‘Oppenheimer’ caps a big night with Best Picture Oscar

“Oppenheimer” overwhelmed the competition at the 96th Academy Awards on Sunday, winning seven Oscars, including the one for best picture, and at long last cementing Christopher Nolan’s status as the foremost filmmaker of his generation.

Nolan, 53, a previous five-time nominee for directing or writing but never a winner, was named best director. “Oppenheimer” also won Oscars for actor (Cillian Murphy), supporting actor (Robert Downey Jr.), film editing (Jennifer Lame), cinematography (Hoyte van Hoytema) and score (Ludwig Göransson).

Steven Spielberg presents the award for best director to Christopher Nolan for ÒOppenheimer,Ó during the 96th Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, March 10, 2024. (Amir Hamja/The New York Times)

“Movies are just a little bit over 100 years old,” Nolan said in accepting the statuette for directing. “Imagine being there 100 years into painting or theater. We don’t know where this incredible journey is going from here. But to know that you think that I’m a meaningful part of it means the world to me.”

By showering “Oppenheimer” with honors, Hollywood was awarding the film as much for its artistry as for its against-all-odds performance in theaters. In an era when superheroes, paint-by-numbers franchise sequels and movies based on toys have blotted out traditional filmmaking at the box office, “Oppenheimer,” a drama with nearly $1 billion in ticket sales, gave the film elite hope that traditional cinema has not been entirely lost.

“Oppenheimer” marked a shift for the Academy Awards. Call it the revenge of the studio movie. In recent years, Hollywood’s top prize has gone almost exclusively to independent movies like “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” “CODA,” “Parasite” and “Moonlight.” “Oppenheimer,” made by Universal Pictures, is something of a throwback — an expensive film from an old-line studio.

Robert Downey Jr., winner of the award for best performance by an actor in a supporting role for “Oppenheimer,” from left, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, winner of the award for best performance by an actress in a supporting role for “The Holdovers,” Emma Stone, winner of the award for best performance by an actress in a leading role for “Poor Things,” and Cillian Murphy, winner of the award for best performance by an actor in a leading role for “Oppenheimer,” pose in the press room at the Oscars on Sunday, March 10, 2024, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Other highlights included:

— Emma Stone won the Oscar for best actress for “Poor Things,” a twist on the Frankenstein story from Searchlight Pictures. “Lily, I share this with you,” Stone said from the stage, gesturing toward Lily Gladstone, the “Killers of the Flower Moon” actress who had been considered a strong contender to win the prize going into the ceremony. Gladstone was the first Native American acting nominee. Stone previously won in the category for “La La Land” in 2017.

— “Poor Things” collected a quartet of Oscars overall, also winning for costumes, production design and makeup and hairstyling.

— “Barbie” melted as an Oscar contender, converting only one of its eight nominations to a win: Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell collected the trophy for best song for their “What Was I Made For?” (At 22, Eilish is now the youngest person ever to have won two Oscars, having cruised to a best song victory in 2022 for “No Time to Die.”) But “Barbie” did provide one of the telecast’s most rousing live moments, when Ryan Gosling, who played Ken, performed one of the movie’s other nominated songs (“I’m Just Ken”) as an elaborate song-and-dance number replete with three dozen backup Kens, fireworks and a surprise appearance by Slash, the Guns N’ Roses guitarist.

— Downey accepted the Oscar for best supporting actor, completing a remarkable career arc — from scene-stealing young actor in the 1980s, to out-of-work drug addict in the 1990s, to a superhero comeback in the 2000s and 2010s, to Academy Award glory for his performance in “Oppenheimer.” “I’d like to thank my terrible childhood and the academy, in that order,” Downey joked in a short acceptance speech that also touched on his stylist.

— Da’Vine Joy Randolph was named best supporting actress for playing a grieving mother and boarding school cook in “The Holdovers.” “For so long, I’ve always wanted to be different, and now I realize I only need to be myself,” Randolph said.

— The Oscars for best sound and best international film went to “The Zone of Interest,” in which a well-off Nazi couple exult in their good fortune while living next door to the Auschwitz concentration camp. In his speech, Jonathan Glazer, the film’s director, decried “the victims of dehumanization,” both in Israel and the Gaza Strip. “We stand here as men who refute their Jewishness and the Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation which has led to conflict for so many innocent people,” he said.

— “20 Days in Mariupol,” Mstyslav Chernov’s account of the atrocities committed during the early days of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, won the Oscar for best documentary feature. “I wish I’d never made this film,” he said in his speech. “I wish I’d been able to exchange this for Russia never attacking Ukraine.”

— Justine Triet and Arthur Harari accepted the original screenplay Oscar for “Anatomy of a Fall,” a courtroom thriller about a woman accused of murder. Voters honored Cord Jefferson with the adapted screenplay Oscar for “American Fiction,” a satire about a writer who puts together a novel that turns on racial stereotypes.

— Jimmy Kimmel, hosting the ceremony for the second year in a row, avoided politics in his monologue, opting instead to poke fun (gently) at nominated films. The closest he came to controversy was a crack about the omission of Greta Gerwig, the “Barbie” filmmaker, as a directing nominee. “I know you’re clapping, but you’re the ones who didn’t vote for her,” Kimmel said, as the camera cut to a smiling Gerwig. Toward the end of the show, he did joke about a social media post from former President Donald Trump, who criticized the job Kimmel was doing as a host.

“Isn’t it past your jail time?” Kimmel said.

Ryan Gosling performs “I’m Just Ken” from ÒBarbie,Ó during the 96th Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, March 10, 2024. (Amir Hamja/The New York Times)


Best Picture


Best Director

Christopher Nolan, “Oppenheimer”

Best Actor

Cillian Murphy, “Oppenheimer”

Best Actress

Emma Stone, “Poor Things”

Best Supporting Actor

Robert Downey Jr., “Oppenheimer”

Best Supporting Actress

Da’Vine Joy Randolph, “The Holdovers”

Original Screenplay

“Anatomy of a Fall”

Adapted Screenplay

“American Fiction”

Animated Feature

“The Boy and the Heron”

Production Design

“Poor Things”

Costume Design

“Poor Things”





Makeup and Hairstyling

“Poor Things”


“The Zone of Interest”

Visual Effects

“Godzilla Minus One”

Original Score


Original Song

“What Was I Made For?” (“Barbie”)

Documentary Feature

“20 Days in Mariupol”

International Feature

“The Zone of Interest,” United Kingdom

Animated Short

“War Is Over! Inspired by the Music of John & Yoko”

Documentary Short

“The Last Repair Shop”

Live Action Short Film

“The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar”

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