Gary Oldman is to receive this year’s Variety Award at the British Independent Film Awards on Dec. 10. The award recognizes a director, actor, writer or producer who has made a global impact and helped to focus the international spotlight on the U.K.
Previous recipients of the award include Benedict Cumberbatch, Jude Law, Kenneth Branagh, Keira Knightley, Liam Neeson, Paul Greengrass, Daniel Craig, Helen Mirren, Kate Winslet and Naomie Harris, who was last year’s honoree.
Steven Gaydos, Variety’s Vice President and Executive Editor, said: “In the 30 years since Gary Oldman galvanized global film audiences with his portrayal of punk rocker Sid Vicious in ‘Sid and Nancy,’ Oldman has blazed a path as one of international cinema’s most versatile and valued actors. From blockbusters to American indie classics and U.K. masterworks, Oldman has been a force of nature who’s brought life to a stunning variety of characters across all genres of film.”
BIFA said in a statement: “An acclaimed presence in motion pictures for 30 years, Oldman is regarded as one of the foremost actors of his generation.”
Oldman’s most recent role is that of Winston Churchill in Joe Wright’s “Darkest Hour.” The biopic charting Churchill’s appointment as prime minister during the early days of World War II premiered to critical acclaim at the Telluride and Toronto film festivals last month. Oldman’s portrayal of the British leader was praised by one critic as “one of the greatest performances of his career.”
The actor is known to millions around the world for his characterizations of Sirius Black (Harry Potter’s godfather), Commissioner Gordon (Batman’s crime-fighting colleague), Dracula, Beethoven, Pontius Pilate, Lee Harvey Oswald, Joe Orton, and Sid Vicious. His portrayal of George Smiley in Tomas Alfredson’s “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” brought him a BAFTA Award, British Independent Film Award, European Film Award, and Academy Award nominations for best actor.
In 2011, he was honored with the Empire Awards’ Icon Award for Achievement and with a Career Tribute at the Gotham Independent Film Awards. At the 2014 London Critics’ Circle Film Awards, he was given the Dilys Powell Award for Excellence in Film.
His acting career began in 1979, and for several years he worked exclusively on stage; from 1985 through 1989, he alternated film work with appearances at London’s Royal Court Theater. Among his early telefilms were Mike Leigh’s “Meantime” and the late Alan Clarke’s “The Firm.” Other film credits include Stephen Frears’ “Prick Up Your Ears,” “Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead,” Oliver Stone’s “JFK,” Luc Besson’s “Leon” and “The Fifth Element,” “Air Force One,” “Hannibal,” “The Book of Eli,” “Child 44,” and “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”
With Douglas Urbanski, Oldman produced the feature “Nil by Mouth.” The film marked his screenwriting and directing debut, and was selected to world premiere as the opening-night film of the 1997 Cannes Film Festival, at which the film’s leading lady, Kathy Burke, won the best actress award. “Nil by Mouth” also won BAFTA’s Alexander Korda Award for Outstanding British Film of the Year.
Oldman and Urbanski’s subsequent productions include “The Contender,” starring Joan Allen and Jeff Bridges. The film received two Academy Award, two Golden Globe Award and three Screen Actors Guild Award nominations, including one for Oldman as supporting actor.
BIFA’s 2017 nominations will be announced Nov. 1 by Maisie Williams and Hayley Squires. The winners will be unveiled at the Dec. 10 ceremony at Old Billingsgate, which will mark the 20th anniversary of the awards.