Oppenheimer sweeps the Academy Awards with major Oscars


Emma Stone has won the best actress Oscar for Poor Things.
Emma Stone has won the best actress Oscar for Poor Things.

Oppenheimer, a solemn three-hour biopic that became an unlikely billion-dollar box-office sensation, has swept the major Oscars at the 96th Academy Awards in Los Angeles.

After passing over arguably Hollywood’s foremost big-screen auteur for years, the Oscars made up for lost time by heaping seven awards on Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster biopic, including best actor for Cillian Murphy, best supporting actor for Robert Downey Jr and best director for Nolan.

In anointing Oppenheimer, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences did something it hasn’t done for more than a decade: hand its top prize to a widely seen, big-budget studio film.

Oppenheimer brought droves of moviegoers to cinemas with a complex, fission-filled drama about J. Robert Oppenheimer and the creation of the atomic bomb.

“For better or worse, we’re all living in Robert Oppenheimer’s world,” said Murphy in his acceptance speech. “I’d like to dedicate this to the peacemakers.”

As a film heavy with unease for human capacity for mass destruction, Oppenheimer also emerged – even over its partner in cultural phenomenon, Barbie – as a fittingly foreboding film for times rife with cataclysm, man-made or not.

The most closely watched contest of the Academy Awards went to Emma Stone, who won best best actress for her performance as Bella Baxter in Poor Things. In what was seen as the night’s most nail-biting category, Stone won over Lily Gladstone of Killers of the Flower Moon.

Emma Stone
Emma Stone poses with the award for best performance by an actress in a leading role. (AP PHOTO)

Oscar voters couldn’t resist the full-bodied extremes of Stone’s Poor Things performance. The win for Stone, her second best actress Oscar following her 2017 win for La La Land, confirmed the 35-year-old as arguably the pre-eminent big-screen actress of her generation. The list of women to win best actress two or more times is illustrious, including Katharine Hepburn, Frances McDormand, Ingrid Bergman and Bette Davis.

“Oh, boy, this is really overwhelming,” said Stone, who fought back tears and a broken dress during her speech.

Earlier Downey Jr and The Holdovers star Da’Vine Joy Randolph claimed their first Oscars.

Downey, who was nominated for an Oscar in 1993 before his career was derailed by drug use, was named best supporting actor for his role as the professional nemesis of J. Robert Oppenheimer.

Robert Downey Jr
Robert Downey Jr won the Academy Award for best supporting actor. (AP PHOTO)

“I’d like to thank my terrible childhood and the Academy, in that order,” Downey joked before he saluted his wife Susan, who he said found him as a “snarly rescue pet” and “loved him back to life.”

Randolph won the best supporting actress trophy for playing a grieving mother and cafeteria worker in the comedy set in a New England boarding school. She shed tears as she accepted her award.

“For so long, I always wanted to be different, and now I realise I just need to be myself,” she said. “I thank you for seeing me.”

Da'Vine Joy Randolph
Da’Vine Joy Randolph won the best supporting actress Oscar for The Holdovers. (AP PHOTO)

Jimmy Kimmel, hosting the show for the fourth time, opened the ceremony by complimenting, and taking jabs at, many of the nominees and their films.

The comedian praised Barbie, the pink-drenched doll adventure, for remaking a “plastic doll nobody even liked anymore” into a feminist icon.

Before the film, there was “a better chance of getting my wife to buy our daughter a pack of Marlboro Reds” than a Barbie, Kimmel said.

Kimmel said many of this year’s movies were too long, particularly Martin Scorsese’s three-and-a-half hour epic Killer of the Flower Moon about the murders of members of the Osage Nation in 1920s Oklahoma.

“In the time it takes you to watch it, you could drive to Oklahoma and solve the murders,” he joked.

Britain’s The Zone of Interest, about a German officer’s family living next door to the Auschwitz extermination camp during World War II, collected the Oscar for best international feature film.

Oscars protest
Protesters hold letters and symbols reading “Eyes on Rafah,” during a demonstration in Los Angeles. (AP PHOTO)

The war in Gaza was on the minds of many attendees, as was the war in Ukraine. A year after Navalny won the same award, Mstyslav Chernov’s 20 Days in Mariupol, a harrowing chronicle of the early days of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, won best documentary.

Prior to the awards, hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters angered by the Israel-Gaza conflict shouted and slowed traffic in the blocks surrounding the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. “While you’re watching, bombs are dropping,” one sign read.

“The Oscars are happening down the road while people are being murdered, killed, bombed,” said 38-year-old business owner Zinab Nassrou.

with Reuters