Within days of becoming Prime Minister in the early period of World War 2, Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman, The Dark Knight) faces the tough task of deciding whether to explore a negotiated peace treaty with Hitler and Nazi Germany, or stand firm and fight for the freedom of the UK. As the unstoppable Nazi forces roll across Western Europe and the threat of invasion is imminent, and with an unprepared public, a skeptical King, and his own party plotting against him, Churchill must withstand his darkest hour, rally a nation, and attempt to change the course of world history.
Nominated for 6 Oscars (Best Makeup/Hairstyling, Best Picture, Best Actor – Gary Oldman, Best Cinematography, Best Costume & Best Production Design) and with Gary having already won Best Actor at the Golden Globes, Darkest Hour has a lot of attention right now. I love Gary (he will forever be Sirius Black from Harry Potter to me and therefore always have a place in my heart!) and here he is literally unrecognisable as Churchill due to the extensive costume he wears to turn him into this well-known character. It’s no wonder Gary is tipped to win an Oscar as his performance is outstanding, everything from his mannerisms to his clear torment as to which path to follow regarding the UK’s future, has you mesmerised. There are an awful lot of speeches made throughout this film but every one made by Oldman is full of passion and has you listening intently to every word.
It’s also no wonder that the cinematography has been picked up for an Oscar nomination too, it was something that I myself noticed as being excellent throughout! There is a great usage of different camera angles – often moving along with the characters – so we see all sides to the drama unfolding. There are also lots of extreme close ups on faces, particularly Winston’s, showing every emotion and making everything tense and dramatic. You can really feel the build up to Winston’s decision and the feelings of those around him, so much so that it’s like you’re right there with them.
The film is significantly led by Gary Oldman but the supporting cast is almost entirely British and full with familiar faces – it’s particularly nice to see a lot of our TV stars making it on to the big screen. Kristin Scott Thomas (Only God Forgives) is Clemmie, Churchill’s long-suffering wife. There are some very sweet scenes between the two, it’s clear they love each other very much but Clemmie knows she will always come second to Winston’s real love of politics. Winston’s immediate circle is made up of: Elisabeth (Lily James, Cinderella, Baby Driver) as Winston’s new typist, John (Joe Armstrong, Robin Hood), Sawyer (Philip Martin Brown, Waterloo Road) and Sir Anthony (Samuel West, Mr Selfridge). All brilliant actors and bringing Winston different angles when it comes to important decisions. These are just the characters we see the most, the rest of the cast includes so many other recognisable faces, making up a fantastic supporting cast.
Overall, Darkest Hour is a brilliant British film, it does centre very much on politics – there’s a lot of concentration needed to keep up! – but it’s also filled with moments of humour, love and sadness. It’s also very interesting to see the pressures Winston faced when it came to this huge momentous decision. After all, if he had gone the other way our lives would be very different today! Definitely a must see and I hope Gary receives the recognition he deserves.