Oppenheimer triumphs at 2024 BAFTA Film Awards

An epic about the making of the atomic bomb wins seven prizes, including best picture, director and actor.

Christopher Nolan, winner of the awards for Director and Best Film for "Oppenheimer", poses in the winners' room during the 2024 British Academy of Film and Television Awards (BAFTA) at the Royal Festival Hall in the Southbank Centre, London.
Christopher Nolan, winner of the awards for director and best film for Oppenheimer, poses in the winners' room during the 2024 British Academy of Film and Television Awards (BAFTA) in London, Britain, February 18, 2024 [Hollie Adams/Reuters]

Oppenheimer, a three-hour epic about the creation of the atomic bomb during World War II, has swept the board at the 77th British Academy Film Awards, winning seven prizes including the top honours for best film, best director and best actor.

The wins on Sunday cement the film’s frontrunner status for the Oscars next month.

British-born filmmaker Christopher Nolan, who directed Oppenheimer, won his first best director BAFTA award for the film, while Irish performer Cillian Murphy won the best actor prize for playing physicist J Robert Oppenheimer, the so-called father of the atomic bomb.

In his acceptance speech, Nolan thanked his cast and crew and the film’s backers for “taking on something dark”.

“In the real world there are all kinds of individuals and organisations who have fought long and hard to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the world… in accepting this I do want to acknowledge their efforts,” he added.

Like Nolan, Murphy had been the favourite to win his category and in his acceptance speech, said he was grateful to play such a “colossally knotty, complex character”.

It was also a good night for the surreal dark comedy Poor Things, which won five awards including best actress for Emma Stone. In the film, Stone plays a Victorian reanimated corpse brought back to life with the spirit of a child by a mad scientist in a female Frankenstein story.

She beat off competition from Barbie star Margot Robbie.

Barbie by Greta Gerwig, which turned nostalgia for the beloved doll into a sharp satire about misogyny and female empowerment, has so far failed to capture the number of top prizes expected this awards season.

The Zone of Interest, a British-produced film shot in Poland with a largely German cast, was named both best British film and best film not in English. It also took home the prize for best sound.

The Holocaust drama takes place in a family home just outside the walls of the Auschwitz concentration camp, whose horrors are heard and hinted at, rather than seen.

“Walls aren’t new from before or since the Holocaust, and it seems stark right now that we should care about innocent people being killed in Gaza or Yemen or Mariupol or Israel,” producer James Wilson said.

“Thank you for recognising a film that asks us to think in those spaces.”

Separately, courtroom drama Anatomy of a Fall won original screenplay, while comedy drama American Fiction took home the award for best adapted screenplay.

Best documentary went to 20 Days in Mariupol, the journalist Mstyslav Chernov’s personal account of the siege of the Ukrainian city in 2022, and best animated film went to The Boy and the Heron by celebrated Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies