‘Oppenheimer’ Looks Unstoppable with a Commanding 13 Oscar Nominations

The Hollywood studios are alive and well: They dominated the just-announced Oscar nominations, with Universal’s mighty biopic “Oppenheimer” heading for a Best Picture win with an expected 13 nominations, including Picture, Director, and Adapted Screenplay (Christopher Nolan); Actor (Cillian Murphy), Supporting Actor (Robert Downey Jr.); and Supporting Actress (Emily Blunt). Universal specialty division Focus added five for holiday hit “The Holdovers,” including Actor (Paul Giamatti, his second nomination) and Supporting Actress (Da’Vine Joy Randolph, her first), for a studio total of 18.

Disney delivered a total 20, including Searchlight’s “Poor Things” (11), led by Best Actress frontrunner, Oscar-winner Emma Stone (“La La Land”) and Supporting Actor (Mark Ruffalo, his fourth nomination) and animated entry “Elemental.” And Warner Bros.’ “Barbie” followed with eight, including expected Supporting Actor (Ryan Gosling, his third nomination) and unexpected Supporting Actress (America Ferrera, her first) and two nods for Best Song.

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Avatar: The Last Airbender. Daniel Dae Kim as Ozai in season 1 of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2024

However, “Barbie” lost a few key nominations, including actress Margot Robbie (who did score her first Best Picture nomination as producer) and DGA nominee Greta Gerwig for Director, who boasts the distinction of landing her first three films as director in Best Picture (“Lady Bird,” “Little Women,” and “Barbie”). Tellingly, “Anatomy of a Fall” landed an editing slot; “Barbie” did not.

Billion dollar box office is not always a boon with Oscar voters who, despite recent Academy diversification efforts, are still largely male, and may not grant “Barbie” major gravitas despite its feminist themes.

“Anatomy of a Fall” director Justine Triet took Gerwig’s slot. A24 and Neon each earned seven nominations and landed in the Best Picture race: A24’s “Past Lives” scored two and “The Zone of Interest” five, while Neon’s courtroom drama “Anatomy of a Fall” also landed five nominations including Actress (Sandra Hüller, her first) and Original Screenplay (Triet and Arthur Harari), plus “Perfect Days” and surprise animation entry “Robot Dreams.”

Director nominee Jonathan Glazer’s “The Zone of Interest” is expected to win Best International Feature; France is regretting not submitting “Anatomy of a Fall” in that category, as “The Taste of Things” (IFC) did not make the final five.

CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 27: Justine Triet poses with The Palme D'Or Award for 'Anatomy of a Fall' during the Palme D'Or winners photocall at the 76th annual Cannes film festival at Palais des Festivals on May 27, 2023 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
Justine Triet at CannesCorbis via Getty Images

Netflix led the streamers with a strong showing: 18 nominations, including multi-tasker Bradley Cooper’s “Maestro” (seven), including Actor (Cooper’s fifth acting nomination), Original Screenplay (Cooper and “Spotlight” Oscar-winner Josh Singer), and Actress (Carey Mulligan’s third); “Nyad” Best Actress (a fifth nomination for Annette Bening) and Supporting Actress (Oscar-winner Jodie Foster, “The Accused,” “The Silence of the Lambs”), “Rustin” Best Actor (first-timer Colman Domingo), Wes Anderson short “The Wonderful Life of Henry Sugar,” and International Feature and Makeup & Hair nominee “Society of the Snow” (which Netflix had hoped would cut a wider swath like last year’s “All Quiet on the Western Front”).

Jon Batiste documentary “American Symphony” had to settle for a Song nomination, as one-time Oscar nominee Matt Heineman (“Cartel Land”) was shut out of Best Documentary. Todd Haynes’ critics’ fave “May December” missed acting slots but earned an Original Screenplay nod for first-time nominees Samy Burch and Alex Mechanik.

Apple Original Films racked up 13 nominations; Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” scored 10, but missed Best Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Scorsese and Eric Roth), which could signal wavering support. Lily Gladstone marks the first indigenous woman of American descent to be nominated, and Robert De Niro made it, along with revered editor Thelma Schoonmaker, among six craft nods.

Scorsese’s directing nomination is his 10th: he has scored 16 overall, including producer and screenwriter. And Oscar-winner De Niro (“The Godfather Part II” and “Raging Bull”) has now landed a total nine nominations, including acting in Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver” and “Cape Fear” and producing “The Irishman.” Adding to Apple’s total: three craft nods for Ridley Scott’s bio-epic “Napoleon.”

Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro at 2023 Cannes
Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro at 2023 CannesMondadori Portfolio via Getty

Orion Pictures/Amazon MGM Studios claimed five nominations for “American Fiction,” including Picture, Actor (Jeffrey Wright), Supporting Actor (Sterling K. Brown), Adapted Screenplay (director Cord Jefferson), and Original Score, a sign of strength for the Toronto People’s Choice winner.

Phase Two Oscar campaigns begin now. Almost 11,000 active Academy members are eligible to vote for the winners in all 23 categories beginning Thursday, February 22, through Tuesday, February 27.

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