‘Oppenheimer’: Big Oscar Noms Mark a First for Christopher Nolan

Oppenheimer was one of the surprising success stories of the summer box office, and now Christopher Nolan’s World War II-era biopic has landed 13 Oscar nominations, more than any other film this year.

Notably, it marks Nolan’s first time landing both directing and writing nominations for one of his films, and it is also Nolan’s most nominated film ever. (2008’s The Dark Knight, 2010’s Inception and 2017’s Dunkirk each received eight.)

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Oppenheimer is nominated for best picture (for producers Nolan, Emma Thomas and Charles Roven), while Nolan is in contention for the adapted screenplay. (He adapted the script from the 2005 J. Robert Oppenheimer biography American Prometheus, by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin.)

The film also landed noms for actor (Cillian Murphy), supporting actor (Robert Downey Jr.), supporting actress (Emily Blunt), cinematography (Hoyte van Hoytema), costume design (Ellen Mirojnick), makeup and hairstyling (Luisa Abel), original score (Ludwig Göransson), production design (production design: Ruth De Jong; set decoration: Claire Kaufman), editing (Jennifer Lame) and sound (Willie Burton, Richard King, Gary A. Rizzo and Kevin O’Connell)

Oppenheimer marks a career high for Nolan, a filmmaker who has generated billions at the box office with franchise films (The Dark Knight Trilogy), original concepts (Inception, Interstellar) and a war epic (Dunkirk). But Oppenheimer posed a unique challenge, with the three-hour, R-rated biopic containing virtually no action, yet still managing to play like a thriller. The film stands as Nolan’s third-highest-grossing movie of all time with $952.8 million globally, trailing just The Dark Knight Rises (2012) and The Dark Knight (2008).

Nolan’s films are regularly nominated for Oscars, but the filmmaker has surprisingly not been recognized on an individual level all that often. He earned writing noms for Memento (2001) and Inception and a directing nom for Dunkirk. And as a producer he was among those nominated for best picture for Inception and Dunkirk. He has yet to win an Oscar, though.

Earlier this month at the Golden Globes, where Nolan took home multiple honors, his longtime producing partner and wife Thomas alluded to Nolan not getting as much individual awards recognition, historically. “I’m so pleased that Chris has been acknowledged, because I think what he does is unlike anything anyone else is doing,” Thomas said. “Chris sort of brings the best out of people by being the very best himself.”

As for the Oscars, this year’s ceremony takes place March 10, and will air on ABC.

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