Christopher Nolan couldn’t have had a better season: 30 awards at five top industry events

March 11, 2024
Christopher Nolan is no stranger to winning critical acclaim, but his biopic based on the life of the troubled, unfaithful, Bhagavad Gita-spouting father of the atomic bomb

 Christopher Nolan is no stranger to winning critical acclaim, but his biopic based on the life of the troubled, unfaithful, Bhagavad Gita-spouting father of the atomic bomb, J. Robert Oppenheimer, has earned him more awards more than any other movie he has ever done, including ‘The Dark Knight’, ‘Inception’ and ‘Dunkirk’.

For starters, Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’, after becoming the second highest-grossing R-rated film in Hollywood history after ‘Joker’, notched up 12 Oscar nominations, far more than the eight each of ‘The Dark Knight’, ‘Inception’ and ‘Dunkirk’.

The blockbuster hit ended up with seven Oscars, far less than the 11 each of the Charlton Heston classic, ‘Ben Hur’, ‘Titanic’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’, and even the eight each of ‘Gandhi’ and ‘Slumdog Millionaire’.

But for Nolan, it must come as a big relief to have finally broken his Oscars jinx and going home with the Best Director trophy, thereby reprising his recent wins at the 81st Golden Globe Awards and the 71st British Academy Film Awards, or the BAFTAs, where Cillian Murphy also made history by becoming the first Irish actor to get an award in a leading category (Best Actor).

‘Oppenheimer’ bagged eight trophies at the 29th Critics Choice Awards; got seven at the BAFTAs, a count it equalled at the Oscars; and the five that came its way at the Golden Globes levelled up with the milestone not surpassed since ‘Gandhi’ (1982).

Nolan’s epic therefore won 27 trophies at the four leading events of the awards season. The Best Director award at all these events went to Nolan, like it did at Directors Guild of America. Now, if you add the three Grammys collected by Ludwig Goransson, the Swedish music composer of ‘Oppenheimer’, the film’s trophy count at major awards events rises to 30!

Having made $959 million worldwide against a production budget reported to be $100 million, ‘Oppenheimer’ went on to become the highest-grossing biopic and the third highest-earning film of 2023, after the awards-season-letdown, Greta Gerwig’s ‘Barbie’, and the animated feature based on the Nintendo video game, ‘The Super Mario Bros. Movie’.

The American Film Institute, meanwhile, ranked it as one of the ten top films of 2023, even as it added up 90-plus percentage points on the aggregators Rotten Tomatoes and MetaCritic. A director couldn’t have asked for anything better.

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