Here’s How Oppenheimer Could Break a Decades-Long BAFTAs Record

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Christopher Nolan’s biopic Oppenheimer, starring Cillian Murphy as the titular character, could hit a new milestone Sunday night at the British Academy Film Awards (the BAFTAs) with the chance to break a decades-old record.

The film about J. Robert Oppenheimer, the creator of the atomic bomb, led nominations for this year’s awards show, receiving 13 nods, including for Best Film. If the movie wins in 10 or more categories, it will beat a record for most wins at the British awards show set 53 years ago.

In 1971, classic Western film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid swept nine awards at the BAFTAs––a tally that hasn’t been topped since. Only one of the film’s nominations that year didn’t succeed.

Appearing on the podcast Countdown to the BAFTAs with his wife and another one of the film’s producers, Emma Thomas, Nolan said the release of a “three hour R-rated film about quantum physics” that “made a billion dollars” reminded “the studios that there is an appetite for something people haven’t seen before or an approach to things that people haven’t seen before.”

At the 2024 BAFTAs, Oppenheimer is in the best position to end the Western’s winning streak. Yorgos Lanthimos' Poor Things is also a contender, having received 11 nominations. Meanwhile, Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon and Jonathan Glazer’s The Zone of Interest received nine nominations each, meaning they could tie but not beat the previous record for most wins.

Greta Gerwig’s Barbie, which earned more at the box office than Oppenheimer when the two movies opened on the same weekend last summer, earning the coined phrase “Barbenheimer,” received five nominations––none for Best Film.

The BAFTAs, taking place Sunday at the Royal Festival Hall in London, will be hosted by Scottish actor David Tennant and feature the stars of 2023’s most celebrated films. 

Oppenheimer has already racked up awards this season, taking home trophies at the Critics Choice Awards, Golden Globes and Grammys, and received the most nominations at the Oscars, which will take place in March.

Barbie was nominated for Oscars for Best Picture and other categories, but the list snubbed Gerwig for directing and the film’s star Margot Robbie for best actress in a leading role, drawing criticism from co-star Ryan Gosling, who is in the running for best supporting actor.

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