Focus and Working Title dropped the first trailer for Darkest Hour, the second Winston Churchill biopic released this year, and they’re praying that, unlike the Brian Cox-starring Churchill –which flopped miserably at the box office last month — you’ll actually go and see this one.
For starters, it features Gary Oldman under a ton of prosthetics giving what looks to be a pretty solid performance, and it has Kristin Scott Thomas in it, so it can’t be all bad. Peep it:
Darkest Hour is directed by hit-or-miss maestro Joe Wright, who has at least one solid masterpiece (the 2011 fairy-tale thriller Hanna) and several very good films under his belt, though his record is blighted by a series of totally frustrating misfires (The Soloist and, hoo boy, Pan).
If you look to the margins in this trailer, you can see some Wright-isms pop up — the children in Hitler masks playing in the street for one — and that’s leading us to believe there might be a more interesting movie buried under all the boring Oscar bait. It’s hard to tell if Oldman’s performance will be any good from this, though he comes as close as he can to nailing the particularities of Churchill’s speech, but we’re hopeful that this is just a poorly-edited trailer and not an indication of things to come.
Ben Mendelsohn, though! As George VI! That casting is something we never knew we wanted until we watched the preview, and it’s fair to say that he looks a ton more like the Monarch than Colin Firth ever did. That’s our big take-away from all of this: Wright knows how to cast with the best of ‘em, y’all.
Darkest Hour hits American cinemas on November 22, but the Brits have to wait until January to see it. How on Earth is that fair? And don’t tell us Boxing Day, you geeks. They could have at least put it out on Christmas there and given it to us in January.