PG Score: 8.25/10
Oppenheimer was released in theaters on 7/21/23
Christopher Nolan (Memento) has made an indelible mark on the film industry. Never afraid to take on a challenge, he has given us some of the best films of the first quarter of the century. Oppenheimer had a lot of hype and pomp behind it, allegedly being Nolan's crowning achievement in filmmaking. There was a lot of weight on the filmmaker and the actors making up this film, and what a cast it is. Too many actors to name. There were no small parts in this film, and the star power of the director and leading actors led to a lot of big-name cameos from actors who jumped at a chance to be in a Nolan film, regardless of screen time.
There were no bad performances in this film, but I'm going to focus on just two of the performers. Cillian Murphy (Red Eye) is no stranger to the spotlight. From film to television and back, Murphy brings his A-game every time out. Cast as J. Robert Oppenheimer himself, Murphy did a tremendous job of capturing the brilliance and madness that comes with being a certain type of genius. Oppenheimer shares a few things in common with Sheldon Cooper. Brilliant theoretical physicist who developed awkward social skills, making it extremely difficult to interact with other people. Similarities end there between the two, obviously, with one being a fictional tv character and the other bearing the weight of being responsible for the development of the nuclear bomb.
Covering different important moments in Oppenheimer's life, Murphy captures his youthful passion at moments early on, but you can see him age as he carries the weight of his life choices and the responsibility laid before him. This is Cillian Murphy's best performance, and it would be the best performance in the film if it wasn't for one other actor.
Playing the same character for over 11 years, Oppenheimer was Robert Downey Jr's (Iron Man) chance to remind the world of what an amazing actor he is. Totally embracing the role, you can lose sight of RDJ as he becomes Lewis Strauss, the least likeable character in the film. An amazing performance and possibly the early front-runner for best supporting actor, RDJ's Strauss is a gray character who did a lot of good for America. But it is his butting heads and feeling slighted by Oppenheimer that drives a big part of the story.
Signature Christopher Nolan
There are no spoilers going in. Anyone can google search 'J. Robert Oppenheimer' and get a good idea of the man's life. Nolan gives us a deep character study and does it in a way that is compelling and moves the plot along fast. Using black and white along with color, Oppenheimer is told in a nonlinear fashion, but is much easier to follow than when Nolan did this with Dunkirk. A large part of the story is told from the inception of the Manhattan Project to the post-war period when Oppenheimer's past and current relationships with communists and radicals make certain people worry about his trustworthiness. It's interesting to note that the black and white scenes are factual events and the scenes in color are based on true events but have a lot of speculation and assumptions surrounding the finer details.
Wonderfully shot with no CGI, Christopher Nolan tells a beautiful and dark tale of the life of a brilliant mind and the event that changed the world forever, opening Pandora's Box with one of the worst and deadliest man-made weapons.
Oppenheimer: Nolan's Magnum Opus?
Is Oppenheimer Nolan's best film? That is certainly up for debate, but while it isn't my favorite Nolan film, it is definitely the most well-acted. A stellar cast has each actor bringing their best, and much like the Manhattan Project, Oppenheimer brings together the best in the world to give a masterful performance. Thought-provoking with a deep insight into one of the 20th century's brightest minds, in addition to all the other bright minds that interacted with him, Oppenheimer deserves to be seen on the big screen. Probably in IMAX as well, for the full effect.