Nolan’s extraordinary depiction of the father of atomic bomb, a major part of last summer’s widespread “Barbenheimer” movement, also garnered awards for lead actor Cillian Murphy and supporting actor Robert Downey Jr.

Irish thespian Cillian Murphy won an Oscar for his portrayal of J. Robert Oppenheimer, flanked by (from back L) past winners Nicolas Cage, Matthew McConaughey, Brendan Fraser, Ben Kingsley and Forest Whitaker. Photo: AFP

Nolan, a highly acclaimed British-American filmmaker, believes that movies, as an art form, still have room for growth.

“Movies have been around for just over 100 years. I mean, imagine being there 100 years into painting or theater,” he expressed to the audience at the Dolby Theatre.

“We don’t know where this incredible journey is leading us. But knowing that you see me as a significant part of it means the world to me.”

Although the movie fell short of winning all 13 nominations, “Oppenheimer” still ranks among the most decorated films in Oscar history with seven statuettes.

Robert Downey Jr was recognized for his remarkable performance as J. Robert Oppenheimer’s political rival, Lewis Strauss.

“I would like to express my gratitude to my difficult childhood and the Academy, in that order,” declared Downey after receiving the award.

Downey, who had been the subject of a joke by host Jimmy Kimmel about his well-known struggles with drug addiction, profusely thanked his wife Susan for her unwavering support.

“She introduced me to a hostile rescue pet and nursed me back to life,” he acknowledged.

Nolan’s thought-provoking interpretation of the man he refers to as “the most important person who ever lived” also garnered accolades for editing, cinematography, and best original score.

It is fitting that a film about the development of nuclear weapons would be recognized on a night so steeped in the specter of war.

“We made a film about the man who created the atomic bomb. And for better or worse, we are all living in Oppenheimer’s world. I would like to dedicate this award to the peacemakers around the globe,” Murphy stated as he accepted his award.

The winners of the night: (L-R) Robert Downey Jr (‘Oppenheimer’), Da’Vine Joy Randolph (‘The Holdovers’), Emma Stone (‘Poor Things’), and Cillian Murphy (‘Oppenheimer’). Photo: AFP

He’s just Ken

The other major hit of 2023, Greta Gerwig’s feminist blockbuster “Barbie,” made its presence felt throughout the ceremony in Los Angeles.

Although the movie, which grossed $1.4 billion at the box office, only took home one Oscar for best original song, the excitement it generated was palpable all evening.

Supporting actor nominee Ryan Gosling brought the house down with a star-studded rendition of “I’m just Ken,” accompanied by Guns ‘n Roses guitarist Slash and some of his fellow Ken co-stars like Simu Liu and Ncuti Gatwa.

The performance transformed into a lively karaoke session as Gosling passed the microphone around to various A-list guests.

Ryan Gosling’s electrifying performance of ‘I’m Just Ken’ from ‘Barbie,’ accompanied by a plethora of dancers, became the highlight of the night. Photo: AFP

Billie Eilish’s “What Was I Made For?” emerged as the winning song from the summer blockbuster film.

The 22-year-old artist, who delivered a heartfelt rendition of the thought-provoking song, now boasts two Oscars to her name, having previously won for the James Bond theme “No Time To Die” two years ago, co-written with her brother and frequent collaborator Finneas O’Connell.

Four wins for ‘Poor Things’

In one of the few competitive categories, Emma Stone was awarded best actress for her daring performance in the surreal and Frankenstein-inspired “Poor Things,” which also secured three other technical prizes.

Emma Stone won the Oscar for best actress in one of the closest races of the night. Photo: AFP

Stone emerged victorious against Lily Gladstone, who would have become the first Native American actress to win an Oscar for her role in Martin Scorsese’s crime saga “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

In her acceptance speech, Stone paid tribute to the other actresses nominated in her category, as well as to the five women who presented the award.

Stone also prevailed over Sandra Hueller from the sleeper hit “Anatomy of a Fall.”

Despite not winning the award for best picture, the French courtroom thriller did not leave empty-handed, as it secured the award for best original screenplay.

Co-writer Justine Triet revealed backstage that the song by 50 Cent, which played a vital role in the film, was originally intended to be performed by Dolly Parton.

“But they declined to grant us the rights,” she explained to reporters.

In addition to the legacy of “Oppenheimer,” there were several other reminders of the ravages of human conflict.
The United Kingdom earned its maiden best international film Oscar with the Auschwitz drama “The Zone of Interest,” which also won for best sound.

Several nominees sported lapel pins calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip, while sporadic protests broke out near the event’s security perimeter.

References were also made to the war in Ukraine, with the award for best documentary going to “20 Days in Mariupol,” and a brief tribute was paid to Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny, the subject of last year’s Oscar-winning documentary.