“Oppenheimer” Review Round-Up: One of the Best Biopics Ever Made
The review embargo was officially lifted on Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, and it comes as no surprise that the film is coming in for some of the best reviews in Nolan’s career. Maybe the best. After the film premiered in Paris last week (but before the review embargo was lifted), the first reactions were often of astonishment. Fellow filmmaker Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, First Reformed) went so far as to call it “The best, most important film of the century.” And now, the rest of the movie-reviewing world has seen it, and they’re just about unanimous in agreement.
Oppenheimer follows the father of the atomic bomb, J. Robert Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy, lauded by every critic for his performance) and his work on the Manhattan Project, as he led the United States effort to build the bomb before the Nazis could. At three hours long and with a forgone conclusion (at least for the part of this history people know off the top of their heads), there was never any guarantee Nolan could turn his biopic into a thrilling, harrowing masterpiece. He has.
“Oppenheimer is a great achievement in formal and conceptual terms, and fully absorbing, but Nolan’s filmmaking is, crucially, in service to the history that it relates,” says Manohla Nargis, chief film critic at The New York Times.
“Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer is a kinetic thing of dark, imposing beauty that quakes with the disquieting tremors of a forever rupture in the course of human history,” writes the AP‘s Jake Coyle.
Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post writes, “[Nolan] has brought to life not just J. Robert Oppenheimer, but the still-crucial arguments he both started and tried to end. Oppenheimer boldly posits that those arguments are still worth having, in a film of magnitude, profundity and dazzling artistry.”
There’s more like this. A lot more. Let’s have a brief glance at what some other critics are saying. Oppenheimer arrives in theaters on July 21. You probably want to see it on the biggest screen possible.
“‘Oppenheimer’ could retrospectively seem like a turning point in the director’s filmography, when he takes the stylistic and technical practices that he’d been honing for the previous 20 years in intellectualized pulp blockbusters and turns them inward.” https://t.co/CvPJVzI2aL
— Matt Zoller Seitz (@mattzollerseitz) July 19, 2023
Review: If “Oppenheimer” is a supersize movie, that’s because anything else would do a disservice to J. Robert Oppenheimer, the tragic figure at its core brought to fascinatingly paradoxical life by Cillian Murphy. https://t.co/bX5l1bWnpk
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) July 19, 2023
‘Oppenheimer’ Review: Christopher Nolan’s Epic Thriller Of The Father Of The Atomic Bomb Is As Frightening As It Is Brilliant https://t.co/jNu0AQQqgS
— Deadline Hollywood (@DEADLINE) July 19, 2023
Read our review of “Oppenheimer,” Christopher Nolan’s complex, vivid portrait of the “father of the atomic bomb.” It’s a Critic’s Pick. https://t.co/5wcJ6dLaxq
— The New York Times (@nytimes) July 19, 2023
With OPPENHEIMER, Christopher Nolan has made the kind of big, brainy, cinematic event movie that’s all but extinct from the studios. See it on the biggest screen you can find. My @THR reviewhttps://t.co/WxUmhf0CCb
— David Rooney (@DavidCRooney1) July 19, 2023
— Variety (@Variety) July 19, 2023
— Rolling Stone (@RollingStone) July 19, 2023
“A film that you don’t merely watch, but must reckon with.”
— Empire Magazine (@empiremagazine) July 19, 2023
Either despite its intense craft or because of it, Christopher Nolan’s 3-hour movie about the architect of the atomic bomb works.
— TIME (@TIME) July 19, 2023
Christopher Nolan’s #Oppenheimer is simply extraordinary!
Check out our full review 🔥 https://t.co/MELO6ziE84
— Total Film (@totalfilm) July 19, 2023
“Oppenheimer” is astonishing.
A paralyzing three-hour biopic that plays like a full-tilt thriller, steeped in hellish visions of a crumbling world and legacy. Nolan’s “Tree of Death,” practically reverse engineered from Oppenheimer’s haunted NBC closeup. https://t.co/Bm2ldwiNRa
— Siddhant Adlakha (@SiddhantAdlakha) July 19, 2023
The more I thought about OPPENHEIMER, the more I liked it. And there was never any question about Cillian Murphy’s performance, which is fantastic. https://t.co/SmeyjaKMxK
— Stephanie Zacharek (@szacharek) July 19, 2023
Me on Christopher Nolan’s #OPPENHEIMER: Big, bold, full of ideas & deep moral ambiguities I yearn to see in movies. I left the theater liking it, came to love it the more I wrote. Perhaps a bit brassy on occasion, but that’s Nolan. Can’t wait to see again. https://t.co/KHgTHIVyqv
— Tomris Laffly (@TomiLaffly) July 19, 2023
— The Seattle Times (@seattletimes) July 19, 2023
“It’s a paradox, but it works.” On Christopher Nolan’s OPPENHEIMER: https://t.co/JkiiWmZG0E
— Justin Chang (@JustinCChang) July 19, 2023
For more on Oppenheimer, check out these stories:
Featured image: Cillian Murphy as J. Robert Oppenheimer in OPPENHEIMER, written and directed by Christopher Nolan. Courtesy of Universal Pictures.