'Oppenheimer' tops Golden Globes on bittersweet night for 'Barbie'

Emma Stone poses with the award for Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy for ‘Poor Things’ in the press room during the 81st annual Golden Globe Awards. Picture: AFP

Emma Stone poses with the award for Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy for ‘Poor Things’ in the press room during the 81st annual Golden Globe Awards. Picture: AFP

Published Jan 8, 2024


‘Oppenheimer,’ Christopher Nolan's drama about the inventor of the atomic bomb, topped the Golden Globes on Sunday - but its fellow summer smash hit ‘Barbie’ missed out on best comedy film honours to ‘Poor Things.’

‘Oppenheimer’ took five prizes, including best drama, best director for Nolan, best score, as well as acting wins for Cillian Murphy and Robert Downey Jr.

Emma Thomas, the film's producer and Nolan's wife, said her husband's three-hour epic about "one of the darkest developments in our history" is "unlike anything anyone else is doing."

Murphy, who plays brilliant scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer, hailed his "visionary director," while Downey Jr, portraying the protagonist's bitter rival, praised the movie as a "masterpiece."

In winning best director, Nolan fended off Greta Gerwig, who helmed ‘Barbie’ - the other half of the ‘Barbenheimer’ phenomenon that grossed a combined $2.4-billion last year at the box office.

Turning nostalgia for the beloved doll into a sharp satire about misogyny and female empowerment, ‘Barbie"’ was the leading film heading into the night with nine nominations, but ended the gala with just two prizes.

It won the award for best song, for a tune written by Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas. And as the year's highest grossing movie, it claimed a newly created trophy for box office achievement.

"We would like to dedicate this to every single person on the planet who dressed up and went to the greatest place on Earth, the movie theatres," said Margot Robbie, the film's star and producer.

"Thank you to all the Barbies and Kens in front of and behind the screen," added Gerwig.

But ‘Barbie’ surprisingly lost out on best comedy to ‘Poor Things’ - a surreal, sexy bildungsroman which also earned Emma Stone best actress for her no-holds-barred turn as Bella Baxter.

"Bella falls in love with life itself, rather than a person. She accepts the good and the bad in equal measure, and that really made me look at life differently," said Stone.

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, attendees included 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 were boycotted by the industry after allegations of corruption and racism rose to the surface in 2021, and the show was taken off air entirely a year later.

Since then, the controversial 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.

The Globes provide a timely boost for the Oscars. Nominations voting for the Academy Awards begins on Thursday, with the Oscars taking place this year on March 10.

Irish actor Cillian Murphy poses in the press room with the award for Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama for ‘Oppenheimer’ during the 81st annual Golden Globe Awards. Picture: AFP

Indigenous actor Lily Gladstone won best actress in a drama for her role in Martin Scorsese's ‘Killers of the Flower Moon,’ delivering some of her emotional speech in the native language of the Blackfeet Nation.

"This is an historic win, it doesn't belong to just me," she said.

"This is for every little res kid."

Paul Giamatti and Da'Vine Joy Randolph bolstered their Oscars campaigns with wins for ‘The Holdovers,’ in which they starred as a curmudgeonly history teacher and cook of a 1970s prep school, respectively.

Best screenplay and best non-English language film went 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!"

Graphic shows winners of 81st Annual Golden Globe Awards, 2024.

"This movie is about the truth, the impossibility of catching it," she added.

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

The Globes also honour television.

‘Succession’ dominated, claiming best drama series, and acting wins for stars Kieran Culkin, Sarah Snook and Matthew Macfadyen.

‘The Bear’ swept the comedy categories, while road-rage saga ‘Beef’ did the same in limited series.

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