With the Oscars coming up, it is a great time to take a look back at what the Academy has deemed as the best films of the year.
Looking at the list of best picture nominees, I recognized a few titles, but the one that stood out to me was “Darkest Hour.”
This jumped out at me not because I had heard the press talking about it nonstop or because I had already seen it and thought that it deserved the nomination, but because I had only seen a couple advertisements when it came out in November and heard nothing else about it. Yet it is nominated for six Academy Awards.
So in honor of this, I decided to give it a watch, and I cannot recommend “Darkest Hour” enough.
The film opens in the early months of World War II, with the British Parliament in shambles as it searches for a replacement for its decidedly incompetent Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain.
Chamberlain’s replacement was decided to be Winston Churchill, played by Gary Oldman, to the dismay of many of his opposing party’s members.
Known better at the time for his temperamental attitude and his failure at the Gallipoli Campaign in World War I, appointing Churchill to prime minister was a huge gamble, which throughout the course of the film, pays immense dividends in the end as he leads the country toward the common goal of defeating the Nazis no matter the cost.
While all the performances in “Darkest Hour” are superb, Gary Oldman’s portrayal as Churchill stands above the rest by far.
Oldman has nailed the nuances and minutiae of Churchill’s very being to the point where the two are nearly indistinguishable.
His mannerisms and movements perfectly emulate newsreels and recordings from the time.
The most crucial element of Churchill’s personality that Oldman embraces fully is his sense of humor and wit.
Small moments of subtle humor breathe life into the movie and keeps audience members at full attention as they wonder what is going to come out of Churchill’s mouth next.
With these elements in mind, it is no surprise that he is nominated for best actor.
Some of the behind the scenes elements of “Darkest Hour” are exceptional as well.
The cinematography and score both add a tactile element that improves the quality of an already great film.
The art direction and production design are absolutely stunning and create a visceral viewing experience that brings the setting of 1940s London to life.
Overall, “Darkest Hour” is by far the best historical film I have seen since 2012’s “Lincoln,” and I would recommend it to everybody.
This is a film you have to see. It is thought provoking, funny and most of all, thoroughly entertaining.
If you see one movie before the Oscars, let it be “Darkest Hour.”