'Oppenheimer' leads the way with 13 Oscar nominations

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'Oppenheimer' leads the way with 13 Oscar nominations
Cillian Murphy in London, May 13, 2023. The “Oppenheimer” star shares what his first Oscar nomination feels like and strange awards-season experiences (like being stuck in a line with Meryl Streep). (Robbie Lawrence/The New York Times)

by Brooks Barnes



NEW YORK, NY.- Oscar voters lined up behind a classic studio blockbuster Tuesday, giving 13 nominations to Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer,” the most of any movie, and setting up the long-awaited coronation of Nolan as Hollywood’s leading filmmaker. It was a shift from recent years, when the academy fixated on unconventional art films unseen by most Americans.

No film by Nolan has ever been named best picture and, despite five previous nominations, he has never personally won an Oscar. Nolan received his second nomination for directing Tuesday, the first coming in 2018 for his complex “Dunkirk.” He was also nominated for his “Oppenheimer” screenplay.

The recognition for “Oppenheimer” (Universal Pictures) had been expected. But the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences threw surprises into all of the other major categories.

“Barbie” broke two heels, failing to score a directing nomination for Greta Gerwig or a best actress berth for Margot Robbie. On the upside, “Barbie” (Warner Bros.) figured somewhat unexpectedly into the supporting actress category, with America Ferrera receiving her first nomination for playing a harried mother in the film. The film received eight nominations overall, including for best picture and for the adapted screenplay by Gerwig and Noah Baumbach.

Voters recognized Colman Domingo’s lead performance as a brilliant yet flawed political organizer in “Rustin,” while excluding Leonardo DiCaprio (“Killers of the Flower Moon”), a seven-time nominee and one-time winner, from the best actor race. In the supporting actor field, Sterling K. Brown received his first nomination for his performance as a chaos-inducing cosmetic surgeon in “American Fiction,” while Willem Dafoe (“Poor Things”) was denied a nomination.

A Gay Man in a Gay Role

Domingo joined a rarefied club Tuesday: With his nomination for his performance as civil rights activist Bayard Rustin, he became only the second openly gay man to be nominated for playing a gay character. Ian McKellen was the first, in 1999, for “Gods and Monsters” and his portrayal of James Whale, the real-life director of the iconic 1930s horror films “Frankenstein” and “Bride of Frankenstein.”

Andrew Scott was also considered a potential nominee for his heart-wrenching role as a gay screenwriter in “All of Us Strangers,” but he was not recognized.

Over the decades, many straight male actors have earned Oscar nominations for playing LGBTQ characters, and quite a few of them won a statuette: William Hurt won in 1986 for portraying a transgender woman in “Kiss of the Spider Woman”; Tom Hanks in 1994 for his role as a lawyer dying of AIDS in “Philadelphia”; Sean Penn in 2009 for playing Harvey Milk in “Milk”; Jared Leto in 2014 for playing a transgender woman in “Dallas Buyers Club”; Rami Malek in 2019 for his turn as Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody”; and last year, Brendan Fraser for playing a 600-pound gay man in “The Whale” — to name a few.

On Tuesday, that list grew longer with the nomination of Cooper for his role as the storied American conductor Leonard Bernstein in “Maestro.” Bernstein had relationships with both men and women, and the film focuses primarily on Bernstein’s personal life.

An Indigenous Breakthrough

Gladstone’s nomination for “Killers of the Flower Moon” makes her the first Native American person to contend for a competitive acting Academy Award. In the film, she plays Mollie Burkhart, an Osage woman whose white husband is part of a murderous conspiracy.

Gladstone, 37, who has Blackfeet and Nez Percé heritage, isn’t the first Indigenous artist to earn a best actress nomination — Keisha Castle-Hughes (“Whale Rider,” 2003) and Yalitza Aparicio (“Roma,” 2018) were also nominated in the same category — but she is the first from the United States. Folk singer Buffy Sainte-Marie is considered the first Indigenous person to win an Oscar (for best song, “Up Where We Belong” from “An Officer and a Gentleman,” in 1983), but her heritage has recently been disputed. And in 2019, Wes Studi, who is Cherokee American, was given an honorary Oscar for “his indelible film portrayals and for his steadfast support of the Native American community.”

Gladstone has had a busy first month of 2024: On Jan. 7, she became the first Indigenous person to win a Golden Globe for best actress, delivering a powerful speech in which she spoke a few lines in the Blackfeet language. She also picked up a best actress win from the New York Film Critics Circle, as well as nominations from the Critics Choice Awards and the Screen Actors Guild.

Here’s what else you need to know:

— “Poor Things,” a twist on the Frankenstein story from Searchlight Pictures, received the second-largest number of nominations — 11 — including one for best picture.

Joining in the best picture category were smaller, character-driven films like “American Fiction,” a satire about a writer who puts together a novel that turns on racial stereotypes; “Anatomy of a Fall,” a legal drama set in the French Alps and partly filmed in French; “The Holdovers,” a bittersweet period comedy set at an American prep school; “Maestro,” a divisive black-and-white examination of conductor-composer Leonard Bernstein’s personal life; “Past Lives,” a romance filmed partly in Korean; and “The Zone of Interest,” set in the shadow of Auschwitz during the Holocaust.

“Barbie” and “Killers of the Flower Moon,” which collected $156 million worldwide, rounded out the category.

— Joining Domingo as best actor contenders were Bradley Cooper (“Maestro”), Paul Giamatti (“The Holdovers”), Cillian Murphy (“Oppenheimer”) and Jeffrey Wright (“American Fiction”).

— Annette Bening (“Nyad”), Lily Gladstone (“Killers of the Flower Moon”), Sandra Hüller (“Anatomy of a Fall”), Carey Mulligan (“Maestro”) and Emma Stone (“Poor Things”) were nominated for best actress. That meant that Greta Lee (“Past Lives”), Fantasia Barrino (“The Color Purple”) and, most notably, Robbie were left off the list in a year that was quite strong in terms of roles for women overall. Gladstone became the first Native American performer to receive an acting nomination.

— Along with Brown, the best supporting actor nominees were Robert De Niro (“Killers of the Flower Moon”), Ryan Gosling (“Barbie”), Mark Ruffalo (“Poor Things”) and Robert Downey Jr. (“Oppenheimer”), who is considered the front-runner.

— Rounding out the best supporting actress nominees were Emily Blunt (“Oppenheimer”), Danielle Brooks (“The Color Purple”), Jodie Foster (“Nyad”) and Da’Vine Joy Randolph (“The Holdovers”), who is seen as the favorite.

— The increasingly international academy gave a best director nomination to French filmmaker Justine Triet, who directed and co-wrote “Anatomy of a Fall,” a did-she-or-didn’t-she legal thriller. Joining Triet and Nolan in the category were Jonathan Glazer (“Zone of Interest”), Yorgos Lanthimos (“Poor Things”) and Martin Scorsese (“Killers of the Flower Moon”), who passed Steven Spielberg to become the most-nominated living director, with 10 nods.

— Through its various divisions, Disney racked up 20 nominations, the most of any company. All told, however, technology companies dominated. Netflix received a total of 18, including honors for short films and a lone nomination for “May December” in the original screenplay race. Apple TV+ received 13 nods, with “Killers of the Flower Moon” receiving 10 and “Napoleon” earning three. Amazon’s MGM division received five.

After a year that found the movie industry hobbled for months by strikes by writers and actors, ballots were cast from more than 90 countries, academy officials said. ABC will broadcast the 96th Academy Awards on March 10.

Viewership totals for the Oscars telecast perked up last year, reaching about 19 million. Only 10.4 million people watched the pared-down pandemic edition of the Oscars in 2021, setting off alarm bells within ABC and the entire entertainment industry. ABC and the academy are hoping the popularity of “Oppenheimer,” which collected $953 million worldwide, and “Barbie,” with $1.4 billion in ticket sales, will give this year’s telecast an added viewership boost.

Oscar Nominees 2024

Best Picture


“American Fiction”

“Anatomy of a Fall”

“Barbie”

“The Holdovers”

“Killers of the Flower Moon”

“Maestro”

“Oppenheimer”

“Past Lives”

“Poor Things”

“The Zone of Interest”

Best Director

Jonathan Glazer, “The Zone of Interest”

Yorgos Lanthimos, “Poor Things”

Christopher Nolan, “Oppenheimer”

Martin Scorsese, “Killers of the Flower Moon”

Justine Triet, “Anatomy of a Fall”

Best Actor

Bradley Cooper, “Maestro”

Colman Domingo, “Rustin”

Paul Giamatti, “The Holdovers”

Cillian Murphy, “Oppenheimer”

Jeffrey Wright, “American Fiction”

Best Actress

Annette Bening, “Nyad”

Lily Gladstone, “Killers of the Flower Moon”

Sandra Hüller, “Anatomy of a Fall”

Carey Mulligan, “Maestro”

Emma Stone, “Poor Things”

Best Supporting Actor

Sterling K. Brown, “American Fiction”

Robert De Niro, “Killers of the Flower Moon”

Robert Downey Jr., “Oppenheimer”

Ryan Gosling, “Barbie”

Mark Ruffalo, “Poor Things”

Best Supporting Actress

Emily Blunt, “Oppenheimer”

Danielle Brooks, “The Color Purple”

America Ferrera, “Barbie”

Jodie Foster, “Nyad”

Da’Vine Joy Randolph, “The Holdovers”

Original Screenplay

“Anatomy of a Fall”

“The Holdovers”

“May December”

“Maestro”

“Past Lives”

Adapted Screenplay

“American Fiction”

“Barbie”

“Oppenheimer”

“Poor Things”

“The Zone of Interest”

Animated Feature

“The Boy and the Heron”

“Elemental”

“Nimona”

“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse”

“Robot Dreams”

Production Design

“Barbie”

“Killers of the Flower Moon”

“Napoleon”

“Oppenheimer”

“Poor Things”

Costume Design

“Barbie”

“Killers of the Flower Moon”

“Napoleon”

“Oppenheimer”

“Poor Things”

Cinematography

“El Conde”

“Killers of the Flower Moon”

“Maestro”

“Oppenheimer”

“Poor Things”

Editing

“Anatomy of a Fall”

“The Holdovers”

“Killers of the Flower Moon”

“Oppenheimer”

“Poor Things”

Makeup and Hairstyling

“Golda”

“Maestro”

“Oppenheimer”

“Poor Things”

“Society of the Snow”

Sound

“The Creator”

“Maestro”

“Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One”

“Oppenheimer”

“The Zone of Interest”

Visual Effects

“The Creator”

“Godzilla Minus One”

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3”

“Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One”

“Napoleon”

Original Score

“American Fiction”

“Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny”

“Killers of the Flower Moon”

“Oppenheimer”

“Poor Things”

Original Song

“The Fire Inside” (“Flamin’ Hot”)

“I’m Just Ken” (“Barbie”)

“It Never Went Away” (“American Symphony”)

“Wahzhazhe (A Song For My People)” (“Killers of the Flower Moon”)

“What Was I Made For?” (“Barbie”)

Documentary Feature

“Bobi Wine: The People’s President”

“The Eternal Memory”

“Four Daughters”

“To Kill a Tiger”

“20 Days in Mariupol”

International Feature

“The Teachers’ Lounge,” Germany

“Io Capitano,” Italy

“Perfect Days,” Japan

“Society of the Snow,” Spain

“The Zone of Interest,” United Kingdom

Animated Short

“Letter to a Pig”

“Ninety-Five Senses”

“Our Uniform”

“Pachyderme”

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

Documentary Short

“The ABCs of Book Banning”

“The Barber of Little Rock”

“Island in Between”

“The Last Repair Shop”

“Nai Nai & Wai Po”

Live-Action Short

“The After”

“Invincible”

“Knight of Fortune”

“Red, White and Blue”

“The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar”

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.










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