Gary Oldman brings Winston Churchill to the big screen in ‘Darkest Hour’


Gary Oldman plays Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour Courtesy of Focus Features.

Angel Ortega

Gary Oldman delivers one of his best performances in Joe Wright’s “Darkest Hour.”

In Darkest Hour, Winston Churchill, portrayed by Oldman, is days away from becoming Prime Minister of the United Kingdom after the Labour Party requested the resignation of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain for being too weak to protect the United Kingdom from a possible Nazi invasion.

While Nazi Germany is invading Belgium, Netherlands and other countries in Western Europe, the threat of an invasion seems imminent for the people of Great Britain. Churchill must now decide whether to engage in peaceful negotiations with Nazi Germany or to fight for the ideals and freedom of his nation.

This film had a lot of great qualities. The writing and dialogue illustrated the tensions between Churchill and Parliament, while keeping a simplistic narrative that didn’t drag the overall plot of the film.

Ben Mendelsohn’s portrayal of King George VI was one of the more stand out supporting performances in the film. Mendelsohn truly captured the King’s personality and image by capturing George VI’s stammer, which he had suffered from for years, and his skepticism towards Churchill’s role as Prime Minister.

Though this movie serves as a great historical film depicting some of the most important moments of World War II, this film is far from perfect. Wright’s direction to make this film as dramatic as it is sincere is evident throughout the film. Many of the film’s most important scenes involved overuse of dramatic lighting and filming techniques to evoke emotional reactions from the audience, making this film “good” instead of “great.”

With that said, Oldman knocked it out of the park in this film. Oldman has proven repeatedly that his range as an actor is second to none, and Darkest Hour is no exception. The demeanor Oldman puts on and how he carries himself as Winston Churchill should serve as a prime example of what great acting looks like. Oldman truly embodied Churchill to deliver one of the best performances of the year.

On top of Oldman’s performance, the makeup artists who worked on Oldman truly captured the physical appearance of Churchill. Spending hours to create these cosmetic visual effects is time-consuming and laborious work that is often overlooked and underappreciated. Oldman’s Churchill serves as a reminder of how much work and patience goes into makeup in film.

Although Darkest Hour is far from perfect, it’s a very well-produced and important movie that depicts some of the most important moments of the 20th century. Oldman delivers one of the best performances of the year as Churchill and truly deserves his Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Drama Motion Picture. Overall, Darkest Hour is an exceptional film for those who love war dramas and biographical films.

Darkest Hour was recently featured at The Pageant and is on a limited release in select theaters.

Angel Ortega can be reached at [email protected] or @MrOrtega98 on Twitter.