Golden Globes under way with big wins for 'Oppenheimer'

The Nolan epic fends off 'Barbie' to bag awards in the best drama film, best director, lead male actor in a drama, and supporting male actor categories

By AFP

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Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas attend the 81st Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California on January 7, 2024. Photo: Reuters
Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas attend the 81st Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California on January 7, 2024. Photo: Reuters

Published: Mon 8 Jan 2024, 8:05 AM

Last updated: Mon 8 Jan 2024, 8:12 AM

"Oppenheimer" picked up multiple key wins at the Golden Globes on Sunday, on a night billed as a celebration of Christopher Nolan's epic and its fellow summer smash hit "Barbie."

Dubbed "Barbenheimer" after they were released on the same weekend and grossed a combined $2.4 billion, the two movies boasted 17 nominations between them at the Globes, which kicked off Hollywood's awards season.

"Oppenheimer" -- which tells the story of the inventor of the atomic bomb, and has eight nods -- took best drama movie, best director for Nolan, as well as acting wins for Cillian Murphy (lead male actor in a drama) and Robert Downey Jr (supporting male actor).

Downey Jr, who plays a powerful politician and bitter adversary opposite Murphy's brilliant scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer, praised the movie as a "masterpiece."

"A sweeping story about the ethical dilemma of nuclear weapons grosses one billion dollars -- does that track? No. Unless and because [the film's studio] Universal went all in on Christopher Nolan to direct," he said.

Nolan won best director, fending off Greta Gerwig, who directed "Barbie," the leading film heading into the night with nine nominations.

"Barbie," which turned nostalgia for the beloved doll into a sharp satire about misogyny and female empowerment, is tipped to win best comedy film, and won the award for best song, for a tune written by Billie Eilish.

As the year's highest grossing movie, it claimed a newly created trophy for box office achievement.

But it surprisingly lost out on best screenplay to French courtroom drama "Anatomy of a Fall."

That film's director and co-writer Justine Triet said she had assumed that "nobody is going to see this movie" about "a couple fighting, suicide, a dog vomiting... I mean, come on!"

"This movie is about the truth, the impossibility of catching it," she added, as it also won best non-English language film.

Among the other winners were Emma Stone as best comedy actress for her no-holds-barred turn in surreal, sexy bildungsroman "Poor Things," and Da'Vine Joy Randolph for her supporting role in prep school comedy "The Holdovers."

Hayao Miyazaki's "The Boy and the Heron" won best animated film.

Bouncing back

After an annus horribilis in which the industry was crippled by strikes, A-listers turned out in force to celebrate Sunday.

Stars who were unable to promote their movies during the months-long Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) walkout used the occasion to make up for lost time on the Oscars campaign trail.

Along with movie stars like Leonardo DiCaprio ("Killers of the Flower Moon"), attendees include big names from the world of music such as Bruce Springsteen and Dua Lipa -- both nominated for best song -- and Taylor Swift representing her recent concert movie.

"The big difference between the Golden Globes and the NFL -- on the Golden Globes, fewer camera shots of Taylor Swift," joked host Jo Koy.

The ongoing hype surrounding "Barbenheimer," even months after the films' releases, is a welcome boon to the new owners of the high-profile but consistently scandal-dogged Golden Globes.

Private investors including US billionaire Todd Boehly purchased the awards after years of controversy and declining audiences, and have invested heavily in resetting a night once billed as "Hollywood's biggest party."

The Globes -- which for decades have offered huge publicity and a timely boost to film hoping to triumph at the season-ending Oscars -- were boycotted by the industry after allegations of corruption and racism rose to the surface in 2021.

The show was taken off air entirely in 2022, and several A-listers skipped last year's edition.

Since then, the rowdy, obscure group of Los Angeles-based foreign journalists that created the Globes 80 years ago has been disbanded, and a wider net of overseas critics was brought in to choose this year's winners.

"Golden Globes journalists, thanks for changing your game," said Downey Jr as he collected his prize.

Big wins

In his opening monologue, host Koy zoomed in on both "Barbie" and "Oppenheimer," joking about the three-hour running time of the latter, which he said he began watching on New Year's Eve.

"I just got one complaint: It needed another hour," he quipped.

"My New Year's resolution for 2024 is to finish 'Oppenheimer' in 2025."

Later in the night, Indigenous actor Lily Gladstone is a firm favorite for lead drama actress for her role in Martin Scorsese's "Killers of the Flower Moon," which had seven nominations overall.

The Globes also honour television, with road-rage saga "Beef" picking up best actor and actress limited series awards for Ali Wong and Steven Yeun.

"Succession," which is expected to dominate the drama categories, took wins for Kieran Culkin as best actor and Matthew Macfadyen as best supporting actor.

"The Bear" is the frontrunner for best comedy, with Jeremy Allen White and Ayo Edebiri winning best actor and actress in the section.

Past Globes host Ricky Gervais, who did not attend, won best stand-up comedy performance, a new category.

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