Darkest Hour Review

Darkest Hour Poster #1

Gary Oldman is one of those legendary actors who has never won an Academy Award. Although he’s only had one nomination, his performances always seem to be the odd man out when the rest of the field is strong. However, during some of the film festivals in September, word began circulating that Darkest Hour may finally be the film that gets Gary Oldman that elusive Oscar. But is his role as Winston Churchill worthy of such accolades?

You bet. Not only does Oldman deserve all the praise but he also deserves the all the awards as well. This is one of the best performances of his celebrated career.

Darkest Hour follows Winston Churchill during the early days of World War II. As the newly-appointed Prime Minister, Churchill must decide whether he must broker a peace with Hitler or fight against insurmountable odds.

Darkest Hour - Gary Oldman

Winston Churchill biopics are nothing new in Hollywood. But what makes Darkest Hour so different is its focus at the start of his Prime Minister career. It’s a part of his life that isn’t as widely known as his World War II exploits were. Yet it’s shocking to see that a story with this much political drama can go by without some sort of adaptation. Thankfully, the script by Anthony McCarten is able to skillfully weave these events along with his personal life. It shows us what kind of a man he was before he became the legendary man that helped defeat the Axis powers. Also, we’re able to get a more intimate look at who he was as well.

But those expecting to see a lot of World War II action will be sorely disappointed. First and foremost, Darkest Hour is a character drama. Thus, a majority of the film involves politicians debating about various topics about the war. There are a lot of dialogue and there are a lot of speeches.

But the film’s dialogue is thoroughly entertaining because of Gary Oldman. Oldman went through hours of makeup to turn into Winston Churchill. In turn, he completely immerses himself in the role and brings the legend to life. Not to mention, he is responsible for carrying the entire film on his back. This is clearly his film and Oldman knocks it out of the park. Sure, Churchill is still irritable and sarcastic, but there’s a warm and tender side to Churchill that we’ve never seen before. Oldman brings everything to the table.

Darkest Hour - Gary Oldman

As for the rest of the cast, they’re not as prominently featured as Oldman is. They’re not as well-rounded either. Be that as it may, Lily James is still impressive as Churchill’s secretary, Elizabeth Layton. She brings a delightfulness and charm to the role. Kristin Scott Thomas is faithful and strong as Churchill’s wife, Clementine. Sadly, both characters’ main role is to bring out this private side of Churchill.

Stephen Dillane is wonderful as Churchill’s main rival, Viscount Halifax. His calculating personality means he’s able to go toe-to-toe with the Prime Minister. In addition, he brings a kind of sleaziness to the role as well. Ronald Pickup is also fantastic as Churchill’s other opponent, Neville Chamberlain. Unlike Halifax, Chamberlain takes more of a leadership role within the opposing political party. Pickup provides the kind of gravitas needed for the role. Lastly, Ben Mendelsohn surely is solid as King George VI. His stuttering delivery is different enough to separate himself from the other King George interpretations.

Overall, Darkest Hour is a fitting vehicle to showcase the many talents of Gary Oldman. The film entirely revolves around him and he’s able to elevate his game to another level. Without him, however, the film would be just your standard dramatic biopic. Gary Oldman, you’re the real MVP.

Rating: 3.5/5 atoms

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