Oscars 2024: Oppenheimer takes best film as Al Pacino makes slip-up

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Oppenheimer has swept this year’s Oscars, winning seven gongs, including best actor, best director and best picture.

The top prize of the night was presented by The Godfather star Al Pacino – who seemed to jump the gun by announcing the winner before listing the nominees.

Robert Downey Jr. Pic. Reuters
Image:
Robert Downey Jr. Pic. Reuters

The movie had been widely expected to rule the night, and didn’t disappoint, possibly leading the 83-year-old actor to speed up the whole announcement process, peeping into the envelope and declaring “I see Oppenheimer”.

While not in the league of the great La La Land / Moonlight mix up of 2017 (when Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty announced that La La Land had taken best picture when in fact it was Moonlight), it certainly added a final frisson to the evening, even allowing it to wrap a few minutes early, rather than running late which is somewhat of an Academy Award tradition.

Director Christopher Nolan – one of Britain’s most commercially successful filmmakers – won his first Oscar for his three-hour epic about J Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the atomic bomb.

He thanked his wife and producer of the film, Emma Thomas, along with its lead actor Cillian Murphy, adding, “Thank you for those who have been there for me and believed in me my whole career.”

Emma Stone. Pic: AP
Image:
Emma Stone. Pic: AP

All four of the acting prizes were presented in a new way – by five former winners of each prize.

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Best actor, which was presented by stars including Matthew Mcconaughey, Nicolas Cage and Brendan Fraser, was won by Oppenheimer star Murphy, who called himself “a very proud Irishman” and dedicated his prize “to the peacemakers everywhere”.

The 47-year-old star kissed his wife before heading to the stage, where Murphy told producers Nolan and Emma Thomas that making the film had “been the wildest, most creatively satisfying journey”.

He ended his speech by speaking in Irish, saying “Go Raibh Maith Agat” which means thank you.

Best actress – presented by performers including Charlize Theron, Sally Field, Jessica Lange and Jennifer Lawrence – went to Emma Stone for her performance as Bella Baxter in Poor Things.

Announcing breathlessly as she entered the stage, “my dress is broken… I think it happened during I’m Just Ken!” Stone said the win felt “overwhelming”.

She said she had been previously “panicking” about “something like this happening,” but was advised by the film’s director Yorgos Lanthimos to “take herself out of it”.

She also paid tribute to her daughter Louise Jean, who she said would be three-years-old in a few days, saying she loved her “more than the whole sky”.

The first prize of the night went to Da’vine Joy Randolph, who won best supporting actress – a win that had been widely considered to be locked in thanks to Randolph’s earlier wins across the awards season.

Da'Vine Joy Randolph. Pic: Reuters
Image:
Da’Vine Joy Randolph. Pic: Reuters

It was presented by actresses including Jamie Lee Curtis, Lupita Nyong’o, Rita Monero and Regina King.

Nyong’o was tasked with summing up Randolph’s performance in The Holdovers, revealing that she wore her grandmother’s glasses in the film and saying: “What an honour to see the world though your eyes and hers,” which drew a tear from the actress in the audience.

Accepting her prize, Randolph said: “God is so good. I didn’t think I was supposed to do this as a career.”

She went on: “For so long I thought I needed to be different, and I’ve realised I just needed to be myself.”

She also talked about “being the only black girl in the class,” and being forced to forge her own path, before giving a shout out to her publicist as one in a million – but forgetting to mention their name.

The best supporting actor prize was given out by actors including Ke Huy Quan, Sam Rockwell and Mahershala Ali.

Robert Downey Jr. Pic. Reuters
Image:
Robert Downey Jr. Pic. Reuters

Marking the first prize of the night for Oppenheimer, the gong went to Robert Downey Jr who joked: “I’d like to thank my terrible childhood and the Academy, in that order.”

He went on to pay tribute to his wife, Susan Downey, saying: “I’d like to thank my veterinarian, I mean my wife, she found me a snarling rescue (pet and) you loved me back to life. That is why I’m here.” He also gave a shout out to his lawyer and stylist too.

On a more serious note, the first time Oscar-winner said: “What we do is meaningful, and the stuff we decide to make is important”.

It’s been quite the year for the 58-year-old star, whose had a clean sweep of wins this award season, having previously won at the BAFTAs, Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild and Critics’ Choice awards.

Achievement in cinematography, which was presented by singer and actress Zendaya, also went to Oppenheimer.

Poor Things took four prizes in total, as well as best actress for Stone, it took three on the trot earlier in the night – best production design, best make-up and hairstyling and best costume design.

In a night with plenty of comedy moments, the costume prize was announced with a skit referencing the 1974 Oscars which infamously saw a naked streaker run across the stage.

Wrestler John Cena was tasked with handing out the gong seemingly naked -except for the envelope containing the winner’s name. He went on to be wrapped in a curtain before handing over the prize, to preserve his modesty.

Best original screenplay went to French film Anatomy Of A Fall, with director and co-writer Justine Triet joking that it would help her through her “mid-life crisis”.

She said she and husband Arthur Harari came up with the idea for the film when they were stuck in the house during the pandemic and changing their children’s nappies.

(L-R): John Cena and costume design to Holly Waddington. Pic: AP
Image:
(L-R): John Cena and costume design to Holly Waddington. Pic: AP

Best adapted screenplay went to American Fiction, a film about a Black author satirizing offensive tropes of Black entertainment in his book, and finding to his immense irritation that it’s a hit with the publishers.

Accepting the prize, writer and director Cord Jefferson thanked his collaborators on the film for “trusting a 40-year-old black guy who’d never directed anything before,” and gave a shout out to the next generation of writer and directors out there sriving to bring their work to the screen.

Actors Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt paired up to pay tribute to the stunt people in showbiz, with the pair enacting a mock-squabble which saw Gosling criticise Oppenheimer for “riding on the coat tails of Barbie all summer,” and Blunt accuse Gosling of “drawing on his six pack”. Their jokes were warmly received by the audience.

English film The Zone Of Interest, directed and written by Jonathan Glazer, took best international film.

Referencing the themes of his unsettling holocaust drama, Glazer said: “Our film shows where dehumanization leads, at its worst.”

He went on: “Right now, we stand here as men who refute their Jewishness and the Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation which has led to conflict for so many innocent people.

“Whether the victims of October the seventh in Israel, or the ongoing attack on Gaza, all the victims, this humanization, how do we resist?”

His comments drew a round of applause from the audience, and tears from his leading actress, Sandra Huller.

Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt. Pic: Reuters
Image:
Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt. Pic: Reuters

The visual effects prize – presented by odd couple Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito, the stars of comedy films Twins and Junior – went to Japanese epic Godzilla Minus One.

Created by Takashi Yamazaki – who also oversaw the visual effects – it was a seeming underdog in the category thanks to its small team (35-peope) and comparatively small budget ($12m). They brought two mini-reptilian monsters on stage to accept their prize.

Schwarzenegger and DeVito also gave out the best editor prize, which went to Oppenheimer.

The Boy And The Heron, written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, took best animated feature film.

Best live action short film went to The Wonderful Story Of Henry Sugar, directed by Wes Anderson.

A short film inspired by the music of John and Ono Lennon – War Is Over! – took best animated short film, with Lennon’s son Sean who was an executive producer on the show part of the team accepting the prize.

Stepping up to the microphone, Sean said: “My mother turned 91 today, and it’s Mother’s Day today in the UK, so could everyone just say ‘Happy Mother’s Day Yoko'”.

Best documentary short film went to The Last Repair Shop, a film celebrating music education in public schools across America.

Best documentary feature went to 20 Days in Mariupol, which harrowingly documents the early days of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Accepting the prize, the film’s director Mstyslav Chernov spoke movingly, saying: “This is the first Oscar in Ukrainian history. And I’m honored. Probably I will be the first director on this stage to say I wish I’d never made this film. I wish to be able to exchange this [for] Russia never attacking Ukraine.”

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During the night, many ceremony attendees wore red lapel pins from Artists4Ceasefire, calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. Outside of the ceremony around 300-500 pro-Palestinian protesters made their way down Sunset Boulevard shouting “ceasefire now” and “free Palestine” ahead of the show.

The In Memoriam section of the night – which included a tribute to Friends star Matthew Perry – was accompanied by a rendition of Time To Say goodbye by opera singer Andrea Bocelli and his son Matteo.

There were live performances on the night from all five nominated acts in the best song category – Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas got a standing ovation after singing What Was I Made For, the first performance of the evening.

There were also performances from Becky G, singing Diane Warren’s The Fire Inside, from Flamin’ Hot, Jon Batiste singing It Never Went Away from American Symphony, and Scott George’s Wahzhazhe (A Song for My People) from Killers Of The Flower Moon.

Ryan Gosling performs "I'm Just Ken"
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Ryan Gosling performing I’m Just Ken. Pic. AP

But the performance of the night was from Barbie star Ryan Gosling, who sang power ballad I’m Just Ken with ten backing dancers, accompanying giant Barbie cardboard cutout heads and a surprise cameo from Guns And Roses guitarist Slash.

Starting out his performance from his seat in the audience, Gosling paraded onto the stage, dressed in a hot pink suit, matching gloves and absolutely nailed his performance to the delight of the audience.

After all the renditions, the original score was presented by Wicked stars Ariana Grande and Cynthia Erivo, and going to Oppenheimer.

Grande and Erivo followed up with another musical award, best original song, which went to Billie Eillish for What Was I Made For. It was he only win of the night for Barbie, which despite ruling in the battle of the box office, has had limited success across awards season.

Accepting her second Oscar aged just 22, Eilish said: “I had a nightmare about this last night!” She thanked the film’s director Greta Gerwig, while her brother Finneas thanked Margot, and they both thanked their parents.

Eilish also thanked her “best friend Zoe, for playing Barbie’s with me when I was little”.

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