‘Oppenheimer’ dominates Academy Awards with 7 Oscars as Hollywood’s old guard laps streaming companies


Oppenheimer, the biographical film about the inventor of the atomic bomb, picked up a total of seven Academy Awards, including best picture and best director for Christopher Nolan.

Cillian Murphy won the best actor award for his portrayal of physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer. Robert Downey Jr. picked up the best supporting actor award for playing his nemesis Lewis Strauss. 

The three-hour film from Comcast Corp.’s Universal Pictures led the nominations with 13. It also won for film editing, cinematography and score. 

Emma Stone won best actress for her work in Poor Things, from Walt Disney Co.’s Searchlight Pictures division. The twist on the Frankenstein story took home four trophies in total, including production design, costumes and makeup. She beat out Lily Gladstone, who was in line to become the first Native American to win an Oscar for her role in Apple Inc.’s Killers of the Flower Moon.

The awards marked a big night for Hollywood’s old guard and a disappointment for streaming companies. While Universal and Disney’s Searchlight scored with Oppenheimer and Poor Things, respectively, Netflix Inc. won only for a film short and Apple was shut out. Amazon.com Inc.’s MGM distributed American Fiction, winner of best adapted screenplay.

Da’Vine Joy Randolph’s award for best supporting actress kicked off the ceremony. Randolph won for her portrayal of a cook at a prep school in the Universal/Focus Features film The Holdovers. Studio Ghibli’s The Boy and the Heron snagged best animated feature. Director Wes Anderson won his first Oscar for the live action short film The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar, distributed by Netflix

The French film Anatomy of a Fall won for best original screenplay.

The documentary feature award went to 20 Days in Mariupol, about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It was the first ever Oscar awarded to a Ukrainian filmmaker. The Nazi concentration camp drama The Zone of Interest, from the independent studio A24, won best international film.

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences’ 96th annual ceremony was hosted this year by late night star Jimmy Kimmel. It began at about 4 p.m. local time in Los Angeles and aired on Disney’s ABC network. 

Protesters chanting “cease-fire now” and “long live Palestine” demonstrated on Hollywood Boulevard outside the Dolby Theatre where the ceremony is held. They were kept behind chain-link fencing, with a heavy presence of police in riot gear after the authorities ordered them to disperse.

On betting sites such as FanDuel and DraftKings, Oppenheimer was such a favorite for best picture that gamblers needed to put up $5,000 just to win $100.

“I don’t think that there’ll be an upset, not because the other movies aren’t great, but because none of the other movies feel like they’ve captured the consensus vote as an alternative,” Michael Schulman, the author of Oscar Wars: A History of Hollywood in Gold, Sweat and Tears, said before the ceremony.

In Nolan, the industry rallied behind a director who’s been a champion of showing movies in theaters and shooting them on film, rather than digitally. He’d been nominated several times before but had never won an Oscar.

Oppenheimer, a period piece that has grossed $954 million in theaters, harkens back to an era when big Hollywood productions took home the industry’s top awards, and not the smaller budget, art-house films that have dominated more recently. The picture picked up multiple trophies leading up to Sunday’s ceremony, including best drama at the Golden Globes and best film from the Producers Guild of America and the British film academy.

Last year, A24’s Everything Everywhere All at Once was nominated 11 times and won seven.

The nominations pitted two of last year’s highest-grossing films against each other. Barbie, the biggest box office draw in 2023, was also a contender for best picture. It was nominated for eight awards but won only for best song for singer Billie Eilish’s What Was I Made For?

The two films were released on the same day last July, sparking a social media frenzy known as “Barbenheimer” that prompted many fans to watch them back-to-back in theaters.

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