If you don’t know who Gary Oldman is upon seeing the name, then I weep for your soul. He’s one of the best, most versatile actors in the biz right now. Very few actors disappear the way he can. So without further ado, the film festival!
Sid and Nancy (1986, dir. Alex Cox)
Starring Gary Oldman, Chloe Web
This was the one that helped Oldman breakout. His portrayal of seriously messed up Sex Pistol Sid Vicious is shocking, heartbreaking, and exhilarating all at once. Chloe Webb is equally fascinating as the crass Nancy Spungeon. Its completely evident why these two are in love. They are both so deep in the chaos of their lives, they cling to each other to keep from drowning. The tragedy of these two will tear your heart out. The final scene between them is one of the most emotionally painful performances I have seen on film. It was evident from early on that Oldman was an actor to watch.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992, dir. Francis Ford Coppola)
Starring Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Keanu Reeves, Anthony Hopkins, Cary Elwes, Billy Campbell, Richard E. Grant
This is not a good movie. It suffers from a lot of indulgence on the part of Coppola, and a lot of poor acting from Ryder and Reeves. What makes the film tolerable is a completely unrecognizable Oldman as the dastardly count himself! Oldman definitely ranks amongst Lugosi and Lee with his take on Dracula. His best performance comes as the decrepit older Dracula that Reeves encounters at the beginning of the film. The film proves that Oldman can make a self-indulgent piece of crap watchable just because of his awesomeness.
Leon/The Professional (1994, dir. Luc Besson)
Starring Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, Natalie Portman
Here Oldman takes on the role of Stansfield, a drugged out cop so crooked he murders an entire poor family. It seems the man of the house had gotten involved with Stansfield’s DEA unit and was hiding cocaine for them. Things go bad a little Matlilda is left an orphan, getting help and training from her neighbor/hitman, Leon. Oldman is the perfect villain for the film, at once charismatic and second later exploding and completely off his hinges. A scene. A scene where Stansfield and Matilda encounter each other in a public restroom is particularly unnerving.
The Fifth Element (1997, dir. Luc Besson)
Starring Bruce Willis, Milla Jovovich, Gary Oldman, Ian Holm
There were a lot of garish sci-fi films in the 1990s. But The Fifth Element is the only one that got that over the top sense just right. Oldman is industrialist Zorg, a schizophrenic Southerner who is obsessed with communicating with a cosmic force of evil and becoming one with it. To do this he must intercept a mysterious Fifth Element. Also on the search are Korben Dallas and Leeloo, the heroes of the film. This is a loud, obnoxious, insane film and it couldn’t be more fun.
Hannibal (2001, dir. Ridley Scott)
Starring Anthony Hopkins, Julianne Moore, Gary Oldman, Ray Liotta, Giancarlo Gianni
I don’t like this movie. It’s too long. It’s too dull. The one gem within it for me is Gary Oldman as the utterly disgusting Mason Verger. Verger had his face gnawed apart years ago by Hannibal Lecter, and is using his vast resources to capture Lecter and feed him to some hogs. Oldman delivers a gruesome, gurgling performance and amps the creep level up to 11. A film ONLY worth watching because of what Oldman brings to it.