Leo’s Top 5 Gary Oldman Movies

Written by Leo Panasyuk March 30, 2013

When I think of Gary Oldman, I think of a chameleon. No, not because he reminds me of a tropical lizard but because he completely transforms himself into his roles that he almost because another person entirely. Throughout his career, Gary Oldman has portrayed a wide variety of characters ranging from a vampire to a wizard to a terrorist to a police commissioner so already it becomes difficult to narrow his roles down to five utterly amazing ones. Even though it saddens me to omit his roles in “Sid and Nancy” and “Dracula” as I have yet to see them, here are my top five roles played by the great Gary Oldman.

5) Mason Verger – “Hannibal” (2001)

Gary Oldman. Always looking sharp.

Gary Oldman. Always looking sharp.

Believe it or not but beneath all that makeup and prosthetics lies an actor. In “Hannibal”, Gary Oldman plays Mason Verger, a wealthy pedophile who, at the suggestion of Hannibal Lecter, disfigured his own face in a drug-induced state. What is left is a man who is fueled by revenge and a terrible complexion. What made Oldman’s character so excellent in this film was simply the fact that he was unrecognizable yet played such a convincing character that it was, at times, scary. Even though he is not as despicably portrayed as he is in the novel, he is still quite a feat to watch.

4) Drexl Spivey – “True Romance” (1993)

No Englishman has ever made dreadlocks look this good.

No Englishman has ever made dreadlocks look this good.

Gary Oldman’s small but sweet role in “True Romance” as the pimp Drexl Spivey may not be one of his most iconic roles, but is certainly noteworthy enough to be included in this list. Oldman really transformed himself for this role and his accent, looks and even mannerisms make him completely unrecognizable. Just watching Oldman play as Spivey is mesmerizing, as he embodies the persona of a cold, Detroit pimp so well that you actually believe he’s for real.

3) Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg – “The Fifth Element” (1997)

Admit it. This is the coolest villain you've ever seen.

Admit it. This is the coolest villain you’ve ever seen.

“The Fifth Element” has got to be one of my absolute favourite sci-fi films of all time. And like each great sci-fi film before it, it features an amazing antagonist. What makes Oldman’s character Zorg so incredible is that he has the best haircut, best fashion sense and a personality bordering on theatrical and sociopathic. He definitely may not look like villain material but he delivers so well and with such style that it’s hard not to love him. Also, his soul patch is pretty badass.

2) George Smiley – “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” (2011)

The second coolest British agent of all time.

The second coolest British agent of all time.

Oldman’s character of George Smiley in the film adaptation of John le Carre’s novel is nothing short of amazing. Oldman’s performance in this film was certainly one of the high points in his career and proved that even after all this time, he can still deliver a knockout performance. Backed by an all-star English cast, Oldman is impeccable in his role as the aged British agent and I firmly believe this is the role that should have won him his long-overdue Oscar.

1) Norman Stansfield – “Leon: The Professional” (1994)

Not your average Beethoven or Mozart enthusiast.

Not your average Beethoven or Mozart enthusiast.

Though Gary Oldman has performed in many great roles as the aforementioned list proves, none are more graceful and terrifying than his role as the corrupt, drug-addicted DEA agent Norman Stansfield. Though most of his roles featured in this list are those of criminals/villains, none hold a candle to Stansfield. As an unpredictable and violent man who has no qualms about butchering an entire family in their own apartment while listening to classical music, Norman Stansfield becomes one of the most memorable villains in cinematic history and situates himself perfectly at the top of this list.

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About Leo Panasyuk

A fan of all things film, Leo never really lets himself get tied down to one specific genre. He's always interested in watching new and old films and especially loves the IMAX format. When he's not choosing which movie to watch next, he's studying Film and English at Western University.

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