villainy, part 3: making the case for Gary Oldman
You've all made some very fine suggestions for the best villain ever.
However, I was going by my definition of villain, to wit:
My perfect villain is quiet. Mysterious. He has to be dastardly and underhanded, yet with a certain charm and sexiness about him that makes you want to take him home and ride him until morning (this does work for female villains as well). He should be sinister, but always with a method to his madness. None of this running around town hacking up hookers because he has a small penis. No, my villain fights for guts and glory. He doesn't want to conquer the world, he is much happier bringing the head of his boss's enemy back to him on a gilded stick, preferably on fire. His prize is usually money, but for him, every win against an enemy is a personal victory. He does not need scantily clad girls sent to him by his boss, because victory and the death of his opponent is enough for him. He is driven by demons of his past, several broken hearts and the memory of his beloved dog who was killed by his neighbor when he was young. And speaking of driving, his vehicle of choice is just as sleek, sexy and powerful as he is.
While Michael Meyers is indeed a great villain, I certainly do not want to ride him until morning.
I have written here many times that Gary Oldman is my favorite actor in the history of film. I've had debates over which role of his is the best. Even his small parts, like that in True Romance, resonate with any villain-loving film fan.
So, obviously, my new choice for best villain of old time is:
True, Gary is a person, not a character. But if you were to combine all of the parts he's every played you would come up with the exact thing I was looking for in the above description. Let's take a little stroll the world of villains as seen through the career of Gary Oldman.
[all pop-up images below are courtesy of the fabulous website The Dark Side of Gary Oldman]
Let's start with Lost in Space because it is clearly the worst of all movies he made. Look at that face. Look at the eyes.
Next, we have Air Force One. Another semi-ok movie, but here, Oldman threatens Harrison Ford as the president. A villain holding a gun to Harrison Ford's head and making him squirm like a baby totally turns me on.
In Fifth Element, Oldman as Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg played the over-the-top bad guy with panache. Look at my fingers: four stones, four crates. Zero stones? ZERO CRATES!
Oldman's best role and one of the best villains ever created was as Agent Norman Stansfield in Léon aka The Professional. I fell in love with this character despite his obvious faults. I like these calm little moments before the storm. It reminds me of Beethoven. Can you hear it? It's like when you put your head to the grass and you can hear the growin' and you can hear the insects. Do you like Beethoven? That's not even the best part. I get shivers down my spine every time I hear him say Death is....whimsical today.
Ahh, True Romance. This movie, which stands well enough on its own even without Oldman (it's in my list of top ten favorite movies of all time, and one of those I can pretty much recite), Oldman's bit part as Drexl Spivey ranks among the greatest pieces of cinema ever. If you've seen the movie, you know his now famous line: He must have thought it was white boy day. It ain't white boy day, is it?
Ok, you get the picture now. Gary Oldman's film career defines villainy. So, rather than pick and choose from Spivey or Stansfield or even his role as the ultimate backstabber, Pontius Pilate, I'll just go ahead and call Gary Oldman the greatest villain ever.