Emma Thomas, left, and Christopher Nolan accept the award for...

Emma Thomas, left, and Christopher Nolan accept the award for best picture for "Oppenheimer" during the Oscars Sunday in Los Angeles. Credit: AP/Chris Pizzello

“Oppenheimer” proved a megaton hit at the Oscars, leading the ceremony with seven awards, including Best Picture, best actor for Cillian Murphy, best supporting actor for Robert Downey Jr. — and in a career first — best director for Christopher Nolan.

“Movies are just a little bit over 100 years old,” Nolan said in his acceptance speech. “We don’t know where this incredible journey is going to go from here. But to know that you think I’m a meaningful part of it means the world to me.”

It was one of many heartfelt and often emotional speeches at this year’s Oscars, which arrived after an up-and-down year in Hollywood. There were debilitating strikes, there were box-office hits like “Barbie,” there were superhero fizzles like “The Marvels” and there was the still-lingering concern that post-pandemic audiences were not coming back to theaters like they ought to. At the Dolby Theatre Sunday night, the winners seemed deeply invested in this particular round of awards.

There were unabashed displays of emotion. The first came from Da’Vine Joy Randolph, who won supporting actress for her performance as a grieving cafeteria worker in “The Holdovers” and spoke through tears as she thanked the mother who encouraged her acting aspirations. “For so long, I’ve always wanted to be different,” Randolph said, “and now I realize I just need to be myself.”

Randolph’s tears seemed contagious. Her co-star, nominee Paul Giamatti, cried a little just watching her. When director Jonathan Glazer accepted the International Feature award for his Holocaust drama, “The Zone of Interest,” his star, Sandra Huller, shed tears on his behalf. At the end of the show, Emma Stone dissolved into tears while dedicating her Best Actress award for “Poor Things” to her 3-year-old daughter.

“I love you bigger than the whole sky, my girl,” she said.

Another moving speech came from Mstyslav Chernov, the Ukrainian writer-director whose “20 Days in Mariupol” offered a window onto Russia’s invasion of his homeland, won Best Documentary Feature. In halting English, and pausing to control his emotions, Chernov said he would gladly trade his Oscar — his country’s first — for peace.

The gathered celebrities also displayed some high spirits. John Cena showed up nearly naked to sing the praises of costume designers. Steven Spielberg, in his seat, happily mugged for the camera whenever an on-stage joke involved him. And one of the show’s most-anticipated events — Ryan Gosling singing the nominated power-balled “I’m Just Ken,” from “Barbie” — did not disappoint: Gosling posed and preened in a pink sequined suit and briefly draped an arm around the shoulder of his guitarist, Slash.

Four-time host Jimmy Kimmel stepped into his role with ease, an entertainment-industry insider who knew just how far to push his famous audience. Kimmel got the crowd to rally behind Greta Gerwig, who controversially failed to earn a directing nod for “Barbie,” then whipped out a skewer: “I know you’re clapping, but you’re the ones who didn’t vote for her, by the way.”

Kimmel also surely earned some goodwill by bringing out a few dozen backstage crew members — spiffed up in tuxes — and thanked them for standing behind the room’s many actors and writers during their recent strikes. And although Kimmel mostly steered clear of politics, he couldn’t resist a closing dig at Donald Trump, who slammed his hosting abilities in a real-time social media post. Noting the late hour, Kimmel addressed the former president: “Isn’t it past your jail time?”

Among the snubs at this Oscars: “Barbie,” last year’s top-grossing movie, took home only one Oscar, for Billie Eilish’s song “What Was I Made For?” Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” was shut out completely. And that movie’s star, Lily Gladstone, narrowly missed a chance to become the first Native American winner for Best Actress in the evening's most closely contested category.

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