Darkest Hour ★½

Here is the thing: you cannot say "we are making a Churchill biopic that gets to the heart of the real Churchill" and then just do a bog-standard Churchill biopic that is like every other fucking Churchill biopic. If you want to do a Churchill biopic that is actually daring, do one that reminds us that he was a callous racist asshole who was viciously mean to literally everybody he perceived as having less power than him if he wasn't having a periodic attack of noblesse oblige, and that he had the heart of a brutal tyrant and acted that way far more often than most Churchill films are willing to even contemplate, and that the reason he correctly understood that Hitler couldn't be negotiated with when Chamberlain and so much of the rest of Britain could not was because he recognized Hitler as a mirror image of himself and said to himself "what would I do if I were Hitler" and he was completely right about that. If you're not making a movie about that Churchill, what's even the point? There are plenty of Churchill hagiographies out there already.

Gary Oldman is probably going to win his Oscar for this at long last, and he deserved to win in 2012 for TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY (Jean Dujardin in THE ARTIST, blugh) so it's the make-good Oscar that about half of all acting Oscars are, but god, it's only marginally better than most film Churchills; spending an hour with Kindly Old Winston Who Is Sometimes A Bit Grumpy is too much, and this one goes over two. It doesn't help that the film is mostly thuddingly boring to boot, and making a movie about English politics leading up to the Dunkirk miracle boring should be something that makes you not allowed to make movies any more. The scene where Winston Man Of The People Churchill rides the tube and Real Plucky Brits tell him they're willing to fight nasty ol' Hitler to the bitter end is one of the more vomitworthy movie scenes of the past year, and I saw MAYHEM and Steven Yeun, like, staples a guy in the eye in that one.

Gave it an extra half star for decent performances from Kristen Scott Thomas, Stephen Dillane and Ben Mendelsohn, but do yourself a favour and understand that none of them justify spending money on this retrograde piece of awards bait.