Under the Radar

Meet Gary Oldman

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Gary Oldman finally got his first Oscar nomination for playing George Smiley in the excellent new movie adaptation of John Le Carré's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, so now's a good time to revisit his breakthrough performance as Sex Pistols' bassist Sid Vicious in the 1986 movie Sid & Nancy, just released on a "Collector's Edition" Blu-ray by MGM.

First, the movie: you can't really make the argument that Sid & Nancy is the best rock biopic because it's a stretch to call Sid Vicious a musician. Sid couldn't play at all and the moment he replaced Glen Matlock in the Pistols is the moment they ended as a serious musical force. Director Alex Cox understood this and really made a movie about the junkie love affair between Sid and Nancy Spungen, an American girl so desperate to sleep with a rock start that she settled for the densest, least musical boy on the scene. Gary Oldman is magnificent and this is by far the best movie Alex Cox ever made.

The Blu-ray transfer looks great, even though there's nothing on the package about this release being a new remaster. The extras are recycled from a 2007 DVD edition and include two not-terrible VH1-style documentaries where a lot of folks not connected with the movie try to give some context for why both the Sex Pistols and the movie were important.

Unfortunately, there's a long out-of-print version of Sid & Nancy that has some of the best DVD extras ever, so these not-bad documentaries pale in comparison. Originally released on LaserDisc, the Criterion Collection version of the film feature extensive commentary from cast and crew, a great documentary about the film and actual footage of the famous British TV appearance that inspired one of Sid & Nancy's centerpiece moments. Much like the hard-to-find Criterion version of This is Spinal Tap, the extras give amazing context to a great document of 80s filmmaking.

That said, this new Blu-ray looks better than the Criterion DVD and fans of Oldman's performances in the Harry Potter and Batman movies should definitely check this out.

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