Gary Oldman is the epitome of versatility. He is celebrated for the wide variety of roles his filmography boasts and his performances cannot be pigeonholed into a particular genre.
With an effortless capacity of adopting any accent and doing extensive research for his role, his “anti-social” persona spills into his films that has helped cement his brilliant legacy as one of the finest actors in the cinematic landscape.
Oldman is a fan of using the old immersion technique in his roles where he adopts the larger-than-life personality in his roles by involving over-acting. Gary Oldman, who has dealt with addiction and sobriety for quite some time, has done various odd jobs to live his dream of being an actor someday.
A well-known thespian, Oldman has always owed his intense work ethic to his theatre days. Oldman rose to prominence with three major films, namely Sid and Nancy, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead and Prick Up Your Ears.
Known to Harry Potter fans as Sirius Black, Oldman is an incomparable creative force in the industry. For his 64th birthday, watch his five best films on Netflix now:
5 best Gary Oldman films on Netflix
5. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (Francis Ford Coppola, 1992)
Adapted from Bram Stoker’s legendary 1987 novel, Dracula the film revolves around the most celebrated vampire in the history of literature, Count Dracula. In this operatic saga, Dracula comes across a lookalike of his dead wife and decides to pursue her. However, her engagement to a young lawyer stands in the way of his blood-soaked warpath.
Coppola’s star-studded ensemble includes Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Keanu Reeves and others, with a voiceover by Anthony Hopkins. While Ryder and Oldman had a few issues on set, Oldman reportedly took up the offer to deliver the iconic line “I’ve crossed oceans of time to find you”. His portrayal of the menacing Count is monumental and exists as a claustrophobic and vile epitome of undying love.
4. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Tomas Alfredson, 2011)
Based on John Le Carre’s novel, this engaging drama includes a terrific ensemble, namely Oldman, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hardy, Colin Firth etc. With brilliant performances and intense chase sequences, this old-fashioned espionage tale shows a brilliant battle of wits in a brutal environment of bureaucracy. It is also a brilliant examination of loneliness, psychology and more.
Oldman has always been very vocal about his disdain towards the popular spy, James Bond aka 007. However, he gives an impeccable performance as the taciturn middle-aged MI6 agent who is on a mission to find out the mole at the heart of their organisation which is laced with manipulation and cunning genius.
3. Darkest Hour (Joe Wright, 2017)
Gary Oldman won an Academy Award for his marvellous performance as Winston Churchill in the film. He brought the Prime Minister to life with effortless adeptness only characteristic of an actor of his stature. While people criticised the film’s narrative, his distinguished performance makes the film worth the watch as he upholds the conflicts and anxieties of a man as he faces the darkest hour in the history of mankind.
Beginning at the height of the Second World War, Churchill assumes office after Neville Chamberlain is forced to resign. Party members rally against him and he is compelled to explore peaceful negotiations with Nazi Germany in the wake of another attack. The film records these turbulent times as Churchill’s decisions need to save the nation from inevitable destruction and change the course of history forever.
2. Mank (David Fincher, 2020)
This monochromatic film gives an intimate insight into the world of Hollywood, its megalomania, the process of filmmaking and others through the jaded eyes of the raging alcoholic screenwriter and legendary talent, Herman J Mankiewicz. Mankiewicz is summoned by the wunderkind Orson Welles to write the script for Citizen Kane amidst the Great Depression and the inevitable Second World War.
Oldman as Mankiewicz is a revelation. Surviving Fincher’s gruelling, endless takes, Olman’s brilliant performance in the film, coupled with the extraordinary visuals, serve as a time machine into the past, alongside Fincher’s incredible examination of Mankiewicz’s character.
1. Sid & Nancy (Alex Cox, 1986)
Based on the real-life story of Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious, this biographical film traces his career trajectory as he meets a heroin addict named Nancy. Together, after initial hiccups, they embark on a drug-fuelled odyssey of doubts, self-sabotaging and self-destruction that has a negative impact on Vicious’ relationship with music and his band members. Further usage of drugs ultimately led to his untimely downfall.
Although Oldman was not very convinced of his performance as the tormented Vicious, critics have hailed his outstanding and tragic performance in this Romeo and Juliet-like romance odyssey.
Initially, Oldman rejected the role twice as he found the script “banal” and was relatively unaware of the punk movement. However, he put in the immense effort, including starving himself to lose weight to play Sid, which landed him in the hospital.