Oppenheimer: Will Christopher Nolan's Elitist Narrative Win Him an Oscar?


Oppenheimer is a biographical movie about a brilliant scientist whose invention affects the fate of humanity and shows the intentional damage caused due to the pursuit of self-interest. Its director, Christopher Nolan, who is passionate about and insistent on the elitist storytelling approach, has finally found a suitable production to utilize it. The film depicts the struggles that this noble scientist, who is publicly recognized, faces due to his own great achievements and the unfair treatment he receives from ordinary people. The story is both heroic and tragic, but it is important to note that like most of Nolan's works, the characters of Oppenheimer are not alive, but they are only symbolic figures that carry narrative significance. If you enjoy this type of storytelling, Oppenheimer will be a great movie. Unlike Nolan's previous movies, Oppenheimer uses fewer time and space narrative techniques. A powerful score, Cillian Murphy's intense gaze that breaks the fourth wall, and a moment of silence when the atomic bomb explodes— these are all this three-hour epic has to offer to me.

In the film, Nolan uses the story of Prometheus stealing fire to depict Oppenheimer as a powerful divine figure who overcomes challenges and surpasses himself and all other beings. The film suggests that only elites like Oppenheimer will care about the fate of humanity as a whole, and only they have the power to decide the world's future. The victims of the atomic bomb are reduced to being the backdrop that does not need to be directly shown as Oppenheimer emerges as the new divine figure. His wife and mistress are included to show that he is a human being with desires and that someone has truly witnessed this divine man struggle. Kitty (played by Emily Blunt) tells Oppenheimer, who has had his security clearance revoked by the government, "You think because you let them tar and feather you that the world will forgive you? They won't." No one else other than her is better suited to say that to him.


Precisely because Oppenheimer is so focused on creating a divine figure, we are still unable to identify the actual images of its characters although it features other well-known male actors. Except for Oppenheimer and Lewis Struss (played by Robert Downey Jr.), all other characters are deemed insignificant because the legend of a divine individual focuses only on the person himself, the miracles he has created, and his enemies. Even if I were to see Oppenheimer as a tragedy about the creation of a divine man, its portrayal is not entirely effective since his true enemy will not simply be an ordinary person driven by his own inner darkness, even though the latter may be very powerful.

Some media outlets speculate that Oppenheimer's chances of being nominated for and winning the Oscar have increased significantly after the release of Dune: Part Two was postponed to 2024. Currently, Oppenheimer is considered a strong contender for the Oscars and the entire awards season. The winners of the Oscar’s Best Picture Award in the past 5 years were Everything Everywhere All at Once, CODA, Nomadland, Parasite, and Green Book. These are films with outsider narratives that align with Oscar's diversity reform. Given the Oscars' recent changes, it is unlikely that Oppenheimer, a film that perpetuates elitist storytelling, has a greater chance of winning the Best Picture Award than Nolan's previous films.

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