Tom Hardy calls him “his hero”, while the likes of Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling and Daniel Radcliffe have cited him as one of their favourite actors. Gary Oldman turns 58 today, and we believe that like fine wine, he just keeps getting better. To celebrate the iconic British actor’s birthday, we are rounding up some of his best movies to date. It was a tough call, and regrettably some stellar works had to be left out, but someone has to do it. In chronological order, here are 7 films that should be in your not-to-miss list:
Sid & Nancy (1986)
This was his breakthrough film in Hollywood, and Oldman’s compelling lead performance in the powerful biopic as Sid Vicious, the bass player of The Sex Pistols, was only a hint of what he would be capable of in years to come.
Prick Up Your Ears (1987)
Another (tragic) biopic, another gripping performance by Gary Oldman—his role as British playwright Joe Orton earned him his first BAFTA Best Actor nomination and the Actor of the Year award by the London Film Critics’ Circle.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
Oldman’s performance as Dracula arguably plays a major role in propelling the 1992 to its blockbuster status that year. That coupled with Francis Ford Coppola’s magic touch, makes the film one of the best adaptations of the novel to date.
Léon: The Professional (1994)
At this point, he is already well known for his versatile acting capabilities, particularly in playing antagonist roles. But his character in Léon, a corrupt and amoral Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent called Norman Stansfield, rightfully goes down in history as one of cinema’s greatest villains.
Nil by Mouth (1998)
While he did not star in this film, it was his first (and only, so far) shot at writing and directing. It depicted the story of a family surrounded by domestic violence, drugs and booze—a fine achievement by Oldman that swept up a number of notable awards along the way.
Immortal Beloved (2004)
Delving deep into the role of the character he plays (as always), Gary Oldman captured Beethoven as a brilliant yet erratic figure struggling with his deafness and other obsessive demons to vivid effect.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)
Adapted from the novel of the same name by John Le Carre, this Cold War espionage film featured a stellar line-up of actors, including Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hardy and John Hurt. It showcased another stellar performance by Oldman, one which finally earned him his first Oscar nomination.
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