Oscar voters have long shown an affinity for World War II. Furthermore, members of the Academy make no secret how baity a good biopic is to them. Earlier, we finally got a Trailer for a film that checks off all of those boxes. It’s Darkest Hour, the Winston Churchill biopic that seems tailer made for awards season. As an added bonus, it features acclaimed actor Gary Oldman in the starring role, giving him a chance to truly contend for a statue, as he only has a single nomination to his credit so far. You can see the Trailer at the end of this piece, but as always, a bit of discussion is in order first.
The movie looks at the time at the outset of the second World War, specifically as Winston Churchill (Oldman) became a comprise and unpopular choice for Prime Minister. Literally within days of taking the position offered to him by King George VI (Ben Mendelsohn), he’ll be faced with one of the country’s biggest challenges, namely…Adolf Hitler. Between exploring a potential negotiated peace treaty with Nazi Germany, dealing with opposing politicians within England, and attempting to stand firm for his ideals, as well as the liberty and freedom of his nation, Churchill will have a lot on his plate. It’s a period piece biopic through and through, at least by appearances. Joe Wright directs an original script by Anthony McCarten. Also in the cast are, among others, Lily James, Kristin Scott Thomas, Stephen Dillane, and Ronald Pickup. The cinematography comes by way of Bruno Delbonnel, while contributing the score is Dario Marianelli.
Frankly, I had been assuming that this could be a bit like taking medicine. The Trailer suggests that I wasn’t quite right, but I wasn’t too far off either. For sure, Oldman looks excellent, disappearing into the role. It’s exactly what voters usually love. On the other hand, it does seem slightly paint by numbers, as if there’s a roadmap to be followed to create this sort of thing. That could be a result of the Trailer being formulaic, but it’s not a stretch to assume that Oldman will easily be the highlight. As he goes, so goes the film, to some degree.
Assuming it lives up to Oscar worthiness, a full on campaign across the board should be in order for Darkest Hour. Even if it’s just solid, Oldman should fuel things. Look for attempts to be made in Best Picture, Best Director (for Wright), Best Actor (for Oldman), Best Supporting Actor (for Mendelsohn), Best Supporting Actress (for James and/or Scott Thomas), Best Original Screenplay (for McCarten), Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Makeup & Hairstyling, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Original Score, and Best Visual Effects. There’s a chance that this one actually could lead the nominations when all is said and done. At the very least, it’s a stretch to assume that Oldman isn’t at least sitting pretty for a nomination. Odds are, he’s one of the likeliest winner as well.
As you’ll see, Darkest Hour certainly seems to be up to the task of attracting Academy voters. The movie will be in the thick of the Oscar race, what with a November 22nd release date and all. Between Oldman’s juicy turn/lack of an Academy Award and Wright’s complete snub by the body to date, there are narratives to follow here. We’ll have to wait and see what ultimately comes of it all, but there’s no reason to really bet against this one yet. At the very least, Picture and Actor should be easy inclusions on any prediction list. In fact, tomorrow you’ll see a new set of mine, so sit tight to see what I think will happen to this flick. Spoiler alert, it won’t be shut out…
Here now is the Trailer for Darkest Hour:
Stay tuned for plenty more on Darkest Hour in the coming months!