The actor, who had been considered the strong favourite in the category, overcame competition from fellow British nominees Daniel Kaluuya and the soon-to-retire Daniel Day-Lewis to take home the prize.
In his acceptance speech, Oldman appeared near to tears: he thanked America, saying he was “deeply grateful to her”, and recalled that “the movies, such is their power, captivated a young man from south London, and gave him a dream”. He finished up by thanking his mother, saying: “Put the kettle on, I’m bringing Oscar home.”
The victory follows similar prizes for Oldman at this year’s Golden Globes and Baftas, and marks a first Academy award in a cinematic career that has spanned more than three decades. The actor had been nominated in the same category in 2012 for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy but lost to The Artist’s Jean Dujardin.
Oldman’s victory comes despite the re-emergence in recent weeks of allegations of domestic abuse against his now ex-wife, along with controversial quotes from a 2014 Playboy interview, in which he used racist and sexist language while defending antisemitic comments made by Mel Gibson. Oldman, who has denied the abuse allegations, apologised for the “insensitive” nature of his Playboy comments.
The actor has been widely praised for his latex-enhanced performance as Churchill, a transformation that required five hours in makeup per day. “People would stare at me because the makeup was so good you could stand an inch from me and you couldn’t tell I was wearing any, the actor told Deadline. “It was fascinating to people. It was really like being the prime minister for a few months.”
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