In 2011, I had the opportunity to sit down with actor Gary Oldman to discuss his Oscar Nominated role in "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"; he portrayed George Smiley. He said of the role "...it's just a wonderful leading role and it's the sort of role that one, in a career, dreams about. It's a role that will come along once or twice."


Oldman can now sit back and take credit for getting that second great role in which he fully immerses himself into. He plays British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in Joe Wright's "Darkest Hour". Look for Oldman's name to come up regularly during awards season! His take on Churchill is reminiscent of Daniel Day Lewis' Abe Lincoln ("Lincoln"), Colin Firth's "King George ("The King's Speech") and Forest Whitaker's Idi Amin ("The Last King of Scottland"). It is a role in which Gary Oldman, the actor completely disappears and Winston Churchill appears.


Indeed, with the help of a daily routine that included up to four hours to apply makeup, Gary Oldman does indeed become Winston Churchill. With his ability to change his voice to suit the character, we are instantly transported back to the early days of World War II's European arena when England's Parliament was debating what to do with the then PM Nevelle Chamberlain (Ronald Pickup).

Much like Spielberg's "Lincoln", Tom Hooper's "The King's Speech" and Kevin Macdonald's "The Last King of Scotland", the film focuses on a moment in the life of the historic figure instead of his entire life. In this case, we get the few days leading up to England's official entry into the war and Chruchill's first few days as PM. [In "Lincoln", Spieldberg locked in on the last few days of the Civil War and Lincoln's arrival into the once Southern capital of Richmond VA.]


The Parliament is adamant about ousting Chamberlain as they consider his soft do nothing approach to Hitler's Nazi German as a disaster. The German's have invaded most of Europe and are now knocking on France's front door. The country needs a new PM and reluctantly the Parliament decides to go with Churchill who had long ago branded Hitler as a threat.


Churchill has heard the rumblings but also knows that he is not well liked by his peers. He has had a few errors and miscalculations to go with his disagreeable personality. A personality which he is unleashing on his newest typist Elizabeth (played by Lily James). His wife Clementine (Kristin Scott Thomas) smoothes that over, but it gives us the first look at Chruchill's hard line stance on everything.


We follow Churchill and Elizabeth into the war room bunker under Westminster Castle where Churchill plots strategy and prepares is rousing speech declaring the Germans the enemy. And it is in this claustrophobic sets that we get the brilliance of not only Oldman's performance but Wright's photography. Churchill is represented as a beacon of light in an otherwise grim situation. It should be noted that much like "Lincoln", we know this is a war movie only by the very, very brief scense of troop movement. There is an ironic reference to Churchill's call to save the soldiers stranded in Dunkirk - the subject of the outstanding film "Dunkirk".


The film has the unfair advantage of being an all-British cast that works together so seamlessly it's scary. But make no mistake, this is Oldman's movie and is probably his greatest shot at winning an Oscar.


"Darkest Hour" is Oscar bait extraordinaire. It is dialogue rich with unmatched performances from the cast; most notably Gary Oldman in the lead. One of the best films of the year, so far!   -- GEOFF BURTON