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From dramas about the atomic bomb and Auschwitz, to comedies about dolls and reanimated corpses, the lineup of best picture contenders at Sunday's Oscars is the most varied in years. Image Credit: AP

The Oscars telecast is always a chaotic mix of moods and tones, and so even on a night ruled by somber themes, where the academy crowned a film about the the atomic bomb , there was also a jolt of joyful silliness when Ryan Gosling took the stage (with a slew of fellow Kens) to sing “I’m Just Ken” from “Barbie,” causing what could only rightly be called “Ken-demonium." Ken may not have his own house in Barbie Land, but he sure owned this one.

The night, though, belonged not to “Barbie” but to its partner in the cultural and marketing phenomenon known as “Barbenheimer." Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” won seven Oscars and cemented Nolan’s place in Hollywood history. The film’s haul also included a satisfying win for longtime Nolan collaborator Cillian Murphy, who won best actor , and an emotional win for Robert Downey Jr., his first Oscar in an up-and-down career.

Cillian Murphy reacts as 'Oppenheimer' wins the Oscar for Best Picture Image Credit: Reuters

Those wins were expected, but there were still a few surprises. In the closest race, Emma Stone won her second Oscar for her hugely inventive performance in “Poor Things,” a victory that denied Lily Gladstone a chance to make history as the first Native American to win an Oscar.

More of the night’s notable moments:


Viewers tuning in at the beginning may have been perplexed to find commercials instead. When he came on, Kimmel noted the show was already running five minutes late. His monologue was perhaps a little snark-heavy — it's OK, maybe, to joke about the length of “Killers of the Flower Moon” (so long you could drive to Oklahoma and solve the case yourself ) but maybe less OK to joke about a Holocaust-themed film being considered “rom-com” material in Germany. Still, he warmed hearts by introducing the beloved dog Messi from “Anatomy of a Fall,” and earned a standing ovation when he brought out film crews and truckers, hailing them for refusing to cross the picket line during the recent labor strikes by actors and writers.


By 30 minutes in, only one award had been presented, but luckily it was to Da’Vine Joy Randolph . She'd been favored all along to win best supporting actress for“The Holdovers,” but she reduced many to tears with a poignant speech about her road to triumph. “For so long I’ve always wanted to be different,” said Randolph. “And now I realize I just need to be myself.” She thanked a mentor, saying “when I was the only Black girl in that class, you saw me and you told me I was enough.” And she thanked her publicist, saying she knew that was unusual “but you don’t have a publicist like I have a publicist!" Randolph added toward the end: “I pray to God that I get to do this more than once.” Hear, hear.


Downey Jr.’s supporting actor victory for “Oppenheimer” may also have been expected, but that didn’t make his speech any less moving. It was his third nomination in a long Hollywood career marked by highs and lows. “I’d like to thank my terrible childhood,” Downey said, pausing – “and the academy, in that order.” He acknowledged that he had “needed this job more than it needed me,” and thanked not only Nolan but his stylist, his publicist and, finally, his entertainment lawyer of many years, who spent half that time “trying to get me insured” — a reference to a series of arrests for drug-related charges and a year in prison that followed Downey’s first Oscar nod 30 years ago.

Robert Downey Jr., winner of Best Supporting Actor award for 'Oppenheimer' poses in the press room during the 96th Annual Academy Awards. Image Credit: AFP


“If they decide to kill me, it means that we are incredibly strong.” Those words from the mouth of Navalny, the Russian opposition leader, began the in memoriam segment, a devastating reminder of his death last month in a Russian prison. Navalny was the subject of last year’s winning documentary, “Navalny,” and his wife had stood on the stage that night and spoken to him directly: “Alexei, I am dreaming of the day when you will be free and our country will be free,” Yulia Navalnaya had said. Stay strong, my love.”


Many were anticipating a historic win for Gladstone for her subtle and affecting work as an Osage wife in “Killers of the Flower Moon.” Gladstone would have become the first Native American to win an Oscar and had won several precursor awards, but it was Stone's masterfully physical comedic performance in “Poor Things” that won instead, with the actor making some history of her own as one of the few to win the best actress category multiple times – and at only 35. Stone told Gladstone that she shared the award with her. She also confessed to the crowd that she had a “broken” dress — a back that had unraveled, apparently during the evening’s most high energy moment…

US actress Emma Stone accepts the award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for "Poor Things" onstage during the 96th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on March 10, 2024. ( Image Credit: AP


… namely, the delightfully raucous “I’m Just Ken” performance, in which Gosling proved yet again that he can do almost anything (drama, action, comedy, song and dance) without breaking a sweat. It was a moment that was highly anticipated by “Barbie” fans and, well, practically everyone, and it did not disappoint. Gosling, in shocking pink and sequins, began his performance in the audience, singing into the ears of co-star Margot Robbie, and then headed to the stage, where he joined Mark Ronson, executive producer of the “Barbie” soundtrack, and a gaggle of dancing Kens, including Simu Liu. A surprise guest was Slash on guitar, but the best moment was when Gosling went down to the front row to sing with a delighted Greta Gerwig, Robbie, and America Ferrera, who sang with him: ”I’m just Ken and I’m enough, And I’m great at doing stuff!” Yes, he was great at doing stuff.

Ryan Gosling
Ryan Gosling performs the song "I'm Just Ken" from the movie "Barbie" during the Oscars on Sunday, March 10, 2024, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Image Credit: AP


Like many of the evening's prizes. Nolan's award for best director — and best picture for “Oppenheimer,” along with his producer wife Emma Thomas — may have been a forgone conclusion. But it was still thrilling to behold the coronation of a filmmaker who many thought was long overdue. Winning his first directing Oscar, the 53-year-old Nolan remarked that cinema is just over a hundred years old. “Imagine being there 100 years into painting or theater,” said Nolan. “We don’t know where this incredible journey is going from here. But to know that you think that I’m a meaningful part of it means the world to me.”

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BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 12: (L-R) Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas attend the 96th Oscars Nominees Luncheon at The Beverly Hilton on February 12, 2024 in Beverly Hills, California. JC Olivera/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by JC Olivera / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP) Image Credit: Getty Images via AFP