Gary Oldman is perhaps the greatest living actor to never win an Academy Award. Neal Damiano takes a look at this uniquely talented man.
10. Interstate 60 (Gale, 2002)
This is the second time Interstate 60 has appeared on one of my lists, a very entertaining film that did not receive much publicity or promotion. The film stars Gary Oldman as a devious but lovable leprechaun that may or not be real. He guides the main character (James Marsden) on a road trip through all sorts of twists and turns, while meeting
some rather quirky people. Oldman is not known typically for playing comedic roles, but he knocks it right out of the park here.
9. Basquiat (Schnabel, 1996)
Basquiat is an excellent biopic on Jean Michel Basquiat the graffiti artist turned Andy Warhol protege. At the young age of 27 he met an early death due to drugs. Oldman plays Albert Milo, a loose portrayal of fellow artist and director Julian Schnabel, although a small role Oldman owned it, capturing the intense love Schnabel has for art and the friendship he had with Basquiat.
8. Murder In The First (Rocco, 1995)
A very well made film based on a court case in the 30s about three convicts that escaped from Alcatraz. Gary Oldman’s performance as a brutal prison warden is so intense and right on. After viewing do not be surprised to dislike Oldman for only a brief second.
7. Dracula (Coppola, 1992)
Francis Coppola’s rendition of Bram Stoker’s famous novel is truly astonishing, but it was Oldman’s dark and sensual performance as Dracula that stole the show. I feel this was the best portrayal of Dracula ever on film. He completely hypnotizes the audience with his voice and persona. A truly frightening display of a blood sucking iconic monster.
6. The Fifth Element (Besson, 1997)
Oldman is fascinating as the film’s villain, Zorg. Never has “silly acting” been so entertaining and interesting. Though by no means the most dangerous or frightening cinematic villain, Oldman’s performance is a blast to watch, and you can’t help but smile whenever his presence emerges onscreen.
5. State Of Grace (Joanou, 1990)
Oldman plays Jackie Flannery in this electrifying gangster film of the early 90s. First off this is one of the best gangster films I have ever seen. It includes an all star cast of amazing actors portraying the violent Irish mobsters of Hell’s Kitchen in the 80s. What makes State Of Grace so great: the acting. Oldman radiates with charisma and ferocious violence through the whole film.
4. Sid & Nancy (Cox, 1986)
Gary Oldman’s portrayal of punk legend Sid Vicious is spot on. He must have channeled Sid’s spirit in a séance. He plays the iconic punk right down to the clothes and mannerisms. Oldman’s balance is quite exceptional, he doesn’t lose his signature self in the role, but maintains in character fearlessly.
3. True Romance (Scott, 1993)
What can I say about this film? True Romance is probably my favorite Tarantino film to date, mainly because of the characters. A lot of that has to do with Gary Oldman’s performance as Drexl, a pimp/drug dealer sporting dreadlocks and gold teeth, complete with a scar on his face. Oldman has some of the funniest one liners including “He must have thought it was white boy day, it ain’t white boy day is it?”
2. Romeo Is Bleeding (Medak, 1993)
Romeo Is Bleeding is my favorite modern day film noir. Oldman plays Jack Grimaldi a crooked cop giving up witnesses to the mob. Oldman plays this role with such greed and intensity, becoming the ultimate anti hero. He has so much charisma and bravado, one can’t help but develop a love/hate relationship with the character. I really enjoyed this film’s exceptional story line.
1. The Professional (Leon) (Besson, 1994)
This is Oldman’s sleaziest character to date, and happens to be my favorite performance by him. He plays Stansfield, a corrupt agent, who pops pills and listens to Beethoven. There’s no question this role is psychotic but Oldman almost plays it with a humorous appeal. His dialogue is outrageously funny, throwing tantrums as a kid would, if they did not get what they wanted. He is so convincing as a dirt bag, it’s literally scary. I feel no one could have played this role better. One memorable line “I like these calm moments before the storm”. Oldman should have won an Oscar here!
Written and compiled by Neal Damiano.
About the Author
Neal Damiano calls himself “an unhip film geek” who mixes his passion for movies with an enthusiasm for travel, music and journalism.