Reviews: 'Oppenheimer,' 'Barbie,' other Oscars 2024 nominees

Kristofer Purnell - Philstar.com
Reviews: 'Oppenheimer,' 'Barbie,' other Oscars 2024 nominees
Composite image of Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling in "Barbie" and Cillian Murphy in "Oppenheimer"
Warner Bros., Universal

MANILA, Philippines — The nominees for the 2024 Academy Awards have been unveiled, led by Christopher Nolan's "Oppenheimer," a film about the titular father of the atomic bomb.

Following "Oppenheimer" were "Poor Things," starring Emma Stone, and Martin Scorsese's crime epic "Killers of the Flower Moon."

"Barbie," "Maestro," "American Fiction," "The Holdovers," "Anatomy of a Fall," "The Zone of Interest" and "Past Lives" round up the nominees for Best Picture.

Several of these films and other movies nominated at the Oscars have screened in the Philippines throughout 2023, if not via streaming platforms like Netflix (which banners "Maestro").

Related: 'Oppenheimer' leads Oscars 2024 nominees with 13

Here is a compilation of Philstar.com's reviews for some of this year's Oscar nominees:

"Oppenheimer" - 13 nominations

Nolan's film about J. Robert Oppenheimer is the most-nominated film of this year's Academy Awards, up for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay for Nolan, and Best Actor for Cillian Murphy as the titular character.

The movie's other nominations are Best Supporting Actor for Robert Downey Jr., Best Supporting Actress for Emily Blunt, Best Original Score, Best Sound, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, and Best Makeup and Hairstyling.

The director's creative choices work so splendidly on a physical level that they blend into the film's themes of a man dealing with the results of his consquences, often to the destruction of one life and thousands others.

The film's three-hour runtime could drain some viewers, but Nolan and his team did everything to make every minute count, especially as Oppenheimer — the film and the character — slowly unravels.

"Killers of the Flower Moon" - 10 nominations

With his latest Best Director nomination, Scorsese is now the most-nominated living director at the Oscars, surpassing colleague Steven Spielberg.

"Killers of the Flower Moon" circles around the mysterious murders of Osage Nation members in Oklahoma shortly after oil was discovered on the land tribes settled on.

Apart from Best Picture and Best Director, the film is also up for Best Actress for Lily Gladstone (a first for a Native American), Best Supporting Actor for Robert de Niro, Best Original Score (posthumuously for Robbie Robertson), Best Original Song, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Production Design, and Best Costume Design.

Some were surprised that Leonardo DiCaprio missed out on a Best Actor nomination, while more understand why the film couldn't squeak into the competitive Best Adapted Screenplay race.

The film is a sprawling three-and-a-half hour crime-western epic that dives into a bloody chapter of American history, particularly about the country's first inhabitants who were subjected to unfair treatment by the white men in power.

"Barbie" - 8 nominations

Many were shocked to learn that the eight nominations of "Barbie" did not include nominations for Best Director and Best Actress for Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie, respectively.

Robbie is still a Best Picture nominee as a producer while Gerwig is up for Best Adapted Screenplay with her partner Noah Baumbach — an inclusion still contested by many.

The other nominations of "Barbie" are Best Supporting Actor for Ryan Gosling, Best Supporting Actress for America Ferrera (the first-ever nominee of Honduran descent), Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, and two entries in Best Original Song.

"Barbie" is filled with Gerwig's feminist views, Baumbach's curt quips, and a blending that speaks to their writing knowledge — more than enough to become the ideal summer flick it was envisioned to be.

There is no denying that "Barbie" is a fantastic, funny romp that isn't just the pink facade some still see it as. Gerwig triggers the discussions to be talked out in the open so that viewers can understand that Barbie stands to be something more.

"Napoleon" - 3 nominations

Ridley Scott's film "Napoleon" about the former French leader has three nominations in the crafts categories — Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, and Best Visual Effects.

It is no surprise that the best parts of "Napoleon" are the battle sequences, particularly the Siege of Toulon and the Battle of Austerlitz where Napoleon's wartime skills truly shined.

While the fight scenes were fascinating to see, they often blend together because of dullish gray cinematography that hides the well-designed costumes and production.

"Napoleon" is by no means a flop because Scott is attempting a fresh look at such a famous figure who, at one point, was the point of intrigue for the late Stanley Kubrick.

"The Creator" - 2 nominations

Many were confident that Gareth Edwards' "The Creator" would nab a Best Visual Effects nomination, but it went further by also getting a nod for Best Sound.

Substantially lacking as it is, "The Creator" is visually stunning, a huge achievement attributed to the cinematography and production design.

The film is also an audible spectacle, with credits to the sound design team and composer Hans Zimmer.

The visual effects are seamless when it matters, even though the robot design appears to be an earlier version of those seen in "Ex Machina." This is already a feat given the movie's relatively lower budget compared to similar films.

"Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning" - 2 nominations

Tom Cruise's latest venture as Ethan Hunt in the "Mission: Impossible" franchise received nominations for Best Sound and Best Visual Effects.

This is the first time in the franchise's history — which began in 1996 — that it has been nominated at the Academy Awards.

What makes "Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning" so impressive is how it maintains that skillful action magnificence but harkens back to the heart-stopping spy thriller nature of the films past.

Cruise's commitment to doing stunts is also an indication how intricately thought the set-pieces are because while some are a bit similar to past entries and entirely other films, they still manage to be so unique and just as exhilarating.

"The Boy and the Heron" - 1 nomination

Hayao Miyazaki has won the second-ever Best Animated Feature award with "Spirited Away" and received nominations for "Howl's Moving Castle" and "The Wind Rises."

At 83 years old, the Japanese director is back with his newest and most personal film yet, "The Boy and the Heron."

What makes Miyazaki a great storyteller is his ability to convey emotions through animation, trusting that his audiences will understand the the greater scheme of things without the filmmaker forcing his hand.

"The Boy and the Heron" does take a while to get going, but once it does it is nonstop gorgeous images, heart-tugging realizations, and themes that transcend both reality and fantasy.

From the sweeping landscapes of the Japanese countryside, the rushing waters of a world beneath a tower, and beautifully animated flames that mean more as they burn, Miyazaki has poured his heart and soul into these sketches.

"Elemental" - 1 nomination

The Best Animated Feature would just not be complete without an entry from Pixar, and the studio's latest film "Elemental" has made the Oscars cut.

For all the imagination that went into the creation of "Elemental," there still feels something lacking in what the film decides to focus on, namely the lead characters' relationship.

There is nothing wrong at all with bringing together people from different walks of life, though its a trope endlessly seen onscreen, but there is much to explore in a world inhabited by elements.

The static movement of Ember and transparent looks of Wade, appearances that extend to their families, are another step forward for Pixar but again is beginning to lose sight of the creative ingenuity it had in years past.

"Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse" - 1 nomination

Miyazaki and Pixar's quest for more Oscar glory find a tough hurdle in "Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse," whose predecessor won Best Animated Feature in 2018.

A major hook of the original movie was the eye-popping animation that paid homage to the comics that Spider-Man originated from. Audiences can expect the same kind of vision in the sequel, only ramped up to another level.

It becomes clear why this particular had to be delayed because such care and creativity went into perfecting the animation, not just on a visual level but emotionally too.

The sublime score by Daniel Pemberton and a matching soundtrack by Metro Boomin is complemented with crisp sound design; one might forget that this is an animated film by how imaginative it becomes!

"Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" - 1 nomination

Similar to Pixar's predicament, a Marvel film is almost always present in the Best Visual Effects category, and unsurprisingly its the studio's most successful movie of 2023 is the lucky representative.

In a cinematic universe that often bends filmmakers to follow a specific narrative, director James Gunn still manages to sprinkle his personal flair of chaos, creativity, and cleverness all over his Marvel films and that is what makes his trilogy stand out.

Granted the Marvel formula remains present in "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3," Gunn's vision and direction overpowers it by driving the focus back on the characters that Marvel fans have grown to love — a theme now signature to Gunn for praising the misfits.

Scattered throughout the movie, beyond hero shots and blatant exposition, are sequences where Gunn's screenplay shines purely because he understands these characters and how the actors banter so well with one another that it feels so natural.

"Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny" - 1 nomination

Believe it or not, the supposedly last "Indiana Jones" movie is an Oscar-nominated film, thanks to legendary composer John Williams.

With a personal nomination count of 54 (five of which are wins), the 91-year-old Williams is the second-most nominated individual in Oscars history behind Walt Disney (59) and beat his record as the oldest living nominee ever.

With James Mangold at the helm, taking over from Steven Spielberg, "Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny" treats its titular character with respect and gives him the retirement he richly deserves.

Helping remind viewers of the magic of "Indiana Jones" is Williams' score, not just through the iconic "The Raiders March" ringing at the precise moments but even with new musical additions that shows that even at 91, the maestro still has what it takes and hopefully won't retire just yet.

RELATED: 'Oppenheimer,' 'Poor Things' lead Oscars 2024 nominations as 'Barbie' gets snubs

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