Oscars 2024: ‘Oppenheimer’ takes best picture, naked John Cena wears just an envelope

Oscars 2024: ‘Oppenheimer’ takes best picture, naked John Cena wears just an envelope

Awards-season behemoth “Oppenheimer” didn’t steamroll the Oscars but racked up big wins and did take home the night’s biggest prize.

Christopher Nolan’s acclaimed atomic-bomb thriller nabbed seven honors including best picture at Sunday’s 96th Academy Awards. “Oppenheimer” also won best director, actor (Cillian Murphy), supporting actor (Robert Downey Jr.), film editing, score and cinematography, while Yorgos Lanthimos’ dark comic fantasy “Poor Things” took home four Oscars, including best actress for Emma Stone. Best supporting actress went to Da’Vine Joy Randolph (“The Holdovers”).

Here are all the highlights – including naked John Cena and a rockin’ Ryan Gosling – and major winners from Hollywood’s biggest night:

Oscar-winning film legend Al Pacino comes out to reveal the winner of best picture, opens the envelope and says in overly nonchalant fashion, “My eyes see ‘Oppenheimer.’ “ To the point, a little confusing but it works: “Oppenheimer” wins! Kimmel gets in one last Nolan crack – “If only Christopher Nolan had a way to text his family about his win,” a reference to the director’s aversion to smartphones – and ends the show with a nod to his “nemesis” Matt Damon, with a shot of “Anatomy of a Fall” dog Messi cocking his leg to pee on Damon’s Walk of Fame star.

Sometime during the Oscar show, Donald Trump posted his “review” on the social-media site Truth Social: “Has there ever been a worse host than Jimmy Kimmel at the Oscars? His opening was that of a less than average person trying too hard to be something he’s not, and never can be.” (Trump also suggests they replace him with “George Slopanopolous,” which we’re going to assume is referring to George Stephanopoulos, but who really knows.)

Having an extra minute before the end of the show, Kimmel referenced the post and offered a swift and brutal response: “Well, thank you, President Trump. Thank you for watching. Isn’t it past your jail time?”

She might have missed the earlier categories “Poor Things” won, but Emma Stone made it to the stage in time to accept best actress. “My dress is broken. I think it happened during ‘I’m Just Ken,’ ” Stone says. “The women in this category … I’m in awe of you.” She thanks director Yorgos Lanthimos for the character of Bella Baxter, “the gift of my life,” and also her daughter, Louise, who’s turning 3 in three days. “I love you bigger than the whole sky, my girl,” she says, invoking lyrics by Stone’s pal Taylor Swift. It’s a little bit of a surprise, given nominee Lily Gladstone’s Screen Actors Guild win, but Stone powers “Poor Things” to its great heights so not a complete shock.

Cillian Murphy and Christopher Nolan ran roughshod over awards season, so why not Oscars, too? Murphy takes best actor and Christopher Nolan is named best director for “Oppenheimer,” running the historical epic’s awards total to six. “I’m a little overwhelmed,” Murphy says. “I’m a very proud Irishman standing here tonight. We made a film about the man who created the atomic bomb, and for better or for worse we’re all living in Oppenheimer’s world. So I dedicate this to the peacemakers.”

Annnnnnd our dreams are dashed. “Oppenheimer” takes original score and, as expected, Billie Eilish and brother Finneas O’Connell win best song for “What Was I Made For?” “I had a nightmare about this last night,” Eilish says. “I just didn’t think this would happen.” (She must have been the only one.) Fun Oscar fact: At 22, Eilish is now the youngest person in Academy Awards history to win two honors.

A pink and extremely bedazzled Gosling starts his energizing (or Kenergizing) best song Oscar performance of “I’m Just Ken” singing to co-star Margot Robbie, and somehow it gets better from there: Wielding sunglasses and karate chops, Gosling goes full rock star with a whole bunch of Kens – including Simu Liu and, yes, guitarist Slash – and even lets Greta Gerwig and Emma Stone sing into his mic during an all-out spectacle. Yeah, Billie Eilish is still winning the Academy Award but we’re keeping the Ken hopes alive.

Some fun 411 from backstage: The 64 dancing Kens in Gosling’s performance rehearsed outside the auditorium right up until the final moments before going on. Afterward, they all came out screaming with their arms in the air and gathered in an ecstatic circle jumping and yelling, “Ken! Ken! Ken! Ken!” As you do.

“Godzilla Minus One” wins for visual effects (yes!!!!!!), “Oppenheimer” conquers the film editing category, but more importantly, we need to catch up with the backstage shenanigans – like “Poor Things” star Emma Stone leaving the auditorium just as her film started going on an Oscar tear. “Oh my God, oh my God, we won and I was not sitting down,” Stone exclaimed, running up to the lobby monitor after “Things” garnered its first win for makeup and hairstyling. Her eyes were tearful and her hand was on her head. “Sorry, we went to the bathroom and missed this. We can’t go in right now. They won’t let us, right?” But as “Poor Things” won the Oscar for production design, there were more screams of happiness as she jumped off the ground. Her husband Dave McCary brought her a glass of champagne as they celebrated.

By now Florence Pugh had joined the crew with Eva Longoria behind them, as Pugh laughed about a naked John Cena onstage. But Emma is beside herself. “I’m so (expletive) excited,” she shouted. She wiped away tears from her nose, red from crying before more joyful screams erupt after a win for costume design. Thankfully, another break came so Stone could grab her husband’s hand and sprint back into the auditorium.

It may come as a surprise to some that Downey, Marvel’s erstwhile Iron Man, didn’t already have an Academy Award. Welp, that changed tonight because Downey just won his first Oscar, for best supporting actor for “Oppenheimer.” (As good as he was in “Tropic Thunder,” 2009 was the late Heath Ledger’s year.) “I would like to thank my terrible childhood and the Academy, in that order,” Downey says, also shouting out his wife Susan. “She found me a snarling rescue pet and loved me back to life.”

Of “Oppenheimer,” he adds, “Here’s my little secret, I needed this job more than it needed me. It was fantastic and I stand here a better man because of it.” And one fun note for the Marvel movie fans: Downey, aka Tony Stark, was presented the Oscar by Sam Rockwell, who played Stark nemesis Justin Hammer in “Iron Man 2.”

French courtroom drama “Anatomy of a Fall” was the best international movie of last year but it didn’t make the Oscar cut because another film was entered into the Academy Awards by its home country. (See also: “RRR” from India last year.) But Holocaust drama “The Zone of Interest” winning the international film honor was a terrific choice: Jonathan Glazer’s hard-to-watch movie about a German family living next to a concentration camp impacts your heart, your mind and all your senses. It’s not comfortable but it is, in its own way, essential.

“Costumes are so important. Maybe the most important thing there is,” says a naked John Cena, wearing only an Oscar envelope alongside host Jimmy Kimmel to hand out the Academy Award for costume design. (“Poor Things” wins that as well as production design and makeup/hairstyling.) Cena started out the bit not wanting to come out. “The male body is not a joke,” Cena quips. When Kimmel says he wrestles naked, Cena corrects him. “I don’t wrestle naked. I wrestle in jorts.” Kimmel’s retort: “Jorts are worse than naked.”

As much as we’re rooting for “I’m Just Ken” to take the best song Oscar, this is why its fellow “Barbie” tune is a more likely winner: With brother Finneas O’Connell, Billie Eilish unleashes quietly powerful emotions in an endearing version of “What Was I Made For?” that’s the first of the live song performances. We’ll have to wait a bit, but these two siblings better start thinking about where they’re putting the new hardware alongside their first Oscar and multiple Grammys.

Jimmy Kimmel is rolling out the dad jokes for the screenplay awards: “When is a screenplay old enough when you can say it’s adapted?” While we’ve already had one early head-scratching winner – how the heck does “The Boy and the Heron” take best animated feature over the fantastic “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse”? – Oscar voters get it right with original screenplay, which goes to Justine Triet’s divine courtroom drama “Anatomy of a Fall.”

Another nice surprise! Cord Jefferson’s sharp satire “American Fiction” conquers powerhouses “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” for adapted screenplay. “I just feel so much joy being here, making this, and I want so many other people to feel this joy,” says a humble Jefferson.

Oscar night is starting off well, with Da’Vine Joy Randolph getting a supporting actress Oscar for her amazing performance in “The Holdovers.” “God is so good,” Randolph says in her speech. “I didn’t think I was supposed to be doing this as a career.” She started as an aspiring opera singer and her mom told her to go the theater department because “there’s something for you there,” but a tearful Randolph really hits home for us when she thanks those folks who’ve been in her corner: “For so long I’ve always wanted to be different, and now I realize I just need to be myself. I thank you for seeing me.”

Host Jimmy Kimmel opens the show with a riff on “Barbie,” putting himself into the scene where Margot Robbie’s plastic doll tells the elderly women she’s “so beautiful.” Kimmel’s in-scene response: “I know. I was just thinking that. I’m so hungry, I haven’t eaten in three weeks.” The host then hits the stage, opening with a shot at superhero bomb “Madame Web” and a shoutout to “Barbie” director Greta Gerwig. “You’re clapping but you’re the ones who didn’t vote for her,” says Kimmel, a reference to her missing out on a best directing nomination.

Then Kimmel takes on the Oppenhomies, calling out “Oppenheimer” director Christopher Nolan’s lack of a smartphone, the pronunciation of Cillian Murphy’s name and Robert Downey Jr. on “one of the highest moments of his career” – a riff on Downey’s well-publicized past drug issues. (Oooof.) But Downey takes it in stride, motioning to his nose in knowing fashion from the crowd. Kimmel replies, “Was it too on the nose or was that a drug motion you made?”

Other topics of jest: The lengthy runtime of “Killers of the Flower Moon,” “Taxi Driver” co-stars Jodie Foster and Robert De Niro (specifically, his tendency to date younger women), wonder dog Messi in the crowd, his “Anatomy of a Fall” co-star Sandra Hüller’s foreign films, and whether Steven Spielberg is nominated or if he has Oscar “season tickets.”

There’s no sign yet of Oscar dog ju jour Messi, but the rest of Team “Anatomy of a Fall” is posted up by the food table, where guests can snag cups of charcuterie and snack mix bags to bring inside the theater. Mid-conversation with Swann Arlaud (aka “Hot Lawyer”), Milo Machado-Graner asks a server for a mini burger.

But it does get confusing a little as folks go from recharging on a couch with chips to the nerves of showtime. Following her red carpet walk, Tamsin Egerton joined her husband, “Oppenheimer” star Josh Hartnett, as they got ready to leave the bar area and get their seats. However, they slowly starting walking out of the Dolby before they were stopped by an usher. A smiling Hartnett turned around and led his wife to the correct exit.

About a half hour before the show starts, the bar scene is still happening. Kirsten Dunst and her husband, “Killers of the Flower Moon” star Jesse Plemons, are sipping cocktails and smiling as they chat with Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, the filmmaking duo behind last year’s best picture winner “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”

Folks are beginning to file in to the theater. “The Good Place” star Ted Danson guided his wife Mary Steenburgen to their seats in the orchestra, followed a few minutes later by “Barbie” actor Simu Liu and his date, girlfriend Allison Hsu.

Things are starting to get busy inside the Dolby Theatre. “American Fiction” actress Erika Alexander and “Killers of the Flower Moon” star Brandon Fraser were among the first to arrive in the fancy (and very exclusive) downstairs bar, which is serving cocktails, salmon pizza, Kobe beef sliders and – mmm, mmm, MMMM – mini tacos. (Chef Wolfgang Puck was spotted wandering out from the kitchen in white Nike slippers and a big grin to hobnob as trays of his hors d’oeuvres were passed around.) Arriving with his longtime partner Jeanne Moore, Fraser met Marlee Matlin and they had an animated discussion through a sign-language translator and took a selfie together. Then Fraser sauntered through an exit to the backstage area: Last year’s Oscar best actor winner is a presenter tonight.

Dominic Sessa was also seen enjoying a glass of white wine but it’s totally cool, though: Although he plays a teenager in “The Holdovers,” he’s of drinking age at 21.

Just as the Oscars red carpet was opening, protesters rallied for a Gaza cease-fire and snarled traffic near the Dolby Theatre, site of the Academy Awards. “No red carpet during genocide,” read one sign among dozens speaking out about the Israel-Hamas war. They waved Palestinian flags, set off red smoke bombs and chanted as a smaller group of demonstrators waved signs that read “Fear God.” They were demonstrating at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Highland Avenue, just about a block from the red carpet in Hollywood.

Political statements also are making their way into the Oscars themselves: Some attendees including Billie Eilish and Ramy Youssef are wearing red lapel pins to represent a call for increased humanitarian aid and the release of hostages.

It’s still early but there’s already some news coming from the carpet: Vanessa Hudgens, 35, revealed her pregnancy ahead of Sunday’s telecast. The co-host of ABC’s red-carpet special, who’s expecting her first child with Seattle Mariners shortstop Cole Tucker, arrived and turned heads in a black gown as she held her belly. USA TODAY has reached out to Hudgens’ and Tucker’s representatives for comment, but in the meantime … congrats, y’all!

After trying to make the “champagne carpet” happen last year – like “fetch,” it didn’t – we’re back to red for the latest parade of A-listers in their Sunday best. (Keep an eye out for fashion maven/best actor nominee Colman Domingo: He tells a different story every carpet.) E!’s “Live From the Red Carpet” kicks off at 4 p.m. ET/1 PT while ABC starts its pre-show coverage at 6:30 ET/3:30 PT hosted by Disney favorites Vanessa Hudgens (“High School Musical” represent!) and Julianne Hough. And check out entertainment.usatoday.com for our own fashion galleries and expert analysis.

Contributing: Bryan Alexander, Marco della Cava, Amanda Lee Myers, Patrick Ryan and Jay Stahl

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