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Six takeaways from the Oscar nominations

By AFP - Jan 24,2024 - Last updated at Jan 24,2024

US-German actress Zazie Beetz and US actor Jack Quaid announce the nominees for Original Screenplay during the 96th Academy Awards nominations announcement at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, California, on Tuesday (AFP photo)

PARK CITY, United States — Nominations for the 96th Academy Awards were unveiled on Tuesday, with Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” leading the way on 13 nods.

Here are six key takeaways from the Oscars announcement:


Unstoppable ‘Oppenheimer’? 


It has, by the account of many pundits, been a remarkably strong year for film, with 2023 easily offering the most packed lineup of commercial and critical hits since before the pandemic.

That strength makes the seemingly unstoppable awards success of Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” all the more impressive.

The film earned rave reviews on its release last summer, and ranked third at the global box office with $950 million — behind only “Barbie” and “The Super Mario Bros. Movie”.

The three-hour historical drama has since swept every major best picture award going, including at the Golden Globes (best drama) and the Critics Choice Awards.

And its haul of 13 Oscar nominations is only one shy of the all-time record for a film, held jointly by “All About Eve”, “Titanic” and “La La Land”.

Can anything now stop the “Oppenheimer” juggernaut on March 10?


‘Barbie’ surprises 


“Barbie”, last year’s highest grossing film, had been widely expected to secure an Oscar nomination for its female star.

But it was America Ferrera, not Margot Robbie, whose name was read out on Tuesday morning.

Ferrera, a Latina actress of Honduran ancestry, was previously best known for television comedy “Ugly Betty”.

But her emotional turn as a regular mom in “Barbie”, which included a powerful monologue on the impossible double standards of being a woman, clearly caught Academy voters’ attention.


Female directors 


Another “snub” for the film came as Greta Gerwig missed out on a best director nomination, four years after she was controversially overlooked for her adaptation of “Little Women”.

But there was solace for Gerwig as the movie landed a best picture nomination, making her one of three female directors with a film in the key category for the first time in Oscars history.

And Gerwig’s presumed slot was taken by another woman — France’s Justine Triet, who becomes only the eighth female ever to be nominated for best director by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.


Hollywood vintage 


Hollywood veterans Martin Scorsese and John Williams added to their impressive Oscar nominations hauls on Tuesday — and broke a couple of records in the process.

Scorsese, 81, became the oldest person ever nominated for best director.

The nod for his critically adored epic drama nominee “Killers of the Flower Moon” is his 10th in the category.

That puts him just two behind record-holder William Wyler — and Scorsese is already working on his next project.

Meanwhile, composer Williams racked up an astonishing 54th nomination, for his score to “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny”.

He has the most nominations for any living person, and is only second overall to Walt Disney.

“He is also, to the best of our knowledge, the oldest nominee in a competitive award category at 91 years of age,” said the Academy.


Domingo pips DiCaprio 


It had been the subject of intense discussion in Hollywood for weeks.

Could Leonardo DiCaprio, arguably the world’s biggest movie star, already an Oscar winner for “The Revenant”, really miss out on a best actor nod?

After all, he is on screen for nearly two hours in “Killers” — around an hour longer than his nominated co-stars Lily Gladstone and Robert De Niro.

But in a crowded category, the spot that had been expected to fall to DiCaprio went instead to veteran actor Colman Domingo, for “Rustin”.

Domingo, 54, has had a long career on stage and screen, with supporting roles in movies like “Lincoln”, “Selma”, “If Beale Street Could Talk” and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”.


Documentary surprises 


Perhaps no category produced more surprises this year than best documentary.

The field included several big-hitting and starry productions that were presumed by many pundits to be shoo-ins.

These included Apple’s “Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie”, charting the actor’s battle with Parkinson’s disease, and Netflix’s “American Symphony”, which portrays the creative process of Grammy-winning musician Jon Batiste as he supports his wife through cancer.

Neither were picked, although the latter earned a best original song nod.

Instead, the spots went to films on subjects from Ugandan politics (“Bobi Wine: The People’s President”) and the war in Ukraine (“20 Days in Mariupol”) to Alzheimer’s disease (“The Eternal Memory”) and women’s rights (“Four Daughters” and “To Kill a Tiger”).

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