From A.O. Scott’s 11.21 review of Joe Wright‘s Darkest Hour: “The challenges facing Winston Churchill are of lethal seriousness, but the key to his effectiveness is his capacity for pleasure. He enjoys the push and pull of politics, the intellectual labor of problem-solving and the daily adventure of being himself.
“In grasping that joy, Gary Oldman partakes of it and passes it along to the audience. He is having fun, playing the part in every sense. And his blustery, blubbery charm, backed as it is by a sly and acute intelligence, is hard to resist.”
From HE 9.2.17 review: “Churchill is winningly played by Gary Oldman in a colorful, right-down-the-middle, straight-over-the-plate performance. Will this flamboyantly twitchy turn result in a Best Actor nomination? You betcha, but honestly? Oldman has delivered in a classically actor-ish, heavily-made-up way that could have been performed 30 or 50 years ago. There will be no ignoring Oldman’s work here, but it’s not wedded to the present-day zeigeist. It’s a golden-oldie performance, but delivered fresh with plenty of zing.”
Scott: “Like The King’s Speech, Darkest Hour is a serviceable enough historical drama. But like Dunkirk, it falls back on an idealized notion of the English character that feels, in present circumstances, less nostalgic than downright reactionary.”
HE: “Darkest Hour is a stirringly square, well-handled audience movie…it feels familiar and well-trod (how could it not be given all the recent Churchill portrayals?) but rousingly straightforward.”