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Kwei’s Film Reviews-15--Oscar 2024 : “Oppenheimer”

Updated: May 3

[The 2024 Oscars will take place on March 10, 2024. Until then, I’ll review as many Best Picture films as possible.]

In my film reviews, I start with the benchmark of five stars and then deduct half or one point if the film falls short in any of the following categories: · Storyline · Screenplay · Acting · Direction · Character Arcs

The reviews are my opinions alone.

Promotional poster for the movie 'Oppenheimer', depicting J. Robert Oppenheimer in a trench coat, set against a backdrop of a fiery atomic explosion and complex mechanical gears, highlighting themes of scientific innovation and ethical dilemma
Complexities of science and morality in 'Oppenheimer

Plot Overview

With "Best Picture" and twelve other nominations, 'Oppenheimer’ leads the 2024 pack of nominees. It’s a biopic exploration of the paradox of progress, delving into the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer and his pivotal role in the Manhattan Project. This Oscar-nominated film captures the tension and drama behind the creation of the atomic bomb.

Cast Highlights

Cillian Murphy delivers an understated yet on-target performance as J. Robert Oppenheimer, encapsulating the profound conflict of a man who built the unthinkable. The supporting cast is a powerhouse of A-List actors, including Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jr., and Kenneth Branagh, whose riveting portrayals elevate the film further. In some cases, the characters’ makeup is so effective as to render some actors almost unrecognizable in their roles, with Robert Downey Jr. as an example. Matt Damon as General Leslie Groves is spellbinding.

Behind The Scenes

Directed by the acclaimed Chris Nolan, 'Oppenheimer' is a testament to the dedication to bringing historical accuracy to the silver screen. Nolan's commitment to the authenticity of technical facts about the Manhattan Project is strongly evident. Did Einstein really encourage the US to pursue the development of a nuclear weapon? An Oppenheimer fact-check reveals that German-born theoretical physicist Albert Einstein signed a letter dubbed the Einstein-Szilard letter on August 2, 1939. Authored by physicist Leo Szilard, the letter was sent to President Franklin D. Roosevelt recommending funding for research into the potential for using nuclear fission as a weapon.


The movie is an intricate tapestry of ambition, ethics, and human frailty. It goes beyond the historical events to question the cost of genius and the price of ambition, leaving audiences to ponder long after the lights come up. It may not precisely move you with a strong emotion in one direction or the other. I can’t say I liked any of the characters, and none tugged at my heartstrings, but perhaps that was the intention. The subject matter of the Manhattan Project is so overpowering that the film may leave you cold, shivery, and a little empty. Although engrossing, the film might have been trimmed a little. Even so, I was surprised at the conclusion of “Oppenheimer” that more than three hours of watching time had passed so quickly.

Wrap-up and Rating

Storyline: Exceptional, threading through the complexities of J. Robert Oppenheimer's life.

Screenplay: Skillful and engaging, brimming with sharp dialogue and intense moments. However, the film could have benefited from some trimming to maintain a tighter pace.

Acting: Seamless, with Cillian Murphy leading with an understated but on-target performance.

Directing: Nolan's direction is technically masterful, even though the frequent color-to-black-and-white transitions can be disorienting, momentarily pulling the viewer out of the immersive experience he so carefully constructs.

Character Arcs: Satisfying, each central figure receiving a well-crafted journey that resonates emotionally and intellectually with the audience.

Overall rating a solid 4 Stars

Bottom Line

Oppenheimer is a compelling cinematic experience rich in detail and depth, cementing its place as a standout historical drama of our time.

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