regular-article-logo Saturday, 15 June 2024

96th Academy Awards had Oppenheimer winning big, and had two ‘ken’-ines taking over the show

There was also one major upset, t2 picks the top moments from the evening that played out at Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles

Priyanka Roy  Published 12.03.24, 07:43 AM
(L-R) Actor Al Pacino with Oppenheimer director Christopher Nolan, his producing partner and wife Emma Thomas and co-producer Charles Roven

(L-R) Actor Al Pacino with Oppenheimer director Christopher Nolan, his producing partner and wife Emma Thomas and co-producer Charles Roven


Oscars 2024 witnessed Christopher Nolan’s epic saga Oppenheimer walk away with seven golden statuettes, including the big three for Best Picture, Best Directing (Nolan) and Best Actor (Cillian Murphy). Robert Downey Jr scored his first Oscar, winning in the Best Supporting Actor category for playing the diabolical Lewis Strauss in the film. Other big wins for the film — an intimate look at a world-changing phenomenon that snagged 13 nominations — included Best Cinematography for frequent Nolan collaborator Hoyte van Hoytema, Best Editing for Jennifer Lame and Best Original Score for Ludwig Goransson.

Oppenheimer stars Cillian Murphy and Robert Downey Jr with their golden statuettes

Oppenheimer stars Cillian Murphy and Robert Downey Jr with their golden statuettes

While Cillian Murphy, winning his first Academy Award, dedicated his win to “the peacemakers all around the world”, Robert Downey Jr did a Robert Downey Jr with a speech that was both humorous and heartfelt. “I’d like to thank my terrible childhood and the Academy — in that order. I want to thank my veterinarian — I meant wife — Susan Downey over there. She found me, a snarling rescue pet, and loved me back to life. That’s why I am here!” He also confessed: “I needed this job (Oppenheimer) more than it needed me.”

Oppenheimer stars Cillian Murphy and Robert Downey Jr with their golden statuettes

Oppenheimer stars Cillian Murphy and Robert Downey Jr with their golden statuettes


Hosting for the fourth time, talk show host Jimmy Kimmel delivered a largely entertaining opening monologue, occasionally letting it rip. Like when he lambasted the cheering audience for not nominating Greta Gerwig in the Best Directing category for Barbie. “Don’t act like you had nothing to do with this,” he quipped. Kimmel also had Robert Downey Jr as his “target”, saying that the actor is currently at his “highest point”, or “one of his highest points”, which was an obvious reference to Iron Man’s history of drug abuse.

Kimmel also acknowledged the Hollywood SAG-AFTRA strikes of last year by saying: “This long and difficult work stoppage taught us that this very strange town of ours — as pretentious and superficial as it can be — at its heart is a union town. It’s not just a bunch of heavily Botoxed, Hailey Bieber-smoothie drinking, diabetes prescription abusing, gluten-sensitive nepo babies with perpetually shivering chihuahuas. This is a coalition of strong, hardworking mentally tough American labourers: women and men who would 100 per cent for sure die if we even had to touch the handle of a shovel. But the reason we were able to make a deal is because of the people who rallied beside us. So, before we celebrate ourselves, let’s have a very well-deserved round of applause for the people who work behind the scenes.” Kimmel then brought out those working behind the scenes of this year’s Oscars as the audience gave them a standing ovation.

But it was towards the end that Kimmel came into his element, courtesy of a post by former US President Donald Trump on the social media platform Truth Social, that read: “Has there EVER been a WORSE HOST than Jimmy Kimmel at The Oscars?” Kimmel made a comeback with: “Isn’t it past your jail time?” That made the Dolby Theatre audience roar — and how!


Ryan Gosling pulled off the performance of the evening, bringing in all his Ken-energy to the rendition of his Barbie hit I’m Just Ken. Amid an explosion of pink sequins and rhinestones, Gosling sported Barbie-inspired sunglasses and was at the centre of a rip-roaring act that featured backup dancers including his Barbie costars Simu Liu and Ben Kingsley-Adair, who all played versions of Ken in the film.

Ryan Gosling brought the house down with the performance of his Barbie hit I'm Just Ken

Ryan Gosling brought the house down with the performance of his Barbie hit I'm Just Ken

While the Internet was quick to draw parallels between Gosling’s performance and that of a certain Marilyn Monroe in the iconic Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend number in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, the big surprise of the act was the appearance of legendary Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash, who composed the guitar instrumentation on the song, for a rollicking guitar solo.


The other Ken-ine highlight of the evening was the presence of Messi in the audience, the dog in Anatomy of a Fall, who is fast becoming an Internet sensation. The canine star, smart in a bowtie and plonked on his own seat in the audience, put paid to all rumours that he wasn’t making it to Hollywood’s biggest night. Messi, who played the all-important character of Snoop in the Justine Triet-directed film, even made it to Kimmel’s opening monologue. “Messi, even though he’s a dog, may have given the performance of the year in Anatomy of a Fall,” said Kimmel, adding cheekily: “Messi has an overdose scene, if you’ve seen it you’ve known it. It’s incredible. Honestly, I haven’t seen a French actor eat his own vomit like that since Gerard Depardieu.”

Messi is the newest Internet sensation and the star of the evening

Messi is the newest Internet sensation and the star of the evening

The big moment? After the credits for the Oscars rolled out, cameras panned to show the Border collie relieving itself on Matt Damon’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and making a run for it! Was that orchestrated by Damon’s longtime “enemy” Kimmel? The jury is still out on that one!


Lily Gladstone was prevented from making Oscars history by Emma Stone who caused an upset Best Actress win for Poor Things. Visibly shocked, Stone — who won a Best Actress Oscar for La La Land a few years ago — tottered up to the stage, profusely apologising for the broken zipper of her dress.

Even though there was an obvious opening in the back of her custom mint-green Louis Vuitton peplum gown, the two-time Academy Award-winner took the snafu in her stride. The first words out of Stone’s mouth when she took the stage to accept the award for Best Actress were: “My dress is broken and I think it happened during I’m Just Ken.” Her emotional speech won hearts and also scored huge points with Swifties around the world when she ended it with: “And, most importantly, my daughter, who’s gonna be three in three days and has turned our lives technicolour. I love you bigger than the whole sky, my girl.” The last line is an interpolation of a lyric from Taylor Swift’s song Bigger Than the Whole Sky, as featured on the album Midnights. Stone and Swift are known to be friends in real life, having met when they were both teenagers.


John Cena brought some much-needed spice to the rather staid proceedings by making an entrance on stage — in the buff! With nothing but a strategically placed placard with the words ‘Costume Design’ on it, the wrestler-turned-actor appeared on cue when Kimmel asked the audience: “Can you imagine if a nude man ran across the stage today? I said, can you imagine if a nude man ran across the stage today? Wouldn’t that be crazy?”

John Cena doing (almost) a full monty!

John Cena doing (almost) a full monty!

Cena came in but said: “I changed my mind. I don’t want to do the streaker bit. I just don’t feel right about it. It’s an elegant event, you know, you should feel shame right now for suggesting such a tasteless joke,” which invited huge hoots and whistles.


In awarding the four main acting categories, the Academy refreshed the format, making past winners gather on stage to present a few lines on each nominee in each category. That witnessed a rush of A-listers on stage, and it was quite a moment to see Jessica Lange trying to help Emma Stone with her wardrobe malfunction.

Al Pacino, however, is a man who believes in cutting to the chase. The 83-year-old, walking in to the memorable theme music of The Godfather, wasted no time introducing any of the 10 nominees for Best Picture and swiftly opened the envelope to call on gang Oppenheimer to collect the biggest award of the night.


Barbie may not have found much favour, but Billie Eilish scripted history, becoming the youngest-ever recipient of two Oscars, winning her latest on Sunday night for What Was I Made For? from the film. “I feel so incredibly lucky and honoured,” said a visibly emotional Eilish on stage. “This goes out to everyone who was affected by the movie and how incredible it is,” said the singer, who shared the award with her brother Finneas O’Connell. The brother-sister team had won an Oscar Best Original Song in 2021 for No Time to Die.

Earlier, Eilish, along with a few other noted names like actor and Oscar nominee Mark Ruffalo, arrested attention on the red carpet by wearing pins that called for a ceasefire in Gaza.


One of the most powerful moments of the evening belonged to the team of 20 Days in Mariupol that won in the category of Best Documentary Feature. Mstyslav Chernov, who documented Russia’s attack on the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, gave a powerful speech, starting it with: “I am probably the only winner on this stage who wishes they had never made this film. He continued: “I wish I could exchange this for Russia never attacking Ukraine, never occupying our cities.” The film, the first from Ukraine to win an Oscar, was made from news dispatches and personal footage taken while Chernov and his colleagues were trapped in the besieged city.

“I wish for them to release all the hostages, all the soldiers who are protecting their lands, all the civilians who are now in their jails,” Chernov continued. “But I cannot change the history. I cannot change the past. But we all together — among you are some of the most talented people in the world — we can make sure that the history record is set straight and that the truth will prevail. And the people of Mariupol and those who have given their lives will never be forgotten. Cinema forms memories and memories form history.”

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