The direction of "Oppenheimer" by Christopher Nolan earns him his first Academy Award.  

Los Angeles — On Sunday night, Christopher Nolan won his first Oscar for directing “Oppenheimer” and another for best picture.

Despite critical praise, the 53-year-old British visionary has never won an Oscar. Nominated for directing “Dunkirk” in 2017, original screenplay for “Inception” in 2010, and “Memento” in 2001. “Winning this recognition from my peers is the icing on the cake,” he remarked backstage. It's crucial to me. A great way to end a great year.”

Nolan added a second Oscar when “Oppenheimer” won best picture, one of seven Oscars it won, including best actor for Cillian Murphy and supporting actor for Robert Downey Jr. A leading 13 nominations, the picture grossed nearly $1 billion globally.

Nolan said, “It means I can do curls,” holding an Oscar. “They’re heavy.” Nolan thanked the Academy onstage, noting that movies are little over 100 years old. “We don’t know where this incredible journey is going from here,” he remarked. "But to know that you think I'm important means everything to me."

Nolan defeated Jonathan Glazer of “The Zone of Interest,” Yorgos Lanthimos of “Poor Things,” Martin Scorsese of “Killers of the Flower Moon,” and Justine Triet of “Anatomy of a Fall.”Scorsese was the oldest director nominee at 81.

Emma Thomas, Nolan's wife, cheered him on. They shared best picture nominations for producing “Dunkirk” and “Inception.” He has produced all his films with his college sweethearts since 1997. From the Governors Ball, the Academy's post-show party, the couple intended to celebrate with their children.

Nolan led awards season, winning the Directors Guild of America award and BAFTA and Golden Globes. In addition to directing, Nolan was nominated for adapted screenplay and best picture for “Oppenheimer,” a three-hour, ambitious, R-rated epic about the atomic bomb inventor.

“From the global response to ‘Oppenheimer,’ which far exceeded our expectations, there were so many things that came together for us on this film,” Nolan added. Instead of studios, the auteur director uses documentary lighting, hand-held cameras, and on-location shooting. Numerous critics, including Scorsese, have lauded Nolan for making “beautifully made films on a big scale.”

His other credits include “Tenet,” “Interstellar,” and the Batman trilogy of “Batman Begins,” “The Dark Knight,” and “The Dark Knight Rises.”

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