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Oscar nominations: 'Barbie' and 'Oppenheimer' are expected to figure prominently

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Nominations for the Academy Awards come out today in Southern California, and the box office phenomenon known as Barbenheimer will figure prominently almost for sure. NPR's Bob Mondello fills us in.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: A hot pink comedy...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BARBIE")

RYAN GOSLING: (As Ken) Hi, Barbie.

MARGOT ROBBIE: (As Barbie) Hi, Ken.

MONDELLO: ...And a dark biopic about the creator of the atom bomb...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "OPPENHEIMER")

CILLIAN MURPHY: (As J. Robert Oppenheimer) This is a national emergency.

MONDELLO: ...Are expected to lead the parade of Oscar nominees, just as they have the rosters at Golden Globe, Critics Choice, BAFTA and various Hollywood Guild ceremonies. Some years, the Oscars feel like an election, as in 2017, when the leading films were so competitive that the audience unquestioningly cheered a win by "La La Land," only to discover that the wrong envelope had been opened.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JORDAN HOROWITZ: This is not a joke. I'm afraid they read the wrong thing. "Moonlight" - best picture.

MONDELLO: Other years, the Oscars are less like an election than a coronation for an overwhelming favorite. This year has been feeling like a coronation so far, as Christopher Nolan's "Oppenheimer" has swept awards ceremonies. But the season's still early, and there are certainly worthy contenders, including Martin Scorsese's Native American epic "Killers Of The Flower Moon"...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON")

ROBERT DE NIRO: (As William Hale) Money flows freely here now.

LEONARDO DICAPRIO: (As Ernest Burkhart) I do love that money, sir.

MONDELLO: ...The fierce feminist comedy "Poor Things"...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "POOR THINGS")

EMMA STONE: (As Bella Baxter) I am Bella Baxter, and there is a world to enjoy, circumnavigate.

MONDELLO: ...Bradley Cooper's portrait of symphony conductor Leonard Bernstein, "Maestro"...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "MAESTRO")

BRADLEY COOPER: (As Leonard Bernstein) I love people so much that it. It's hard for me to be alone.

MONDELLO: ...And Greta Gerwig's "Barbie," which is not just a social phenomenon but also the year's biggest box office hit.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BARBIE")

HARI NEF: (As Barbie) This is the best day ever.

ROBBIE: (As Barbie) It is the best day ever. So is yesterday, and so is tomorrow and every day from now until forever.

MONDELLO: Other possible Best Picture nominees include the period comedy "The Holdovers," the musical "The Color Purple," the French courtroom drama "Anatomy Of A Fall," the animated superhero epic "Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse" and the publishing industry dramedy "American Fiction."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "AMERICAN FICTION")

JOHN ORTIZ: (As Arthur) They want a Black book.

JEFFREY WRIGHT: (As Thelonious "Monk" Ellison) They have a Black book. I'm Black, and it's my book.

MONDELLO: Best Director and Best Actor categories are considered highly competitive this year, and Best Actress is potentially precedent-setting. Lily Gladstone, widely considered a frontrunner for her leading role in "Killers Of The Flower Moon," will almost certainly be nominated and could become the first Indigenous woman ever to win an acting Oscar.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON")

LILY GLADSTONE: (As Mollie Burkhart) I ought to kill these white men who killed my family.

MONDELLO: Shortlists in some categories have excluded widely acclaimed films. "Anatomy Of A Fall," for instance, was passed over by France's nominating committee for best international feature, and the universally acclaimed Sundance smash "Little Richard: I Am Everything" didn't make the documentary shortlist.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, "LITTLE RICHARD: I AM EVERYTHING")

LITTLE RICHARD: (Singing) He saw Mary coming, and he ducked back in the alley.

MONDELLO: There is one significant change to this year's nominating process. Back in 2020, in response to widespread criticism of Hollywood's lack of diversity, the Academy instituted four new diversity and inclusion standards designed to expand participation by historically underrepresented groups both on- and off-screen. For the last two years, those standards have been recommended for Best Picture nominees. This year Best Picture nominees are required to fulfill at least two of the four standards. This does not appear to be a particularly heavy lift. The Academy announced on January 8 that of the 321 films eligible for Oscars, 265 had also qualified for Best Picture consideration. Absence from the Best Picture list does not indicate that the other films failed to meet the new standards. Producers can simply opt out by not submitting a form. Presumably, that happened with such high-profile but ineligible films as "The Marvels" and "Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour."

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, "TAYLOR SWIFT: THE ERAS TOUR")

TAYLOR SWIFT: (Singing) Are you ready for it?

MONDELLO: Today's announcement of nominees is taking place in Los Angeles. NPR's Mandalit del Barco will have details shortly. The gold Oscar statuettes will be handed out on a live Academy Awards telecast on Sunday, March 10.

Bob Mondello, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Bob Mondello, who jokes that he was a jinx at the beginning of his critical career — hired to write for every small paper that ever folded in Washington, just as it was about to collapse — saw that jinx broken in 1984 when he came to NPR.