10. Carnegie, The Book of Eli
9. Zorg, The Fifth Element
Zorg is an eccentric and wealthy industrialist in League with the Forces of Evil to track down the mysterious "fifth element" the universe's only defense against extinction. Zorg sees only profit in the widescale destruction that evil will ensure. The fifth element turns out to be Leeloo (Milla Jovovitch) a strange woman who appears out of nowhere. She's assisted by cab driver Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis.) in finding the pieces needed to mount their defense. Zorg has agents everywhere and a long enough reach to search across the universe. He delights in betraying associates, most notably the Mangalores, an alien race of shapeshifters who vow revenge.
8. Ivan Korshunov, Air Force One
Ivan Korshunov is a villian straight out of the Die Hard playbook. He's a terrorist who takes control of Air Force One, which has the president of the USA, James Marshall, (Harrison Ford) and his family aboard, in order to secure the release of a prisoner, General Alexander Radek. Korshunov threatens to kill a prisoner every half hour until the General is released. He doesn't however count on a president who will fake an escape in order to stay onboard and pick off terrorists one by one. Korshunov is a bit limited by Marshall's impossible competence and goodness, but it's a treat to see Oldman in the textbook terrorist role and he's a perfect contrast to Ford's too good to be true superhero president. He reminds us, "You who murdered a hundred thousand Iraqis to save a nickel on a gallon of gas are going to lecture me on the rules of war? Well DON'T"
7. Lee Harvey Oswald, JFK
Oldman is tremendous in what I would think is a part not too many people could play or would want to, Lee Harvey Oswald, one of the most reviled men in American history. Oldman's uncanny physical resemblance has a remarkable effect. His Oswald is troubled and full of contradictions, making him an easy tool to be used by others. The performance is amazingly humanizing, especially for a figure who we've seen in the same clips so many times. While it doesn't provide much in the way of answers, it does raise a few questions.
6. Drexl Spivey, True Romance
Although Drexl has very little screen time in True Romance, the time he has sticks with you. Drexl is a low level drug dealer, who somehow came to believe himself a black man. Add Drexl's own brand of homespun psychology and you get a frighteningly bizarre figure. Drexl is also a pimp to Alabama (Patricia Arquette) a fact which her new husband, Clarence Worley (Christian Slater) can't tolerate. Drexl doesn't give away Alabama's freedom easily, ridiculing Clarence and remarking "He thinks it's white boy day." Drexl very nearly ends Clarence's quest, but ends up underestimating him. Off beat even for Gary Oldman, Drexl is truly one of a kind.
5. Jackie Flannery, State of Grace
Jackie has spent his life working as a hot headed thug for his brother, Frankie (Ed Harris) in the Irish mafia. He's ecstatic to welcome back his best friend Terry (Sean Penn) into the fold after a ten year absence, not knowing he's now an undercover cop. Jackie however has his own sense of right and wrong, and doesn't hesitate to kill three high level mobsters who show up on his gang's turf. His unrestrained behavior leads to consequences from his cold blooded older brother, who is ordered to kill Jackie because he scares everybody. Jackie is insane, lethal, and funny at the same time, and always riveting to watch.
While most don't think of Beethoven as an anti hero, he certainly is here. Full of secrets, obsession and complexity, Oldman's Beethoven is a tortured perfectionist. We're given given access to Beethoven via his associate, Schindler (Jeroen Krabbe) who questions the women in Beethoven's life after Beethoven dies, leaving a note and a secret will, "To my immortal beloved." The identity of the beloved is a mystery Schindler resolves to investigate. Through the investigation of those who knew him, we're given a picture of an extraordinarily passionate man, barely tethered to the real world, yet severely limited by his deafness. Beethoven will go to great lengths to control the destiny of his nephew, and thinks nothing of beating a female student who plays without passion. Cruel and abusive, but brilliant and driven. As Johanna, the recipient of his most extreme cruelty concludes, "I could not hate the man who could write such music."Ultimately, there is always his music, the most revealing means of finding the man behind it.
3. Dracula, Dracula
Dracula is one of the oldest antiheroes around. Here, Oldman's Dracula is a man so disturbed by the death of his beloved that he resolves not to die until she returns. This feat includes selling himself to Satan and becoming a vampire, which hardly seems an impediment except for in the long term giving him all sorts of fantastic powers. After centuries, Dracula sees Mina (Winona Ryder) who he is certain is his wife, returned. He resolves to get to her, although he must contend with her fiance, Johnathan Harker (Keanu Reeves) and vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing (Anthony Hopkins) Oldman gives a fantastic performance here, ranging from the birth of the vampire to centuries later with what he's dreamed about in his grasp.
2. Jack Grimaldi, Romeo is Bleeding
Jack Grimaldi is a crooked cop and a master of justifying his actions. He lives a kind of double life, keeping up with married suburban appearances while at the same time supporting a mistress and hiding money in "the hole" in his back yard, obtained by giving up the locations of witnesses to the mob. An assignment to guard assassin Mona DiMarkov (Lena Olin) sends his life in an unexpected direction. We watch as everything spirals out of control, narrated by Jack himself, long after the fact, in a new identity out in the middle of nowhere, telling the "story of an unlucky guy who fell in love with a hole in the ground; a ghost, haunting his own grave"
1. Stansfield, Leon: The Professional
In The Professional, Oldman's DEA agent Stansfield is the guy on the right side of the law. He manages to use his position however, to make as much illegal money as possible, getting his fingers into drug deals. Stansfield thinks nothing of murdering witnesses even when they're children. He's almost a force of nature, he can do anything he likes and no one can touch him. However, when he murders the family of young Mathilde (Natalie Portman) and the reclusive hitman Leon (Jean Reno) lets her in his apartment, thereby saving her life, Stansfield finally makes an enemy that can reach him. Leon is as efficient as Stansfield is untouchable, making the two very evenly matched, but if not for Mathilde, their paths would never have crossed. Stansfield is an amazing character, whose insanity is given strange depth by Oldman's performance. He is an emotionless monster who will destroy anything to get what he wants, yet has his own method to his operations, which includes discussing Beethoven with his soon to be victims and reminding a little girl planning to avenge her family that he wouldn't enjoy taking her life if she didn't want to live.