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Nolan & Murphy Make History: Oppenheimer Sweeps BAFTAs with Best Picture, Director & Actor

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Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer,” a three-hour epic about the making of the atomic bomb in World War Two, was the big winner at the BAFTA Film Awards on Sunday, winning the top honors for best film and best director as well as five other awards. The movie also won awards for leading actor Cillian Murphy, who portrays the American theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, supporting actor Robert Downey Jr, and editing, cinematography, and original score. The film is one of the highest-grossing movies of 2023, and its haul at the British Academy’s annual awards ceremony makes it a strong contender for the Oscars, which will be announced on 23 January.

Nolan’s win in the best director category was his first at the ceremony, and he gave a moving speech about the film’s legacy. He called the project “a labor of love” and said it had come from a need to tell a story that had been suppressed for too long. He thanked the cast and crew for “taking on something dark” and said it had been a “privileged journey.”

Downey took home his third BAFTA of his career in the best supporting actor category, which he shared with co-star Emily Blunt. He thanked his family for being there for him while trying to “find something worthy” in his acting career.

This year’s awards were held at the Royal Festival Hall in London and were hosted by David Tennant, who has been hosting the event since 2013. Yorgos Lanthimos’ spellbinding gothic drama Poor Things won second most prizes, with five, including best actress for Emma Stone and costume, makeup and hair design, production, and visual effects. Holocaust drama The Zone of Interest won four awards, while Alexander Payne’s 1970s-set comedy The Holdovers was shut out despite having nine nominations.

The wins for Nolan and Murphy make Oppenheimer a frontrunner at the Oscars, where it could face competition from Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon, Bradley Cooper’s Maestro, and Celine Song’s drama Past Lives. But the fact that the movie has already collected almost $958m at the box office can give it a significant boost, as Oscar voters are keen to reward films that keep theaters alive.

The only major disappointment of the night was for Greta Gerwig’s Barbie, which lost in every category it was nominated in. The summer’s most significant box office phenomenon was competing with its runaway hit. Still, it was shut out in the lead actress category and several other nominees, such as Paul Giamatti in The Holdovers and Da’Vine Joy Randolph in Past Lives. But the movie may find redemption at next month’s Golden Globes, where it is nominated for ten awards.

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