10 Reasons Why Gary Oldman Should Get An Oscar
"Like a few gifted actors, he is able to re-invent himself for every role."
"He's kind of like Mr. Potato Head. It's like he has this ability to transform himself into something different at will."
"A candidate for the title of Greatest Living Actor"
"Another class act of the night was Best Actor nominee Gary Oldman who got up during the commercial break after losing Best Actor to Dujardin and sought out each of the other nominees to presumably commiserate or console them."
- Pete Hammond on 2012 Oscars
663 6.7 71. Sid & Nancy (1986)
"It’s been said before, but Gary Oldman played Sid Vicious better than Sid Vicious could play himself. A then 28 year old barely known actor, Oldman bursts onto the scene as the leather-clad Sid Vicious, in all his chaotic glory, being a rebel for the joy of rebelling."
"Oldman captures the self destructive tendencies of Sid excellently and takes it to a frighteningly believable extreme. It is a terrifying and shocking experience to watch him run amuck in this film, spray painting walls, nonstop drinking, shooting heroin every chance he gets, burning houses, etc. He is the true essence of anarchy, and yet somehow we feel sympathy for him."
"This movie, however inaccurate, has got the spirit and Gary Oldman is perfect as Sid. The look and attitude is positively scary."
"Gary Oldman stars as Sid Vicious. Is there anything this man cannot do? Lee Harvey Oswald, a Russian terrorist, and now a punk rocker. And he nails the performance square on the head. One scene has Sid performing Frank Sinatra's "My Way" for a music video. Watching this scene alongside the actual video will show you that Oldman was inside the character and could out-Sid the Sid."
"Gary Oldman is flawless. He perfectly embodies every single characteristic of Sid Vicious. Walking him stumble around makes you feel as if you're watching a documentary instead of an actual picture. Easily one of the best performances of the 80s."
1031 7.3 82. JFK (1991)
"Gary Oldman was appropriately eery as Lee Harvey Oswald, and was perhaps the most memorable of the entire cast"
"Oldman gets the most out of a sweaty, tightly wound glance here, the reproduction of a unique and awkward syntax there. It's one of the great character actor performances of all time."
"Oldman further cements his chameleon status, using no makeup or changes to his general appearance but being completely unrecognizable under the skin of Lee Harvey Oswald, a performance so intriguing and calculated that I was always desperate to see more of him. The film presents Oswald as an enigma and Oldman, who is seen only through flashbacks, captures the essence of the character perfectly. You can always see the mind running in the eyes of this man, but the audience is never sure what he's actually thinking. We never know where he stands and that's what makes the mystery that much more fascinating. Oldman delivers an Oswald who is as much of an enigma as the assassination itself."
"Gary Oldman, for instance, sheds his usually mannered persona to bring Lee Harvey Oswald back to life. The resemblance between the actor and the real-life character is uncanny."
"Oldman is as good as ever. The man cannot deliver a bad performance, even in horrid films (Romeo is Bleeding)"
2591 7.2 7.43. Dracula (1992)
"Initially, the casting of Gary Oldman as Dracula seemed inauspicious and ill advised; in retrospect, the choice of Oldman was inspired. Though many actors have done the role before and since (Schreck, Lugosi and Lee, just to name a few), Oldman manages to make the character uniquely his own, with a nuanced performance infused with depth and acuity. Even when delivering famous, oft quoted lines from previously filmed versions of the story (Lugosi's `Children of the night, what music they make,' for instance), Oldman makes them spontaneous and fresh, with a conversational tone that makes you feel as if you're hearing them for the first time. His presence is self-assured and menacing, which makes the character strong and intimidating, and you sense his longevity and the dark wisdom afforded him by his many years of existence. There is a fastidiousness about Oldman's methods of inhabiting a character that makes you wonder if there is anything as an actor that is beyond his grasp. At this point, I would think not."
"One exception is Gary Oldman’s transformations within the Dracula character, who repeatedly morphs from young lover to creepy, decrepit vampire to wolf to demon. Throughout all of these aliases, Oldman infuses Dracula with a mournful, yearning spirit."
"Gary Oldman makes for what may be the most memorable Dracula ever (I challenge you to name another besides Bela Lugosi)"
"However, even the best set design and effects are useless if the actor portraying Dracula is unconvincing. Thankfully, Gary Oldman gives the performance of a lifetime, commanding every scene. His performance is mesmerizing. Even when quoting lines that we have all known for years, Oldman makes them sound fresh. Using an accent strongly patterned after Bela Lugosi, he never lets this trope slip into parody, instead fostering a sense of nostalgia. Even though Lugosi still performs the famous line, “Listen to them, children of the night! What music they make,” better than Oldman, Oldman surpasses Lugosi in most other respects, matching Max Schreck and Christopher Lee in quality of performance. He invests all of his emotional energy into the character, and in some scenes, such as his confrontation with Van Helsing, he is absolutely terrifying. And yet, in other scenes, such as the pre-credit sequence and his later scenes with Mina, Oldman portrays a real sadness and pathos. It is an electrifying performance."
"However the whole movie comes together because of Gary Oldman's intoxicating essence. He draws the viewers into his darkness and passion and guides them through until the end."
1371 7.5 7.94. True Romance (1993)
"The dreads, the thug appeal, and the menacing fury that make up Gary Oldman’s portrayal of Drexl is so perfect that Director Tony Scott could only allow him about 10 minutes of screen time because viewers wouldn’t be able to handle his swagger for the entire duration of the film. Oldman’s chameleon-like transformation and his hypnotizing charisma burns this performance into cinematic history."
"Gary Oldman is one of the all time greats, a character actor and a master of his craft. I have never watched one of his films and thought, “Well, he’s just phoning it in.” He looks like he is putting everything into each role he takes, making even a tiny character like Drexyl Spivey completely memorable.
In a film containing a sit down dialogue scene between the great Christopher Walken and the late great Dennis Hopper, where both men display their own not inconsiderible screen commanding talents, Gary Oldman and his portrayl of Drexyl, a white pimp who thinks he’s black, still manages to outshine the two.
Drexyl could easily have been played for laughs, and could have failed, in the hands of a lesser actor.The one eye, the scars, the drealocks, the accent, all were Oldman’s contributions to Drexyl, giving him some substance and much needed character. Oldman makes him menacing, with each little head movement and smirk, stealing the film for me even though he has only two short scenes."
Oldman did not disappoint. As a white pimp who tries to act black, he crafted yet another unique character in his long career, one totally removed from any other character he's ever played. He absorbs so deeply into this character and it serves as another example in the long line of roles that make him the first actor people think of when they hear the word "chameleon".
"As Drexel Spivey, Oldman chews the scenery, digests it, and then expels it from every orifice. Keep in mind that he is an English actor with a normal speaking voice at home in the Royal Shakespeare Company. His performance here is second only to his turn in LEON in blatant over-the-top insanity."
148 6.4 6.45. Romeo Is Bleeding (1993)
"In fact, 'Bleeding' is one of Oldman's best performances, embodying many of the attributes he's shown before and since, balancing the charisma of a simple man dancing with his wife in their backyard with the frenetic fear of a good-guy-gone-bad."
"Oldman's crooked cop in Peter Medak's twisted noir spends most of his time on screen in a fit of absolute confusion and denied fear. It's a playground for an actor like Oldman, who's best work sometimes can't be seen on the surface, rather it's seething below it, cresting with strokes of nuance that build throughout the performance. This unsung effort is a perfect example, quintessential, really."
"Oldman clearly has a taste for the wild side but outdoes himself as a self-deluding cop whose weakness for sex and money lets him tolerate no end of beatings, mutilations, humiliations and defeats."
"But the center of this movie is Gary Oldman. His blisteringly desperate performance as a corrupt cop at the end of the long slide to oblivion defines the movie and is both hypnotic and disturbing. His voiceovers are a worthy throwback to the old Raymond Chandler raps voiced by Bogart or Dick Powell or Robert Montgomery. This isn't a nice or likable character but Oldman is believably relatable as he inexorably tries to "feed the hole" with his greed and inevitably circles the existential drain."
"Gary Oldman is one of the best actors of his generation and nowhere is that comment more obvious than in his performance in this film. As Jack Grimaldi, his New York accent is spot-on. He creates a character which most people will recognize somewhere in his/her life and delivers it with such ease that you live Jack's life through this outstanding actor's performance."
268 7.1 7.26. Immortal Beloved (1994)
"Heading through so many highs and lows, from searing disgust and animosity to lust-filled abandon, Oldman's version of the composer feels wonderfully organic. The actor is at home in Beethoven's skin, and knows precisely how to evoke the disconnections rife in the icon's life."
"Playing the villain is Gary Oldman’s specialty, but that doesn’t mean he can’t do anything else. Oldman plays the legendary Beethoven with enormous conviction and a wealth of passion. With every note Oldman plays as Beethoven, it’s as if he is truly transforming his emotions into musical sound. Oldman as Beethoven is rage and bliss rolled in gold."
"Gary Oldman plays the Maestro with finesse and style, filled with all the emotion and angst Oldman is becoming famous for."
"Once again, the actor combined many nuances to play the maestro, but to an entirely new level. As Beethoven, his performance seeped from the screen in a way that destroyed any notion of an audience at arm's distance, ironic since the composer was an infamously belligerent and standoffish man. Nevertheless, bringing Bernard Rose's world to life was an exercise in perfectly stifled pain.
He takes two worlds highly foreign to most -- deafness and classical music -- and combines them in such a manner that one quickly begins to grasp Beethoven's life at odds -- a man desperate to reconnect with the music he can no longer hear, which makes him vastly misunderstood and loathed, while also yearning to express the notes running through his head."
3458 8.3 8.67. Léon: The Professional (1994)
"Gary Oldman puts in a frighteningly intense performance as the crooked DEA boss Stansfield. He appears to be listening to an internal opera as he chokes down his mysterious drugs and unleashes his considerable anger and natural cynicism on an unsuspecting world."
"Gary Oldman, as the corrupt DEA Agent Norman Stansfield, offers the viewers an amazingly wired and electrical performance which pushes the envelope. He moves the story along by his actions. Oldman offers us a memorable portrait of a sadistically obsessed man who stops short of nothing to get what he wants."
"This is one of the films that likely sparked a number of viewers to Oldman's capacity to deliver an electrifying performance in a limited amount of time. The actor blows into Luc Besson's "Léon" with ferocious focus and delirious aggression. As the most corrupt of nitrate pill-popping detectives, his big moment features his character delighting in the surgical shotgun snuffing of an entire family, the (ironic) notes of Beethoven bouncing in his head. "Bring me everyone… EVVEERRYYOONNEE!"
"Gary Oldman is sadistic and cynical but at the same time energetic and occasionally amusing. His character was despicable; however Oldman plays the role to perfection." (By Listal user PvtCaboose91)
"However, the show is well-and-truly stolen by Gary Oldman as Norman Stansfield, the creepy Beethoven-loving drug dealer. Both Leon and Mathilda are somewhat stoic characters, both played very straight by their actors. Oldman as Stansfield, on the other hand, just cuts loose. This is one of those performances that makes it even more unbelievable that Oldman’s first Oscar nomination was for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy."
"Gary Oldman is as usual, stunning in his performance, and he proves once again that he is a phenomenal actor. Oldman is truly an underrated talent in cinema."
1642 5.9 6.38. Air Force One (1997)
"If anyone can play a psychotic bitch’s bastard then it’s Gary Oldman. Here he’s a terrorist that has just hi-jacked Air Force One and clashes with President Indiana Jones. As Ivan, Oldman is cold, passionately devoted to success, and ruthless without being a cartoon character."
"Gary Oldman’s performance as the Mother Russia-spewing, merciless radical terrorist forerunner is comparable to such great villain roles as Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber. It’s not nearly as likeable or intelligent, but he brings a distinct authenticity to the part that’s scary, intense and unforgettable."
"Praise must go to Gary Oldman as Ivan Korshunov, leader of the group of terrorists. He excels at playing the bad guy but I think this character is something special. Usually the villain’s motives aren’t explained, they are de-humanised and the audience feels no sympathy for them. But far from being a crazy lunatic, he makes Korshunov human, which can be quite unsettling. There are times when his persuasive rhetoric (combined with a convincing Russian accent) makes you wonder if he isn’t just a regular guy who was pushed to the very edge and foolishly chose to resort to extreme methods. In using the argument, “You, who murdered a hundred thousand Iraqis to save a nickel on a gallon of gas, are going to lecture me on the rules of war?” he makes the audience see the Americans, and by association The President, in an unflattering light. Korshunov is a powerful character, and pitting him in opposition to the President adds an extra interesting facet to the film."
"Gary Oldman is superb as lead terrorist Ivan Korshunov. Delivering the calculated nature of a leader but also that deranged mind which also makes him menacing, it is as powerful a performance as that of Ford's."
845 7.2 7.19. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)
"This one is a unique piece of work for the actor, internalized, quiet, passive, observational, measured. He's mixed those elements into other performances but never boiled them down to such an essence. In a twist of irony, this is the role that puts him in front of a vast ensemble, rather than a small part of it, like we've seen so often."
"All these roles are played formidably, yet Gary Oldman’s Smiley is the plum role. In large glasses, with lank hair and an ill-fitting overcoat, his Smiley looks unimpressive, but has a razor-sharp brain and a touch of ruthlessness."
"We've never seen Oldman like this before, and he’s simply stunning: his soliloquy about his only meeting with his counterpart, the Soviet super-spy Karla, is so engrossing you forget to breathe. Alec Guinness immortalised Smiley in the 1970s TV version of this story, yet Oldman is easily his equal."
"Oldman's Smiley, so correct he even swims with those glasses on, is a man who by all appearances is tired, colorless and defeated, the drab epitome of the unthreatening drone with an unreliable wife thrown into the bargain. But in his methodical and imperturbable way, Smiley is a master at his game, someone you underestimate at your peril, and Oldman's quietly commanding performance fully understands the power inherent in restraint."
"Oldman's performance is superb, by the way, and not easy considering his flashier moments include trying on a new pair of eyeglasses and removing his shoes."
Other notable performances by Gary Oldman
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