Christopher Nolan is one of the most prominent figures in modern cinema, with a flair that very few can match. This is true of his writing style and cinematography; in his most recent creative endeavor, we see him doing what he enjoys the most: creating art.
Everyone knows Oppenheimer is Oscar bait, but it’s at least beautifully done, and some of Nolan’s peers can learn from his example. Even though three hours has never been one of my preferred lengths, yet nothing about that time felt wasted.
Using Nolan’s non-linear storytelling form, this movie effortlessly mixes tales and multiple time periods as it examines the unfathomable depths of a man whose actions changed the world’s course forever, for better or worse. This is such a significant and vital time in history, and Nolan takes his time presenting it, never succumbing to the the audience. It was almost like piecing together a puzzle to see how things would turn out. Given that this was a biopic, I didn’t expect anything out of the ordinary, but I definitely forgot who I was dealing with. He used as much surrealistic cinematography as the movie allowed, and it was some of his greatest work.
There are many scenes where characters are just conversing and a lot of dialogue is being thrown centering around politics and physics, and the audience’s undivided attention is required to not miss a single detail. There was no shortage of cliches present here, but that was unavoidable when trying to stay true to the many incidents that Oppenheimer was involved in.
Hollywood A-listers bring their A-Game
The cast was a Hollywood who’s who list, and they brought their A-game. There were just too many to name to show why Nolan’s name still carries so much weight in the movie industry.
Robert Downey Jr. is a shoe-in for an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor, and he demonstrates again that even after a decade of being trapped performing superhero hijinks, he can still provide a really engaging performance. He doesn’t appear in much of the movie, yet his performance stands out long after the credits have rolled. From his speech to his gestures, you can tell his persona is malicious. Matt Damon is excellent. Emily Blunt and Florence Pugh both give phenomenal performances, while Alden Ehrenreich adds some light humor.
But the most standout performance was easily Cillian Murphy. His ability to pull off a Midwest accent while having a strong brogue is astounding. Murphy has always been a showman, but this might be his role of a lifetime. He actually transforms into J. Robert Oppenheimer, and his eyes reflect so much – fear, prowess, grief, resolve, sorrow – so many emotions. Truly an incredible performance.
Oppenheimer is for Cinephiles
This movie is an absolute treat for cinephiles, going above and beyond to deliver a captivating experience. Shot on glorious 65mm larger format film, it pushes the boundaries by incorporating sections in IMAX black and white analog photography – a first-ever in cinema. What sets it apart is its dedication to extensive practical effects, shying away from the overused CGI prevalent in today’s Hollywood blockbusters.
In the past, CGI used to be the talk of the town, however, in today’s saturated landscape, witnessing a big-budget film relying solely on practical and camera lighting effects is nothing short of remarkable – and that’s exactly what Oppenheimer achieves.
From Oppenheimer’s vivid mental images of fire and space to the jaw-dropping atomic bomb detonation. One of the most horrifying experiences is being able to go deep into Oppenheimer’s mind, comprehending his anguish, excitement, and terror, as well as the implications of his decisions. There was one scene in particular that broke my heart, despite the fact that it was intended to be a happy occasion for the residents of Los Alamos. I felt sick from the growing joy I felt while they were celebrating. Their triumphs made me joyful as an audience member — a complete 180 from how I should feel as a human being.
The sound design and score are equally awe-inspiring, adding an ever-lingering haunting atmosphere throughout the narrative. And when it comes to scores, Nolan films never disappoint, and composer Ludwig Göransson brings his A-game, making it a match made in cinematic heaven.
Oppenheimer is a fascinating historical epic that gives insight into a pivotal era in history, and Nolan employs his cinematographic talents to great use to deliver a really captivating and unnerving cinematic experience.