Friday, February 10, 2012

The Contender

The Contender
seen @ Sunshine Cinema, New York NY

So Gary Oldman finally got that Best Actor Oscar nomination after all. How about that? Even though he's not likely to win in a field with heavyweights George Clooney and Brad Pitt, plus the star of the likely Best Picture winner, a lot of people are still rooting for him, and not without reason. Though I personally wasn't that crazy about Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, he was certainly very good in it, and he's taken advantage of all the goodwill generated by his Oscar nomination by doing interviews and keeping himself visible. Here in New York, he recently made two appearances as part of retrospectives on his long career: one at the Walter Reade Theater and another at the Sunshine Cinema, where they not only had a Q-and-A with him, but played a bunch of his best films and gave away free tickets online. I couldn't make it to the Q-and-A, but I did go to one of the films the Sunshine screened, the political drama The Contender.

The film stars Joan Allen as a senator picked by the president to become his vice-president after the incumbent dies. Oldman plays the head of the committee holding hearings to determine her fitness to hold the office. When a scandalous secret from her past comes to light, Oldman really comes after her with both barrels, but she steadfastly refuses to publicly address the issue or even its veracity. Allen, like Oldman, has had a career of mostly supporting roles, and Contender, like Tinker for Oldman, was a rare opportunity for her to shine as the lead, and shine she does (though I don't like her as a blonde).

Oldman, with his scraggly, balding pate, looks a little like Paul Giamatti in this one, and with his flawless American accent, you'd never mistake him for the same guy who plays Tinker's George Smiley. As I've talked about before, though, his ability to disappear inside each role he plays is one of, if not his greatest, strengths. He probably won't win Best Actor, but it is nice to see him getting celebrated for his work.


  1. I'm with you Rich, I'm not enamored with Tinker Tailor as much as I had hoped but Oldman was amazing as Smiley.

    Anyway, he really should've been nominated for all kinds of awards for this role in the Contender. Like you said, his American accent is flawless without being over the top and he looked entirely different from everything I've seen him in previously. He is a true chameleon, the fact that he's never been nominated until now is beyond me!

  2. I'd say he had a shot if Clooney and Pitt somehow split the vote, but Jean Dujardin did win the SAG Award for Best Actor, so there's that.


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