'Oppenheimer' sweeps the BAFTAs with 7 awards including best film

'Oppenheimer' sweeps the BAFTAs with 7 awards including best film

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
'Oppenheimer' sweeps the BAFTAs with 7 awards including best film
Cillian Murphy and Andrew Scott pose as they arrive at the 2024 British Academy of Film and Television Awards (BAFTA) at the Royal Festival Hall in the Southbank Centre, London, Britain, on Sunday. (Photo: Reuters)

LONDON - "Oppenheimer", Christopher Nolan's blockbuster movie about the development of the atomic bomb, swept the board at the EE British Academy Film Awards in London on Sunday.

The movie won seven awards at Britain's equivalent of the Oscars, including best film, best director for Nolan and best leading actor for Cillian Murphy for his portrayal of physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer.

It beat four other nominees to the best film prize, including "Poor Things", Yorgos Lanthimos' take on a Frankenstein story; and "The Holdovers", Alexander Payne’s comedy about a boarding schoolteacher stuck looking after a student over the holidays. It also beat "Killers of the Flower Moon", Martin Scorsese's 3-1/2-hour epic about the Osage murders of the 1920s; and "Anatomy of a Fall", Justine Triet's multilingual courtroom drama about a woman accused of murdering her husband.

In the days leading up to the awards, commonly known as the BAFTAs, most British movie critics predicted that "Oppenheimer" would win big. Tom Shone, writing in The Times of London, said Nolan's "magnum opus" was an instant classic. "Sometimes the front-runner is the front-runner for a reason," he added.

Still, the prizes were Nolan's first director wins at the BAFTAs, despite several previous nominations for his movies "Inception" and "Dunkirk".

Cillian Murphy in Oppenheimer (Photo: IMDB)

At the ceremony at London’s Royal Festival Hall, Nolan, who grew up in London, seemed a little overwhelmed by all the accolades. Accepting the best director prize, he called the award "an incredible honour" then reminisced about his parents dragging him to the festival hall, a major classical music venue as a boy. In fact, he said, his younger brother, now also a television and filmmaker, had beaten him to the hall's stage "by about 40 years" because he once took part in a performance of "The Nutcracker".

Accepting the best actor prize, Murphy also seemed shocked. "Holy moly!" he said, before thanking Nolan and producer Emma Thomas, Nolan's wife, for allowing him to play the "colossally, knotty, complex character" of Oppenheimer. Nolan and Thomas saw "something in me that I probably didn’t see in myself," Murphy added.

In a somewhat bizarre end to the evening, the "Oppenheimer" stars accepted the best movie award next to someone BAFTA called a social media prankster. The prankster, who stood silently onstage next to Murphy, was removed by security afterward, a BAFTA spokesperson said in an email.

BAFTA said it took the intrusion "very seriously" but declined to comment further. The show's audience included Prince William, the heir to the British throne.

Among the other awards for "Oppenheimer" were best supporting actor for Robert Downey Jr. as Lewis Strauss, the Oppenheimer nemesis who insisted he would only lead the Atomic Energy Commission if Oppenheimer were removed from his consulting role; best original score; best editing; and best cinematography.

Those wins come just weeks after the movie captured five of the main awards at this year's Golden Globes and will be seen by many as further boosting its chances for next month's Oscars, especially because the BAFTA and Oscar voting bodies overlap.

Even with "Oppenheimer" dominating the event, several other movies did well. "Poor Things" took five prizes, including the best leading actress award for Emma Stone. Accepting that prize, Stone, who is American, first thanked Neil Swain, her dialect coach, for teaching her how to speak in a British accent. "He did not laugh at me when he taught me how to say 'water'," she said, to laughs from the audience. Its other awards were for makeup and hair, costume, special visual effects and production design.

"The Zone of Interest", Jonathan Glazer's art house movie about a German family's day-to-day life near the Auschwitz concentration camp during the Holocaust, also did well, winning three awards, including best film not in the English language — a highly contested category in which it surpassed both "Anatomy of a Fall" and "Past Lives", Celine Song's romantic movie about two childhood friends who keep reuniting in later life.

Among the other notable winners was Da’Vine Joy Randolph, who took the best supporting actress award for her performance as a school cook mourning the death of her son in "The Holdovers".

Randolph is also nominated in the best supporting actress category at this year's Oscars, scheduled for March 10.


This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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