of roles. He’s known to some as the villainous Count Dracula in Bram Stoker’s Dracula and others as Prime Minister Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour; younger viewers might recognize him best as Sirius Black in the Harry Potter film franchise or Lieutenant James Gordon in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy. Oldman is seemingly one of the rare actors who can transform himself for any sort of role that fits within any genre.

Oldman’s track record is extensive, and he’s often the key to making an otherwise “fine” film into something truly extraordinary. A film like Air Force One would have been nothing but another “Die Hard on a plane” if it wasn’t for Oldman’s villainous performance as the lead terrorist; similarly, his eccentric scenery-chewing is by far the most entertaining part of Luc Besson’s controversial science fiction film The Fifth Element. He can add in an emotional undercurrent to a film like 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes that makes it unclear if he’s playing the hero or villain, and his iconic role in True Romance has become a legendary moment that has inspired countless parodies and tributes. Oldman’s upcoming roles include a reunion with Nolan on Oppneheimer and a return to Apple TV+’s Slow Horses.

Although he’s teased about his potential retirement before he reaches 80 years old, Oldman continues to serve as a great mentor to young actors in the industry, such as his Harry Potter co-star Daniel Radcliffe. Here are Gary Oldman’s best movies from each decade.

1980s: Sid and Nancy

Palace Pictures

Playing an iconic figure such as the infamous volatile Sex Pistols frontman Sid Vicious would have been a challenge for any actor, but Oldman’s sheer commitment to the material made Sid and Nancy into a cinematic classic. Oldman wasn’t doing just an impression of Vicious; he dug into how the famously eccentric performer became a victim of his own resistance against authority and drug abuse, and became entrapped within his own perilous personality. The film is less easy to watch than other musician biopics that attempt to tone down the nastier sides of their subjects’ personalities, but Oldman’s work in Sid and Nancy is certainly more interesting than the average “true story” behind the life of a famous artist. It’s easy to see why this was the breakout performance of his career.

1990s: Leon: The Professional

Gary Oldman in Leon the Professional
Buena Vista International

Oldman is well known for playing bad guys, but he never got as completely unhinged as he did with his role as the unhinged DEA agent Norman Stansfield in Besson’s 1994 action masterpiece Leon: The Professional. Even though the film is told through the perspective of a young girl (played by Natalie Portman), Oldman’s performance is enough to give anyone nightmares! The notion of an abusive law enforcement officer who dispenses with his own form of justice is even more terrifying now than it was when Oldman debuted the role. Although some would cite The Fifth Element as the superior of Oldman’s collaborations with Besson, Stansfield represents a more realistic villain who sadly represents too many figures from today’s news cycle.

Related: Gary Oldman’s 10 Best Movies, Ranked by Rotten Tomatoes

2000s: Hannibal

Anthony Hopkins and Giancarlo Giannini in Hannibal.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

The 2000s saw Oldman appear in some of the best films of his career thanks to the Harry Potter and The Dark Knight franchises. While 2001’s Hannibal isn’t necessarily as strong of a film as Batman Begins or Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Oldman’s performance as the exotic villain that truly haunts Hannibal Lector (Anthony Hopkins) is reason enough to watch Ridley Scott’s sorely underrated sequel to the 1991 Best Picture winning classic Silence of the Lambs. Even though Hopkins’ version of Lector is often referred to as one of the greatest villains in cinematic history, Oldman certainly gave him a run for his money during the film’s gripping final moments.

Related: 10 Iconic Gary Oldman Movie Villains

2010s: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy


Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was a film that fulfilled many supersized expectations. Not only had Oldman’s fans been waiting for him to finally receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor (one that he’d sadly lose to Jean Dujardin for The Artist), it also served as one of the best adaptations of John le Carre’s work that had ever been brought to life on screen before. Although Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, based on the beloved novel of the same name, had once been adapted into a miniseries starring the late great Sir Alec Guinness, Oldman’s performance as George Smiley did the material just as much justice.

Smiley is such an interesting protagonist because of his unreadable nature; it’s almost impossible to determine what he’s thinking or what he’s planning next. It’s incredible to see an actor known for their idiosyncrasies like Oldman turn on this very different side of his acting abilities.

2020s: Mank

Gary Oldman in Mank
Distributed by Netflix

David Fincher’s Mank attempted to dig into the incredible controversies and scandals that surrounded the release of Citizen Kane, the film often referred to as the greatest ever made. The film examined Citizen Kane’s production through the relationship of its screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz (Oldman) and its director Orson Welles (Tom Burke). While it’s fun for film fans to see the behind-the-scenes story behind this classic, Mank is more focused on showing how the film industry became overtaken by political and corporate bodies in the 1930s as the United States became increasingly militarized.

Oldman’s quirky, offbeat performance explored the figure at the heart behind this battle for creative and intellectual freedom; the film isn’t as interested in the argument behind the authorship of Citizen Kane as it is the role of artists during this period of change. Even though he was acting under pounds of makeup, Oldman’s performance is singular, emotional, and quite tragic. He represents a generation of creative geniuses whose talents were taken advantage of.

Source link

Leave a Reply