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Oscars 2024: Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ wins Best Picture, night’s most awarded film

Emily Blunt (left) and Ryan Gosling (right) stand illuminated on the Dolby Theatre stage at the 2024 Academy Awards. The actors were nominated for their supporting roles in “Oppenheimer” and “Barbie.” (Courtesy of Trae Patton ©A.M.P.A.S.)

By Yuna Choi

March 10, 2024 9:49 p.m.

Correction: The original version of this article misspelled Anya Taylor-Joy's name. In addition, the original version of this article's photo caption misspelled the name of the film "Oppenheimer."

This post was updated March 13 at 11:13 p.m.

From red carpets to silver screens, the Oscars immortalized a night of glitz, glamor and unforgettable performances. 

Jimmy Kimmel returned to the stage once again to host the 96th Academy Awards at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre on Sunday. Kimmel began the night by posing humorous quips toward this year’s nominees, including the box office phenomenon “Barbenheimer” and the previously nominated “Taxi Driver” duo Robert De Niro and Jodie Foster. 

Introducing the nominees for Best Supporting Actress were previous winners of the category – Jamie Lee Curtis, Mary Steenburgen, Lupita Nyong’o, Regina King and Rita Moreno. Claiming the first award of the night, Da’Vine Joy Randolph was awarded the first Oscar in her career for her role in “The Holdovers.” Chris Hemsworth and Anya Taylor-Joy presented the next award for Best Animated Feature, celebrating Hayao Miyazaki and Toshio Suzuki’s artistic excellence in the newest Studio Ghibli film, “The Boy and the Heron.”

Among several box office hits such as “Barbie,” “Poor Things” and “Oppenheimer,” “American Fiction” was nominated for five awards and took home its first Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. This was followed by Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell’s performance of Grammy-winning “What Was I Made For?,” which preluded the Academy Award for Best Hair and Makeup that was nabbed by “Poor Things.”

Kimmel and John Cena broke the serious mood with a humorous skit preceding the nominees of Best Costume Design. As a blast to the past, Cena presented the award to “Poor Things” naked, a playful gesture paying homage to a daring streaker who famously dashed across the stage fifty years earlier.

Zooming out globally, the United Kingdom won the Best International Film award with Jonathan Glazer’s “The Zone of Interest.” Subsequently, Emily Blunt and Ryan Gosling squabbled over “Barbenheimer” while paying tribute to stunt coordinators and their community.

A profound lineup of nominees – Sterling K. Brown, Robert De Niro, Robert Downey Jr., Gosling and Mark Ruffalo – were introduced by previous winners of the Best Supporting Actor category. Presented by last year’s winner Ke Huy Quan, the title was crowned to Downey Jr. for his portrayal of Lewis Strauss.

“I’d like to thank my terrible childhood and the Academy, in that order,” Downey Jr. said. “Here’s my little secret: I needed this job more than it needed me. … I stand here before you a better man because of it. You know, what we do is meaningful, and the stuff we decide to make is important.” 

A duo with great chemistry and an even greater height difference, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny Devito presented the award for Best Visual Effects, which was snatched up by “Godzilla Minus One.” Afterward, Best Original Song nominee “It Never Went Away” was performed by Jon Batiste.

Director Mstyslav Chernov then dedicated Best Documentary Feature Film “20 Days in Mariupol” to Ukraine’s historic first Oscar. During his speech, he made the heavy claim of wishing he never made the film, using the platform to speak out against Russia’s occupation of Ukraine. 

“I cannot change the history, I cannot change the past,” Chernov said. “But we all together – you – among you, some of the most talented people in the world, we can make sure that the history record is set straight and that the truth will prevail. And that the people of Mariupol and those who have given their lives will never be forgotten, because cinema forms memories, and memories form history.” 

Winning its third Oscar, “Oppenheimer” continued its sweep with Best Cinematography. Becky G then stood alongside a line of young girls to deliver a fiery performance of her nominated song “The Fire Inside.” Subsequently, “The Zone of Interest” garnered its second win of the night for Best Sound. 

Continuing the Best Song nominee performances, Gosling flaunted a bedazzled hot pink suit as he sang “I’m Just Ken.” The “Kenergy” was felt when fellow Kens from “Barbie,” Simu Liu, Ncuti Gatwa and others joined him on stage to demonstrate how they are indeed “great at doing stuff.”

The title of Best Original Song ended up going to Eilish’s chart-topper “What Was I Made For?,” also featured in “Barbie.” The song’s undertones capture the evolving portrayal of femininity and empowerment, extending its relevance past the movie as an anthem for embracing one’s true self. 

Entering the night’s homestretch, the nominees presented for Best Actor in a Leading Role included Paul Giamatti, Bradley Cooper, Colman Domingo, Cillian Murphy and Jeffrey Wright. Presented by previous year’s winner Brendan Fraser, Murphy – in his first nomination – won the Oscar for his masterful performance as the titular physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer. Following his lead actor, Christopher Nolan then won Best Director for “Oppenheimer.”

As the night came to a close, the lead actress nominees – Lily Gladstone, Emma Stone, Sandra Hüller, Annette Bening and Carey Mulligan – were presented. Stone received the honor from last year’s Best Actress winner Michelle Yeoh for her performance as Bella Baxter in “Poor Things.” Her heartfelt acceptance speech stressed how thankful she was to be able to bring her character to life.

“I was panicking, as you can kind of see, it happens a lot, that maybe something like this could happen,” Stone said. “And Yorgos said to me, ‘Please take yourself out of it.’ And he was right because it’s not about me. It’s about a team that came together to make something greater than the sum of its parts, and that is the best part about making movies: It’s all of us, together.” 

Commemorating the 50th anniversary of “The Godfather Part II” was Al Pacino, who presented the statuette for Best Picture, awarded to “Oppenheimer.” With a total of seven wins of its 15 nominations, Nolan’s biopic concluded the night with a bang as the night’s most accoladed movie.

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Yuna Choi
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