Christopher Nolan wins his first Oscar for directing ‘Oppenheimer’

Emma Thomas, from left, Christopher Nolan, and Charles Roven pose in the press room with the award for best picture for "Oppenheimer" at the Oscars on Sunday, March 10, 2024, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Emma Thomas, from left, Christopher Nolan, and Charles Roven pose in the press room with the award for best picture for “Oppenheimer” at the Oscars on Sunday, March 10, 2024, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Christopher Nolan fulfilled his award show frontrunner status, winning his first Oscar on Sunday night for directing “Oppenheimer” and then another for best picture.

The 53-year-old British visionary has garnered critical acclaim throughout his career, but had never won at the Oscars until now. He was nominated for directing “Dunkirk” in 2017 and for original screenplay in 2010 for “Inception” and in 2001 for “Memento.”

“Winning this recognition from my peers is the icing on the cake,” he said backstage. “It’s very important to me. It’s a wonderful finish to what’s been an incredible year.”

Nolan quickly added a second statue when “Oppenheimer” closed the evening by winning best picture, one of seven Oscars it earned, including best actor for Cillian Murphy and supporting actor for Robert Downey Jr. The film earned a leading 13 nominations and has earned nearly $1 billion worldwide.

“It means I can do curls,” Nolan joked, with an Oscar in each hand. “They’re very heavy.”

Onstage, Nolan noted that movies are just a little over 100 years old and thanked the Academy for the honor. “We don’t know where this incredible journey is going from here,” he said. “But to know that you think I am a meaningful part of it means the world to me.”

Nolan beat out Jonathan Glazer of “The Zone of Interest,” Yorgos Lanthimos of “Poor Things,” Martin Scorsese of “Killers of the Flower Moon,” and Justine Triet of “Anatomy of a Fall.”At 81, Scorsese was the oldest directing nominee.

Nolan was cheered on by his wife, Emma Thomas, who twice shared best picture nominations with her husband for producing “Dunkirk” and “Inception.” The college sweethearts have been producing partners on all of his films since 1997.

The couple planned to celebrate with their children, starting at the Governors Ball, the Academy’s official post-show celebration.

Nolan had been the frontrunner throughout awards season, earning the top prize from the Directors Guild of America along with directing honors at the BAFTA Film Awards and Golden Globes.

Besides directing, Nolan earned nominations for adapted screenplay and best picture for “Oppenheimer,” the three-hour, ambitious, R-rated epic about the American physicist who developed the atomic bomb.

“Starting with the response of audiences around the world to ‘Oppenheimer,’ which far exceeded our expectations, there were so many things that came together for us on this film,” Nolan said.

The auteur filmmaker is known for a style that favors documentary-style lighting, hand-held cameras and on-location shooting rather than indoor studios. He has been regularly praised by many of his contemporaries, including Scorsese, who has hailed Nolan for creating “beautifully made films on a big scale.”

Among his other credits are “Tenet,” “Interstellar” and the Batman trilogy of “Batman Begins,” “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises.”

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