There is always an Oscar bait film that is focused on depicting a historical figure in a certain light to make an awards campaign for an instant Oscar — but there are films like these that Gary Oldman goes beyond the checklist to create a performance that is memorable and impactful in making his performance of Winston Churchill look human. Gary Oldman does one of his best performances here. I would definitely say that he is worthy of his nominations for this film — even with his previous statements personally about a controversial public figure (Gibson), he shouldn’t be punished for saying than doing something terrible.
The film itself I found while watching is an amazing companion piece to Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk.” Throughout that film I struggled to figure out what was going on and having little to no context I felt a little lost. While watching this I started to understand the perspective of why the solider’s were in that situation in that film — because of the government decisions and political issues happening in the UK in this film. Though both of the films do help each other out — they do have the same conclusion which kind of cancel each other out. One of Darkest Hours better strengths in comparison is its recognizable supporting cast including Lily James, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Ben Mendelsohn. Each of them add something distinct in their performance but never do outshine Gary Oldman.
You can not reason with a Tiger when your head is in its mouth.
The production design of the film makes it feel like both a “Harry Potter” film and an episode of “The Crown” in the most positive of light. The British nostalgia and rich artistry is shown on the screen. You can feel the tone being set by Joe Wright in his direction and choices in continuing the story. The title designs throughout the film in showing the passage of time were strong with the typographical choices and the motion they went through like a slot machine mixed with a typewriter.
Some of my negatives with the film mainly revolve around the dialogue pieces. There are a fair too many talking sequences that cause the viewer to lose interest at points that you feel you’re just watching people talk then being actively engaged. The screenwriters did manage to inject a few moments of humor to keep the audience’s attention so that the film isn’t drab or taken down by its heavy subjects of government power and rule. I did appreciate that. Though If I hadn’t seen Dunkirk I wouldn’t be as heavily invested as I would have been not knowing what happens in the War.
I would recommend this film to any historical buff or anyone who likes films centered around the UK. It will definitely be nominated for some awards but not sure how many if at all it will win.