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The Oscar nominations featured surprises that both enraged and excited film lovers around the world, but one nod that had Hollywood and moviegoers jumping for joy was the inclusion of Gary Oldman amongst the best actor field. It's the first Academy Award nomination for an actor who should have found himself invited to the Kodak Theater long ago after stellar performances in films such as "The Contender," "JFK," "The Professional" and "Prick Up Your Ears." I've been a fan of "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" since screening it in September and if the film couldn't crack the best picture field Oldman's recognition was the next best thing.
Many might have felt the nomination was the "win" for the iconic actor, especially after a long awards season campaign, but that's slowly turning out not to be the case. George Clooney's upset by "The Artist's" Jean Dujardin at the SAG Awards signaled that the best actor Oscar was up for grabs (and boy does the industry love "The Artist" like that boy loves his horse in "War Horse"). Now, Clooney, Dujardin, Pitt and Oldman are the duplicate contenders for the BAFTA best actor award being handed out on Sunday. They are joined by "Shame's" Michael Fassbender who should have made the Oscar field as well, but I digress… Because "Tinker Tailor" leads the BAFTA's with 11 nominations and Oldman's performance was a critic's favorite in the UK he's seen as a major contender to win on Sunday. However, if Dujardin wins it means he's basically a lock to win the big prize later this month. But, if Oldman wins? Former frontrunner Clooney could take a back seat to a race between the upstart Frenchman and the legendary Brit. There is a significant overlap between BAFTA and Academy members and every Oscar consultant this side of the pond knows it.
I've had the pleasure of speaking to Oldman a few times during the promotional campaign for "Tinker Tailor" and while he would never say it outright it was clear finally landing a nomination meant something to him. So, sitting down to chat on camera to discuss his post-nomination thoughts he immediately seemed relaxed and at ease that the battle was (mostly) over. In fact, he admits he thought someone else would make the cut this year. He was giving his last interview for "Tinker" when he found out he'd been nominated and he says he was "shocked."
Oldman notes, "It's never happened before. I wasn't expecting it. If you were to take the temperature with the Golden Globes and SAG I wasn't banking on it."
Our conversation, which you can enjoy embedded at the top of this post, also covers "Tinker's" reception in the states, whether he pays attention to box office (it's hard to ignore when you're in films like "The Dark Knight") and the hope by many for another George Smiley film. John le Carre wrote two other books with Smiley as a main character,"The Honourable Schoolboy" and "Smiley's People," and I was curious if there was a magic number at the global box office to justify a sequel. (at the moment "Tinker Tailor" has grossed $61 million worldwide).
"I think they are planning one," Oldman insists. "I think it's garnered enough attention and made enough money for it to be worthwhile to make another It would stand on its own thing. It's not a sequel as such. We've set the world up. The kitchen is there. You just have to cook up a new dish. I think it would all rely on the same creative team coming back together."
Having lived in the United States and been part of the Hollywood community for some time, I also asked Oldman if there were any congratulations he received that surprised him.
"Well I got flowers from Tom Cruise. From Tom and Katie which I thought was very sweet," Oldman says with a smile. "Obviously, the BAFTA is exciting and the British Academy Award and we have 11 nominations and there are more people who are involved in the movie getting the nod at least a piece of the pie."
The interview ended with Oldman's opinion on Pitt's fanciful suggestion (made on the Daily Show) that all the nominees have a contest to see who can hold onto the statue the most. Whoever holds on the longest wins. Oldman says he doesn't think he'd last long personally, but for the rest of his thoughts? Well, you'll have to enjoy the interview embedded at the top of this post.
"Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" is still playing in theaters across the country. Don't miss it on the big screen.
For year round entertainment commentary and awards season news follow @HitFixGregory on Twitter.