What’s it about?
The life and work of physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, recruited in WW2 to lead the Manhattan Project in developing the first atomic bomb.
What’d we think?
Oppenheimer is an incredible film. It’s a beautiful bit of filmmaking, Nolan’s obsession for shooting on the biggest film stock he can find pays off (again), supported by exceptional editing and a fantastic score (and in case you’re wondering, I saw two screenings, and the dialogue was audible in both). Importantly, all of this is in service of a fantastic narrative account of Oppenheimer’s life instead of simply focusing on the Manhattan Project and the Harlem Globetrotters of physicists that he assembled to build the bomb, but the profile it gave him, the weight that gave his views, and how they conflicted with those of the powerful. It’s a little Social Network, a little Citizen Kane, but it’s very much a Nolan film, and potentially his best – it may not be Nolan fan’s favourite in the long-run, but this is a masterpiece.
There are no weak links in the absolutely stacked cast, but Cillian Murphy carries the whole movie in a performance that is going to be held up as one of the greats. Oppenheimer’s three-hour runtime isn’t just justified, it’s perfectly paced, feeling like the resolution of the film can only have come as a result of the elements that combined before it, and that just happens to be how long it takes to play you (the audience) like a fiddle right up to the credits. Not that the movie is tricking you, but it so expertly captures your attention and directs your emotions that you can’t help but feel part of some bigger chain reaction. It’s a masterpiece, everyone involved better whip out their best statue-handling clothes.