‘Oppenheimer,’ ‘Poor Things’ get most Oscar nominations; Robbie, Gerwig, DiCaprio are among those snubbed

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“Oppenheimer,” starring Cillian Murphy, has received 13 Oscar nominations.

It was a good morning for the father of the atomic bomb and a steampunk Frankenstein’s monster.

For America’s favorite doll? Not so much.

This year, Oscar voters awarded 13 nominations to Christoper Nolan’s epic “Oppenheimer.” “Poor Things,” the mad fantasy from Yorgos Lanthimos, got 11.

But while “Barbie” notched eight nominations, including Best Picture, it fell behind in other big races. Greta Gerwig went unmentioned in the directing category. Star Margot Robbie failed to nab a Best Actress nod.

Perhaps, even in the Academy’s 96th year, voters still look down their noses at comedies, even clever ones. Perhaps they felt the film’s billion-dollar box office was reward enough.

But those omissions didn’t detract from a diverse roster whose strong acknowledgement of international films and performers of color may reflect the Academy’s own growing, and broadening, membership. (This year’s voters represented a record 93 countries).

Even with that wider voting base, Oscar still held onto some longtime traditions. Serious films predominated (Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” notched 10 nominations). Biopics were popular, with “Maestro,” “Ruskin,” “Oppenheimer” and “Nyad” all joining Scorsese’s film among the nominees.

Lily Gladstone in “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

Still, there were some notable firsts (including the first Best Actress nomination for a Native American performer, Lily Gladstone). And some surprises.

The Best Actress field includes Gladstone for “Killers of the Flower Moon”; Annette Bening for “Nyad”; Carey Mulligan for “Maestro”; and Emma Stone for “Poor Things.” The surprise was Robbie being shut out, perhaps making room for Sandra Hüller in the French film “Anatomy of a Fall.” (Bening, a veteran actress who never has won, enters the race with some sentimental support; Gladstone, though, is clearly the frontrunner.)

Best Actor contenders include Bradley Cooper for “Maestro”; Paul Giamatti for “The Holdovers”; Cillian Murphy for “Oppenheimer”; and Jeffrey Wright for “American Fiction.” But Leonardo DiCaprio came up empty for his turn in “Killers of the Flower Moon,” as did Adam Driver for “Ferrari” and Joaquin Phoenix for “Napoleon” — all of which helped make room for the more deserving Colman Domingo, for “Ruskin.” (Murphy is probably the favorite here, although Giamatti seems to be gaining support.)

The Best Supporting Actress nominees are an eclectic lot. There were no surprises in the attention paid to Emily Blunt, for “Oppenheimer”; Da’Vine Joy Randolph for “The Holdovers”; or even America Ferrera for her eat-up-the-screen monologue in “Barbie.” But Jodie Foster’s slot for “Nyad” had hardly seemed like a sure thing, nor had Danielle Brooks’ for “The Color Purple” — the sole major nomination for that ambitious and underperforming musical. (Still, it was a shame there was no room for Penélope Cruz’ fiery turn in “Ferrari.”)

With its massive and masterful cast, “Oppenheimer” probably could have filled the Best Supporting Actor category all by itself. As it turned out, it had to settle for one nomination here, for Robert Downey Jr. It fell to Sterling K. Brown in “American Fiction,” Robert De Niro in “Killers of the Flower Moon,” Mark Ruffalo in “Poor Things” and Ryan Gosling in “Barbie” to complete the rest of the field, with Brown the only surprise. (Was his nomination the result of Willem Dafoe not getting one for “Poor Things”? Perhaps.)

Emma Stone and Mark Ruffalo in “Poor Things.”

The Best Director lineup represents, possibly, the clearest proof of how international the Oscars, and filmmaking, have become, with Scorsese the sole American to get a nod. His honored colleagues include France’s Justine Triet for “Anatomy of a Fall”; Britain’s Nolan and Jonathan Glazer for “Oppenheimer” and “The Zone of Interest,” respectively; and Greece’s Lanthimos for “Poor Things.” Triet’s inclusion — not only for a foreign-language film, but as a female filmmaker — was doubly noteworthy.

For Best Picture, the Academy chose to nominate 10 very different films: “American Fiction,” “Anatomy of a Fall,” “Barbie,” “The Holdovers,” “Killers of the Flower Moon,” “Maestro,” “Oppenheimer,” “Past Lives,” “Poor Things” and “The Zone of Interest.” These choices are intriguing. Several of these films, such as “The Holdovers,” tell much more modest stories than the usual Best Picture hopefuls; the similarly small-scaled “Past Lives” is a first feature from Celine Song and largely in Korean.

What is the favorite in this category? “Oppenheimer” feels like the most obviously impressive achievement; it says “important film” in a way that, for example, the calmly, beautifully observed “The Holdovers” doesn’t. But voters tend to favor films that end on an uplifting note, something that “Oppenheimer” — and, frankly, few of its rivals — do. It will be interesting to see what films garner some of the upcoming prizes, such as the honors handed out by the Producers Guild, the Screen Actors Guild, and BAFTA.

Those groups include large numbers of Oscar voters. Up until now, most of the big prizes have been handed out by critics — and while they can start “the conversation,” their picks aren’t the last word when it comes to actual nominations. Because if they were, we’d all be reading about the multiple mentions racked up today by “May December.” And “Saltburn.” And “All of Us Strangers.” And “The Taste of Things.” And “Fallen Leaves.”

All of which are still very much worth watching.

And none of which you can expect to hear very much about on March 10, when they give out those little gold-plated statues.

For the complete list of nominees, visit oscars.org/oscars/ceremonies/2024.


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