Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Prudent Purchase List – February

Prudent Purchase New Releases:

1.)                A Serious Man [Blu-ray/DVD] – Feb 9

Other New Releases/Updates:

1.)                Zombieland [Blu-ray/DVD] – Feb 2
2.)                Casablanca [Blu-ray] – Feb 2
3.)                Goodfellas (20th Anniversary Edition) [Blu-ray] – Feb 16
4.)                The Box [Blu-ray/DVD] – Feb 23
5.)                The Damned United [Blu-ray/DVD] – Feb 23

Must Own of the Month:

A Single Man [Blu-ray]

Monday, January 25, 2010

Top 25 Directors of the Decade (2000-2009)

This list is based on looking at one hundred and seven of the most important, influential and well known directors working in the decade (though I am sure there are a few I should have included or forgot about, or do not know). Each director was given a score based on the average review score given to all their qualifying films made in the decade. Only feature films were used in calculating a score, only directors that made at least two feature films (at least one being live action) qualified for the list and only feature films that saw a theatrical release in the decade qualified. Here are the top twenty five reviewed directors and below them the top five one film directors:

Top 25 Directors:

1.)                Christopher NolanMemento (2000), Insomnia (2002), Batman Begins (2005), The Prestige (2006) , and The Dark Knight (2008)

2.)                Jean-Pierre JeunetAmelie (2001) and A Very Long Engagement (2004)

3.)                Darren AronofskyRequiem for a Dream (2000), The Fountain (2006) and The Wrestler (2008)

5.)                Quentin TarantinoKill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003), Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004), Death Proof (2007), and Inglourious Basterds (2009)

6.)                Alejandro Gonzalez InarrituAmores Perros (2000), 21 Grams (2003) and Babel (2006)

7.)                Jason ReitmanThank You for Smoking (2005), Juno (2007) and Up in the Air (2009)

8.)                Paul GreengrassBloody Sunday (2002), The Bourne Supremacy (2004), United 93 (2006), and The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

9.)                Alfonso CuaronY Tu Mama Tambien (2001), Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) and Children of Men (2006)

10.)            Martin ScorseseGangs of New York (2002), The Aviator (2004) and The Departed (2006)

11.)            Paul Thomas AndersonPunch-Drunk Love (2002) and There Will Be Love (2007)

12.)            Michael MooreBowling for Columbine (2002), Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004), Sicko (2007), and Capitalism: A Love Story (2009)

13.)            Paul HaggisCrash (2005) and In the Valley of Elah (2007)

14.)            Spike JonzeAdaptation. (2002) and Where the Wild Things Are (2009)

15.)            Roman PolanskiThe Pianist (2002) and Oliver Twist (2005)

16.)            Fernando MeirellesCity of God (2002), The Constant Gardener (2005) and Blindness (2008)

17.)            Edward ZwickThe Last Samurai (2003), Blood Diamond (2006) and Defiance (2008)

18.)            Stephen DaldryBilly Elliot (2000), The Hours (2002) and The Reader (2008)

19.)            Chan-wook ParkJoint Security Area (2000), Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002), Oldboy (2003), Lady Vengeance (2005), I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK (2006), and Thirst (2009)

20.)            Zack SnyderDawn of the Dead (2004), 300 (2006) and Watchman (2009)

21.)            Julian SchnabelBefore Night Falls (2000) and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)

22.)            Pedro AlmodovarTalk to Her (2002), Bad Education (2004), Volver (2006), and Broken Embraces (2009)

23.)            David FincherPanic Room (2002), Zodiac (2007) and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

24.)            Jean-Marc ValleeC.R.A.Z.Y. (2005) and The Young Victoria (2009)

25.)            Wes AndersonThe Royal Tenenbaums (2001), The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004), The Darjeeling Limited (2007), and Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

Top Reviewed One-Film Directors:

1.)                Florian Henckel von DonnersmarckThe Lives of Others (2006)
2.)                Neill BlomkampDistrict 9 (2009)
3.)                Tomas Alfredson - Let the Right One In (2008)
4.)                Tom FordA Single Man (2009)
5.)                Cristian Mungiu4 months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days (2007)

Directors used in survey (in order of score):

Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, Neill Blomkamp, Christopher Nolan, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Darren Aronofsky, Tomas Alfredson, Tom Ford, Peter Jackson, Quentin Tarantino, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Jason Reitman, Cristian Mungiu, Paul Greengrass, Alfonso Cuaron, Martin Scorsese, Paul Thomas Anderson, Michael Moore, Paul Haggis, Spike Jonze, Roman Polanski, Fernando Meirelles, Edward Zwick, Stephen Daldry, Chan-wook Park, Zack Snyder, Julian Schnabel, Pedro Almodovar, David Fincher, Bennett Miller, Jean-Marc Vallee, Wes Anderson, Clint Eastwood, J.J. Abrams, Alexander Payne, David Lynch, Greg Mottola, Joe Wright, Yimou Zhang, Sam Mendes, David Yates, Mel Gibson, Peter Weir, Kar Wai Wong, Mike Leigh, Neil Burger, Oliver Hirschbiegel, The Coen Brothers, Judd Apatow, Werner Herzog, Ridley Scott, Guillermo del Toro, Jacques Audiard, George Lucus, James Cameron, Danny Boyle, Roger Donaldson, James Mangold, Bryan Singer, Ang Lee, Michel Gondry, Stephen Frears, Steven Spielberg, Tim Burton, Sophia Coppola, David Gordon Green, Cameron Crowe, Richard Linklater, Sam Raimi, Cedric Klapisch, Frank Darabont, Mary Harron, Mike Nichols, Gore Verbinski, Rob Marshall, Ron Howard, Robert Zemeckis, Kevin Smith, Tony Gilroy, Michael Mann, Lasse Hallstrom, Peter Berg, Terrence Malick, Jon Favreau, Woody Allen, Gus Van Sant, Noah Baumbach, Kathryn Bigelow, Tony Scott, The Hughes Brothers, David Mamet, Paul Verhoeven, Todd Phillips, Adam McKay, Richard Kelly, Steven Soderbergh, The Wachowski Brothers, Terry Gilliam, Gil Kenan, Guy Ritchie, Jim Sheridan, Michael Bay, Luc Besson, M. Night Shyamalan, Martin Campbell, Robert Rodriguez, Rob Reiner, and Oliver Stone

Movie of the Week - Suspicion

This week’s movie is Suspicion (1941).

The film is about a shy bookish young woman who meets a handsome and outgoing man whom she falls in love with and marries. But something is not right; she begins to suspect that he is planning to murder her. Cary Grant and Joan Fontaine (for which she won an Oscar) star in Alfred Hitchcock’s romantic comedy/thriller, which was nominated for best picture. What makes the film great is the chemistry between Grant and Fontaine and the way they play off each other (and sadly it was their only film in which they play leading characters opposite one and other, they were both in Gunga Din, but Fontaine’s role was quite small). Hitchcock’s directing is also in good form – playful while building tension. Carrying over from Rebecca, he also uses shadows well in the composition of his shots. The film perfectly blends the elements of a rom-com and a thriller, which is a characteristic of many of Hitchcock’s films, but here he is at the top of his game – the viewer will laugh and be on the edge of their seat almost simultaneously. Check out the trailer.

Suspicion [DVD]

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

LeapBackBlog 2009 Film Awards

Top Ten Films

Directed by Greg Mottola, the film is about a recent college graduate that has to trade a summer in Europe for a summer working at a crummy worn-down amusement park. The film succeeds on the awkwardness and thrill of young love, with a dose of 80s nostalgia thrown in for good measure. Stars Jesse Eisenberg and Kristin Stewart do fine work, and along with the rest of the cast bring the film to life and amplify it above the run-of-the-mill teen/early twenties dramas. Check out the trailer.

Directed by James Cameron, the film is about a soldier that inhabits an avatar made to look like one of the native people of Pandora in order for him and the military to learn about their culture and more deviously to find out where to exploit them for the precious resources of their home world. However, the tables are turned when the soldier begins to have feelings for one of the natives. In 3-D, the film is the most exciting and amazing theatre experience of the year. The world that Cameron has created to fit the new technology is wondrous and takes full advantage of its potential. Avatar is a must-see in 3-D. And while the story is nothing new, the film is none the less a masterpiece of its time. Check out the trailer.

Directed by Neill Blomkamp, the film is about a social worker in South Africa that is charged with heading up the relocation of alien inhabitants, the Prawns, of a slum in the city. Everything is going fine until the social worker is exposed to an extraterrestrial chemical that begins to change his biochemistry and he joins forces with the Prawns to help a few escape Earth. Blomkamp’s film is a fantastic mixture of buddy-action and sci-fi genres. The film is also a relevant social commentary on slum life, and the class prejudice that exists. Overall, District 9 is just a lot of fun. Check out the trailer.

Directed by Wes Anderson, the film is about a fox, having settled into family life, still craving adventure, only to act on his craving putting his family and community in danger. Now, it is up to him to right his wrongs and save the day. Artfully composed, the stop-motion animation in the film meshing with Anderson’s abundant style and cool elicits a fun atmosphere in the theatre. The characters feel warm, and, with an all-star cast voicing them, they are very likable. The film has a wry wit to it and if nothing else is magnificent purely on an aesthetic level. Check out the trailer.

Directed by David Yates, the film is the sixth adventure for Harry and friends. This time Harry must extract a memory from a new professor at Hogwarts as it is essential to defeating Voldemort. Meanwhile, Drako has a nefarious task of his own. Harry, Ron and Hermione must also battle a difficult new foe, young love. The film is really two films occupying the same space, one of a mystery with dark undertones and the other a romantic comedy with melodramatic tones. Yates’ ability to transition between the two is masterful – one minute the view is laughing, the next engrossed in dread and despair. Yates is also able to foster great performances from his young cast. The film is both bleak and hopeful and sets up the upcoming two-part conclusion nicely. Check out the trailer.

Directed by Quentin Tarantino, the film is about a fictional end to the Third Reich in Nazi occupied France. The film features wonderfully vibrant outrageous characters, if not completely theatrical. Structured into four stories all of which come to a head in the fifth and concluding chapter, the film is able to superbly incorporate violence, emotion, laughs, and gasps all in the same breath. Tarantino’s writing is at its best in the film as well, as it features a few of the best scenes of the year. Check out the trailer.

Directed by Michael Mann, the film is about the exploits of John Dillinger, from his escape from prison to his ultimate death at the hands of the law. The film features wonderful performances across its star cast. But what stands out most about the film is Mann’s direction. His use of the camera to show the way Dillinger felt, the police ever closing in on him – the viewer literally feels claustrophobic at times. Mann shot the film completely digital, which some reject as an appropriate medium, but in this case makes the film feel grittier and adds to the overall composition and experience that Mann wants the audience to feel. The film is probably the most underrated of the year. Check out the trailer.

Directed by the Coen Brothers, the film is about a man whose life begins to fall apart around him. The film is a fantastic character piece of a man who no matter what he does is completely inadequate. His life is seemingly in ruins and there is simple nothing to be done, no matter how hard he tries. The film is darkly funny and features typical top-notch Coen brothers’ style both in shot composition and writing. Check out the trailer.

Directed by J.J. Abrams, the film is about the origin of the crew of the Enterprise, specifically Spock and Kirk, and their first mission to defeat a Vulcan from the future with aspirations of destroying all that they hold dear. The film features a cast that works quite well together and is certainly one that viewers look forward to seeing in action together again. Abrams is able to reimaging Trek as a more action oriented film, but still with character and emotion, which made this film exciting and one of the best blockbuster film experiences of the summer. Check out the trailer.

Directed by Pete Docter, the film is about an old man about to lose his house that decides to finally take the adventure of a lifetime, and one that he had been planning for a lifetime. The film is charming, surprisingly sad, yet sweet, and full of wonder and great characters. Pixar continues to make the best animated films year after year and this is one of their best of the decade. Docter’s opening sequence is one of the most beautiful and heart-wrenching in cinema history. How can Pixar top this? Check out the trailer.

Top Directorial Efforts

James Cameron – Avatar
Neill Blomkamp – District 9
David Yates – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Quentin Tarantino – Inglourious Basterds
Michael Mann – Public Enemies
Joel & Ethan Coen – A Serious Man

Top Leading Performances

Sharlto Copley – District 9
Michael Stuhlbarg – A Serious Man
Colin Firth – A Single Man

Top Supporting Performances

Zoe Saldana – Avatar
Alfred Molina – An Education
Jim Broadbent – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Michael Gambon – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Christoph Waltz – Inglourious Basterds
Melanie Laurent – Inglourious Basterds
Diane Kruger – Inglourious Basterds
Stanley Tucci – The Lovely Bones
Christian Bale – Public Enemies

Top Technical Achievements

Mauro Fiore – Cinematography – Avatar
Arcade Fire – Score – The Box
Mark Gustafson – Animation – Fantastic Mr. Fox
Bruno Delbonnel – Cinematography – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Nicholas Hooper – Score – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Robert Richardson – Cinematography – Inglourious Basterds
David Wasco – Production Design – Inglourious Basterds
Dante Spinotti – Cinematography – Public Enemies
Roger Deakins – Cinematography – A Serious Man
Michael Giacchino – Score – Up
Lance Acord – Cinematography – Where the Wild Things Are

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Book of Eli (2010) – Review

The Book of Eli is a brutal action film elevated by deeper meaning. Or, it is a spiritual film with scenes of coarse violence. It is hard to say which of these categories it best fits. Certainly, there are scenes of action that are shot in typical Hughes Brothers’ fashion – artistically poetic, yet ruthless and unflinching (Denzel straight cuts some dude’s head off with a machete). The film does not try to defer its meaning to the subtext, it is right out there for the viewer to see. This is a movie about faith, religion and its power. The book is referred to as the salvation of humanity and a weapon to enslave humanity, depending on whose hands it might fall. Eli’s book is the last of its kind as the apocalypse is inferred to have been started at least in some way due to religion and thus all copies of the book were sot out and destroyed (save one) to prevent it happening again. Thus the nature of power in the wrong hands is shown to have caused such destruction and yet Eli still journeys to bring the book to where it is needed, as humanity starts again the book is still thought to be a valued component to the rebirth of culture, when humanity begins again they can correct the wrongs and live out the sincere nature of the book. Eli is represented as one of unwavering faith, but still human, much like those of stories told in holy books, that must carry out a mission, or are spoken to by a higher calling. His journey is guided by faith and he is only but a servant to the will of that faith. Carnegie, the boss of a small town Eli travels through, represents the misuse of the power that comes from the book. He sees that the words in the book have the ability to make people fall under his control, and he seeks to use these words purely to expand his empire (whether his deeper motivations are for peace, merely power for the sake of power, or something more nefarious is debatable, there are aspects of him that represent each, but mostly he is shown as wicked, unfeeling and cruel). The film creates an interesting analogy for the way the book (pick the religion of your liking) is used in many cases in today’s world – while some are indeed noble, sadly it seems that more often they are like those of Carnegie’s aspersions. The shooting style of the film is cool, featuring the typical Hughes Brothers’ fluid camera, landscapes void of bright colors making the terrain and world appear quite harsh and characters that seem right out of Borderlands (a post-apocalyptic video game). Don Burgess did a great job shooting the film digitally. The Hughes Brothers set up the narrative to play like a western: solo traveler that is just passing through, gets wrapped up in a dispute with the town’s evil boss. It worked well as a structure. The music used in the film (both original and found) really helped set the mood of the picture and establish the character of Eli and his journey. Acting wise, Denzel Washington gives a fine subtle performance, which really strengthens the storytelling of the film as a whole. Gary Oldman is not really given a lot to work with in terms of character (he is mainly just an evil dude), but even so is good. Mila Kunis is not great, but she is not bad either, and ultimately seems to fit the role. But it is Washington’s film, his journey, and he carries it well. The Book of Eli has intense action, sure to excite any avid fan, a good message and does justice to the (in a sense western as well as) post-apocalyptic genre. 8/10

Movie of the Week - The Hudsucker Proxy

This week’s movie is The Hudsucker Proxy (1994).

The Hudsucker Proxy is about a na├»ve recent business graduate who comes to New York City looking for a job. At first he has trouble finding one, but eventually he does one in the mailroom of Hudsucker Industries only to become a pawn, as the company’s board installs him as President in an effort to drive the price of the company stock down so that they can buy it all up. The film is written and directed by the Coen Brothers and features writing and second-unit directing by Sam Raimi (and you can see his style in the second-unit stuff). What makes the film great is its harkening back to films of the late 30s and early 40s – Jennifer Jason Leigh’s character is practically right out of His Girl Friday. There is excellent cinematography by Roger Deakins and great music by Cater Burwell (who often collaborate with the Coens). Plus, along with Leigh’s acting, Paul Newman gives a fantastic performance. But what really stands out is the Coens’ writing. Their dialog is fast-paced, poignant and funny – basically perfect for the film. The combination of all its attributes sum up to one of the top movies of the 90s; check out the (dated) trailer.

The Hudsucker Proxy [DVD]

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Lovely Bones (2009) – Review

The Lovely Bones is an amazing and terrible film. First the good news: the film features good performances from Rachel Weisz, Susan Saradon and Rose McIver, great performances from Saoirse Ronan (who is one of the best young actors) and Stanley Tucci. Their performances carry the film and engage the audience and are among the best of the year. Director Peter Jackson is able to shoot a number of scenes that work well. Maybe the best of the film happen back to back – the scene in which Ray asks Susie out in front of her locker, followed by the scene in which she is lured into the death trap in the corn field by Mr. Harvey. The scene in which Lindsey finds the evidence linking Mr. Harvey to the death of Susie in his house is also well done. These moments in the film are thrilling, or heartfelt, or whichever emotion Jackson wants the viewer to feel. The scene in the underground trap between Susie and Mr. Harvey will find the audience squirming in their seats do to the overwhelming feeling of uneasiness at what is about to happen, while the locker scene will have a smile on their faces – this is the work of a fine director, being able to dictate emotion. Jackson along with D.P. Andrew Lesnie create some beautiful, stimulating and wondrous photography in the “beyond” sequences. These sequences represent Jackson attempting to do something quite hard – tell a narrative and dictate emotion purely through images, which is immediately undermined by a completely unnecessary and infuriating voiceover by Susie spelling out what the images are already saying. The score by Brian Eno does work well to create the mood of the story Jackson wanted to tell. The bad news: as just mentioned, the V.O. narration is terrible, not in its execution by the actor, but in it inclusion in the film (one can only speculate if it was added by the studio or if Jackson really did not see that it completely corrodes his narrative structure). The narrative itself is not fully fleshed out in parts making the film seem to have an out of whack timeline, pointless subplots and overall weak editing and writing (leaving one to suspect again whether the film was badly hampered by studio interference, based solely on the fine work Jackson normally does).  The narrative of the film is disjointed and the interaction between the beyond and the real world conflict, not working together, even hurting each other. The film feels like is would work better as either an abstract piece shown primarily through Susie’s perspective from the beyond told through her journey – the images and the symbolism left to tell the story (or at least their interpretation  by the audience), and the film does try to do that, but it does not work well in its current state as it is cut against the scenes back on the plain of the living, or as a straightforward drama, character piece about the family dealing with her death and finally discovering the fiendish Mr. Harvey, with some interaction with Susie (like the flickering candle), but no beyond shots. The combination of the two (as it is now) has one destroying the other. The audience is trapped either trying to committee to Susie’s journey embarking and basking in the beauty and surreal nature of the beyond or frantically trying to connect with the characters, story and drama back in the Salmon house. Mark Wahlberg is not very good in the film, whether it is his poor acting or his performance destroyed by the structure is up for debate.  It is really just too bad, because there is so much potential for a terrific film, but all that is there is The Lovely Bones, a disordered mess. 6/10

Dollhouse: Season 2, Episode 12 – The Hollow Men (2010) – Review

The Hollow Men is an action-packed engaging episode, but not without a minor issue. The episode succeeds due to fine performances by the cast across the board. The episode features many personality changes throughout and the cast handles it well (Amy Acker plays a man for example). The main issue however is not so much with the episode itself rather with the end. The story jumps ten years in the future to catch up with Epitaph One, which is necessary as there is only one episode left and the narrative of Epitaph One needs to be resolved. But it does not feel like the story is finished in 2010 (as the future takes place in 2020), which is a function of both the show just running out of time and it needing to finish not being renewed. Epitaph Two: Return will hopefully be a great ending to a strong season, but there seems to be a lot of story left to tell (one can only hope it is a double episode, but I doubt it). Back to The Hollow Men, the episode had a few intense scenes making the viewer uneasy, yet fully committed to the events unfolding (some likely watching through their hands). The episode felt a bit like a season finale with the last shot being a cliffhanger for the next season (again seemingly burdening Epitaph Two: Return with too much story to tell). The Big Bad is dealt with (well played by Harry Lennix) in the episode, freeing up the last episode to go any direction. The motivation of the Big Bad was that of a mad scientist – Echo entered into the Dollhouse only to build up genetic antidote to the mind wiping process, something the Big Bad knew would happen all along. As if, once the technology was invented, even in its infancy, the Big Bad knew the future, knew that such an antidote would be necessary. And being a mad scientist, it makes sense that the Big Bad would form emotional (if not veiled) connections to those around him. He is nuts, but still craves connection.  It also works well in the narrative as it makes the Big Bad creepier and unstable. The ending of the episode (not including the epilogue) is quite good (the role reversal is perfectly executed). The Hollow Men is exciting, features great performances and character moments and continues the excitement for the season finale. 9/10
Dollhouse will air its last episode on Friday January 29th on Fox, and can also be watched on Amazon.com

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Gary Oldman – Movies Spotlight – January 2010

January’s Movies Spotlight is on Gary Oldman, who appears in the new Hughes Bros.’ post-apocalyptic action film The Book of Eli. Oldman much like another British performer, Peter Sellers, is a character actor able to play any role, and is no doubt one of the best, but he is best known for playing memorable villains.

Early Career:

Oldman began his career in the theatre, winning a number of awards. His film break came as Sid Vicious in Alex Cox’s Sid and Nancy. Oldman’s incredible talent for completely immersing himself into his character won him rave reviews and earned him a role in Stephen Frears’ Prick Up Your Ears, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead and State of Grace. These roles greatly increased his profile and paved the way for his career in Hollywood. Oldman decided to move to LA fulltime and make a career as a film actor.

Hollywood Breakthrough:

JFK was Oldman’s first major Hollywood film and highlighted the beginning of his rise to fame in the 1990s. Oldman took on the difficult role of Lee Harvey Oswald. As his role in Oliver Stone’s film was his most momentous, in terms of its mainstream exposure, he was able to land the lead role in Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula, which was a global success and the highest grossing of all films based on Bram Stoker’s novel. Oldman was awarded best male performance for his role by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films in 1992. He also took another leading role in Immortal Beloved as Ludwig van Beethoven, and while the film itself is mediocre, Oldman is mesmerizing in his commitment. On a more personal note for Oldman, he was able to use his success to make his own personal project – writing, directing and producing Nil by Mouth, which won him a BAFTA award for best screenplay and British film in 1998. In 2001, Oldman made a hilarious cameo on Friends (The One with Monica and Chandler’s Wedding, Parts 1 & 2) for which he was nominated for an Emmy (he only agreed to be in the series after Matt LeBlanc convinced him, who he met on Lost in Space, at least something good came form that project).

Classic Villains:

With two major Hollywood successes under his belt, Oldman was able to parlay his niche as a villain into many noteworthy villainous roles. In the Quentin Tarantino scripted True Romance, Oldman plays a murderous white Rasta drug dealer (“He must have thought it was white boy day. It ain’t white boy day, is it?). While his role is not very large in terms of screen time, it is a highlight of the film (which seems to be the case with many of his roles). He next shows up and Stansfield, a psychotic corrupt New York city cop in Luc Besson’s Leon (in America it is known as The Professional). Again, Oldman is not the star, nor does he have lots of screen time, but he certainly steals the show. With The Fifth Element, Oldman again takes on the role of the villain in a Luc Besson film. This time he plays Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg, a half human, seemingly half mechanical captain of industry, so committed to power that he is polluted by evil and works as an agent of the big bad. Oldman’s character is completely over the top, and yet still thoroughly believable and organic; it is quite a feat. And yes, Oldman again steals the picture. Next, Oldman, as a Russian patriot hijacker, battles Harrison Ford in Air Force One. Despite the cheesiness of the film, his commitment to his character, to the realism and motivations, is astonishing. Finally, to being the 2000s, Oldman makes his last two appearances as “classic” villains (at least hopefully until his role in The Book of Eli), first as Shelly Runyon the major opposition to Joan Allen becoming the first female Vice President in The Contender. As usual, and there are many fine performances in the film, Oldman soars above the rest and is brilliant. He also appeared in 2001’s Hannibal (not a very good film) and made his character so loathsome and vile that Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter almost seems like a good guy in their interaction.  Oldman was in talks to voice General Grievous is Star Wars: Episode III –Revenge of the Sith. However, he pulled out of the project out of respect for the Screen Actors Guild (the film being made outside the guild).

A Hero is Born:

The acting chameleon that Oldman is, he switched sides, so to speak, accepting good guy roles in the Harry Potter franchise as Sirius Black and the new Batman franchise as James Gordon. Oldman was such a presence on set during the filming of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban that Daniel Radcliffe took him on as a friend and mentor. In these two series Oldman showed that he was capable of playing any role hero or villain.

Voice Acting:

In recent years, Oldman has taken on more and more voice acting roles in films and video games, most notably Ignitus in The Legend of Spyro series and as Sgt. Reznov in Call of Duty: World at War. Film wise, he has lent his voice to the animated films Planet 51 and Robert Zemeckis’ A Christmas Carol, in which he voiced three roles.

Future Projects:

Oldman has two slated project upcoming and two in development. First, he can be seen in this month’s The Book of Eli playing opposite Denzel Washington and Mila Kunis as the big bad trying to get his hands on the sacred book. Their has been a lot of hype over his role in the film – hopefully it will be warranted, as it has been almost a decade since he last gave the film world a great memorable villain. Next up, he returns to the hero side of things in Easter Sixteen, in 2011, about the Easter Rising Irish revolution of 1916 staring along with Guy Pierce. In development Oldman has the follow up to The Dark Knight (assuming Christopher Nolan and/or Warner Bros. does make a third film, and I really hope that Nolan does) and Ness (a film that I know nothing about and can only speculate is about the Loch Ness Monster, all I do know is it is scheduled for 2012).

Gary Oldman Box Set (Selected Filmography/Career Highlights)

1.)                Sid and Nancy (1986) [DVD] – Lead
2.)                JFK (1991) [Blu-ray/DVD] – Supporting*
3.)                Dracula (1992) [Blu-ray/DVD] – Lead
4.)                True Romance (1993) [Blu-ray/DVD] – Supporting
5.)                Leon (1994) [Blu-ray/DVD] – Supporting
6.)                The Fifth Element (1997) [Blu-ray/DVD] – Supporting*
7.)                Nil by Mouth (1997) [DVD] – Writer/Director
8.)                The Contender (2000) [DVD] – Supporting
9.)                Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) [Blu-ray/DVD] – Supporting*
10.)            Batman Begins (2005) [Blu-ray/DVD] – Supporting*
11.)            Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007) [Blu-ray/DVD] – Supporting*
12.)            The Dark Knight (2008) [Blu-ray/DVD] – Supporting*

*Editor’s Picks