Oppenheimer, Christopher Nolan’s epic biopic about atomic bomb creator J Robert Oppenheimer, has swept the Bafta film awards nominations with 13 nods.

The film’s star Cillian Murphy, who plays the title role, is nominated in the best actor category, going head-to-head with fellow Irishman Barry Keoghan for Saltburn.

Murphy’s co-stars Emily Blunt and Robert Downey Jr are also nominated for supporting prizes, while Nolan has scored a best director nod and the drama is recognised in the best film category.

Murphy and Keoghan will compete against Bradley Cooper for Maestro, Colman Domingo for Rustin, Paul Giamatti for The Holdovers, and Teo Yoo for Past Lives to take home the best actor prize.

The best actress prize sees Barbie star Margot Robbie compete against Poor Things star Emma Stone, Carey Mulligan for Maestro, Sandra Huller for Anatomy Of A Fall, Fantasia Barrino for The Color Purple and Vivian Oparah for British romantic comedy Rye Lane.

Awards Season
Margot Robbie has been nominated for best actress for her role in Barbie (Warner Bros)

German actress Huller is also nominated in a second category, picking up a supporting actress nod for The Zone Of Interest, alongside Oppenheimer’s Blunt, Rosamund Pike for Saltburn, Da’Vine Joy Randolph for The Holdovers, Danielle Brooks for The Color Purple and Claire Foy for All Of Us Strangers.

Downey Jr, who has already won a Golden Globe and a Critics Choice award for his performance as Lewis Strauss, the chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission in Oppenheimer, will compete against Robert De Niro for Killers Of The Flower Moon, Jacob Elordi for Saltburn, Ryan Gosling for Barbie, Paul Mescal for All Of Us Strangers and Dominic Sessa for The Holdovers for the supporting actor prize.

Oppenheimer, which was a box office juggernaut when it was released in cinemas last year on the same day as Barbie – sparking the Barbenheimer phenomenon – marks a crowning achievement for British filmmaker Nolan, who has never won the directing Bafta.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

He will face competition from All Of Us Strangers director Andrew Haigh, Anatomy Of A Fall’s Justine Triet, The Holdovers’ Alexander Payne, Maestro’s Cooper and Jonathan Glazer for The Zone Of Interest.

For the best film prize, Oppenheimer will compete against the gothic fairytale Poor Things, which scored 11 nods.

Also in the running is French courtroom drama Anatomy Of A Fall, Martin Scorsese’s western crime thriller Killers Of The Flower Moon and The Holdovers, about a cranky prep school teacher forced to remain on campus over the holidays with a troubled student.

Notably absent from the category is Barbie, which was the highest-grossing film of 2023, with director Greta Gerwig also absent from the directing category.

Gerwig is, however, recognised in the original screenplay alongside her husband and co-writer Noah Baumbach.

The contenders for outstanding British film are All Of Us Strangers, How To Have Sex, Napoleon, The Old Oak, Poor Things, Rye Lane, Saltburn, Scrapper, Wonka and The Zone Of Interest.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

Bafta chair Sara Putt told the PA news agency: “I think the hallmark I would give this year’s list is variety and quality.

“I think it’s an incredibly competitive year. And in variety, that is obviously about the filmmakers and the stories they are choosing to tell and my goodness, what a range of stories.”

She added: “I think where Bafta can and does play a part is that we are encouraging our increasingly diverse membership – and we’ve worked very hard to make sure that our membership reflects the population as a whole – to watch as great a variety of films as possible.

“Not just in cinemas, not just at screenings, but also on Bafta View (the screening platform for voting members) which is working so well for us now.

“And when you create those conversations by getting people to watch all of those films, I think you get what we’re seeing here, which is a really broad and diverse list of amazing films.”

(PA Graphics)

She added: “What what I love with films like Oppenheimer and indeed Barbie, which has five nominations, and which sparked a frenzy last summer of getting people into cinemas and watching films, is being reflected in our awards because that is so much part of our role.

“We are here to encourage those conversations, to get people watching films, and to get people going to their cinemas. And that’s a really exciting role to be able to play.”

The EE Bafta film awards will be hosted by David Tennant at the Royal Festival Hall on February 18 and will air on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.