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OPPENHEIMER wins big at Oscars

OPPENHEIMER wins big at Oscars

notes Norman Warwick

In his Best Director recipient speech , Christopher Nolan reminded us that it’s a privilege to witness the first 100 years of filmmaking. Although the first 100 years of art or literature, or film are perhaps only teenage years in terms of life expectancy, the 96th Oscars aired recently with a smooth, if predictable, ceremony honouring the past year of films. It is incredible to see how far the cinematic arts have grown from silent movies to computer generated footage.

Oppenheimer took seven other awards, quite apart from the catgory for  which Nolan expressed his gratitude, including Best Actor Cillian Murphy, both first-time winners. (Nolan had been nominated multiple times in various categories for DunkirkInception, and Memento, but never took one home,)  Oppenheimer garnered more awards than any other film at this year’s ceremony, 

Oppenheimer surprised no one, so  when presenter Al Pacino announced it as the 2024 Best Picture winner, he did so in way that emphasised the inevitability of the success, 

Poor Things followed with four victories — including three Best Production Design, Costume Design and Makeup & Hairstyling. Emma Stone reacted to her Best Actress win with a visible combination of shock and gratitude, for it seemed that even the two-time winner was surprised to hear her name called; many had predicted Killers of the Flower Moon’s Lily Gladstone to take home the award. Her stunning performance as Mollie Burkhart made history when she became the first Native American woman to be nominated for the Best Actress category. After winning a SAG Award for the role, among other precursors, her victory seemed assured, making her loss possibly the biggest snub of the night.

Killers of the Flower Moon (right) went home empty-handed, similar to Barbie, which only scored a Best Original Song win for Billie Eillish’s “What Was I Made For?” This made Billie and her brother and musical partner Finneas the youngest ever two-time Oscar winners across all categories. In fact, the music of Barbie practically sound-tracked the ceremony this year; Billie and Finneas performed a gorgeous orchestral rendition of the Oscar-winning song bathed in pink light, drawing many tears from the crowd.

But Paste on line magazine made note of the fact that the movie’s  ´Kens´ still managed to steal the show, as supporting actor nominee Ryan Gosling performed a sparkling rendition of “I’m Just Ken,” starting from his seat before rising to the stage, where he was joined by 65 male dancers. Barbie actors Simu Liu, Kingsley Ben-Adir and Ncuti Gatwa joined the ensemble of cowboy Kens — with Slash from Guns ‘N Roses adding guitar for extra power-ballad cred. An instrumental rendition of “I’m Just Ken” even played out during the ceremony’s credits, lodging the earworm in place for the foreseeable future (for better or for worse).

This year, the Oscars revived an old presentation twist, where previous winners of the acting awards introduced this year’s nominees. It was a sweet note from the very first award of the night — Best Supporting Actress. Each of five returning winners gave a brief congratulatory speech to the five nominees — a clever pull at the heartstrings that naturally adds context to each of the showcased performances.

It was impossible not to swell with emotion as 2014 winner Lupita Nyong’o honored a crying Da’Vine Joy Randolph, the winner in the category for her role in The Holdovers. Jamie Lee Curtis presented the supporting actress award, but it was also a pleasure to see the rest of the Everything Everywhere All At Once cast return to the ceremony one year after the Best Picture winner’s monumental sweep; Michelle Yeoh presented the Best Actress award to Stone, while Ke Huy Quan presented Best Supporting Actor to winner Robert Downey Jr. Downey was one of several longtime film-fan favorites to walk away with an award; if nothing else, the 2024 Oscars should be remembered as the ceremony where statues were handed out to Jonathan Glazer (for directing Best International Feature The Zone of Interest), Wes Anderson (for directing Best Live Action Shot The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar), and Godzilla (well, his visual effects team, anyway, for Godzilla Minus One).

For his second consecutive year hosting, veteran Oscars emcee Jimmy Kimmel toned down the spectacle and upped the crudeness of his monologue. In typical Kimmel fashion, the ABC late night host brought his typical deadpan bite, easing his crowd into the set by poking mild fun at Madame Web and playfully chastising the room for not nominating Greta Gerwig.

It was a monologue that showed him punching his weight but  his fighting pride would have been hurt by some painful moments, including a drug joke aimed at Robert Downey Jr. which resulted in an uncomfortable non-verbal exchange between the two men.. Kimmel’s droll humour doesn’t always fit the ceremonious occasion, but at this point he seems confident leaning into his take-no-prisoners roasts and late-night political humour even when his crowd might resist.

The 13-minute monologue ended with Kimmel candidly addressing the writers and actors strikes that froze Hollywood last year. He  commended  the industry workers who showed up to the picket line. He then called to the stage a group of the behind-the-scenes workers to celebrate their instrumental role in successfully landing a deal to end the strike The entire crowd, summoned by  Kimmel to do so, immediately rose to their feet in one of the most memorable moments of the night.

In addition to Kimmel’s occasional quips at Trump (including reading an actual barely-coherent social-media post the ex-president made during the show), many attendees made political statements of their own. To comment on the ongoing conflict in Gaza, many attendees, such as Rami Youssef and Billie Eillish, wore red pins to show their solidarity with Palestine. While accepting his award for Best International Film, The Zone of Interest director Jonathan Glazer railed against the Israeli bombardment of Gaza — one of the only winners to comment on the conflict throughout this award season.

It’s always painful to witness ill-paired presenters struggle through scripted banter (pity real-life friends Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer, stranded with flatlining jokes), but many presenter bits paid off this year. Reunited Twins co-stars and Best Visual Effects presenters Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito bonded not over their old hit comedy but their mutual status as ex-Batman villains, roping in retired Batman Michael Keaton from the audience  for an unexpected and hilarious moment. Similarly, while presenting the award for Best Costume Design, John Cena took the opportunity to pay homage to one of the most shocking moments in the Academy’s history — the 1974 Oscars when a streaker ran across the stage while David Niven presented an award. It’s rare (though lucky) that this year, the most surprising moment was pre-planned. Of course, however, Messi the dog’s applause for Robert Downey Jr. was just as exciting in its own right.

The 2024 Oscars undoubtedly felt less exciting than some previous years. After all there were no big shockers like the Moonlight mishap, no major underdog vindications like the culmination of last year’s Everything Everywhere   campaign. The winners were fairly predictable, with the two most-nominated films emerging as the two most-awarded; even Stone’s likely squeaker over Gladstone didn’t emerge out of nowhere. Still, this ceremony reminded us of the award show’s legacy, bringing winners old and new coming to the stage to revel in the past year of cinema, and to reflect on the current state of the industry.

You can also read our own review of Oppenheimer in our easy to negotatie archives of almost 1,200 free-to read articles. Simply tap in Oppenheimer on our search engine.

acknowledgements

The primary source for this piece was published in Paste on-line magazine and other sources have been attributed in our text wherever possible

Images employed have been taken from on line sites only where  categorised as  images free to use.

For a more comprehensive detail of our attribution policy see our for reference only post on 7th April 2023  entitled Aspirations And Attributions.

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