Barbenheimer emerged because Barbie and Oppenheimer had the same release date of July 21, 2023. There was an attempt by some media outlets to frame this as a showdown, but the culture collectively rose up, rejected the competition narrative, and turned Barbenheimer into a phenomenon that benefitted both films. However, the Golden Globes were last night, Oscar nominations begin at the end of the week, and the showdown is here for real, because both films can’t win the same awards, and if the Globes are anything to go by, Team Barbie probably needs to brace for some disappointment.
Out of nine nominations, Barbie only won two, one for Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell for their song, “What Was I Made For?”, and one for the newly minted category “Cinematic and Box Achievement”, which Lainey dubbed the “people’s choice award” of the Globes, which clearly gave the new Globes’ voters an out from seriously considering Barbie for Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy. That’s the problem with subdividing film awards, it doesn’t make for more challenging considerations, it just gives voters a chance to turn anything they don’t consider “serious” into a second-class citizen (see also: documentaries, animated films).
Oppenheimer, meanwhile, had a very good night. Of eight nominations, they picked up five wins, including acting awards for Robert Downey, Jr. and Cillian Murphy, Best Original Score for Ludwig Göransson, Best Director for Christopher Nolan, and Best Motion Picture, Drama.
This is very likely a preview for the Oscars, where Barbie and Oppenheimer will potentially be going head-to-head in numerous categories, including, now, Best Adapted Screenplay, because the Academy recently ruled Barbie is an adaptation of previously existing “characters” (the dolls). RDJ, gracious in victory, had a little moment with Ryan Gosling during the show:
I genuinely don’t like comparing these films, they’re very different, even though they do succeed at many of the same things (artistic design, direction, ensemble acting, music, editing), but the Oscars don’t delineate between comedies and dramas, and the disrespect for comedy is real, so, if you’re Team Barbie, just get ready for a reality in which Barbie banks 10+ nominations and walks away with only one or two trophies (Best Original Song is their surest bet). It’s basically a repeat of what happened with Top Gun: Maverick last year, in that the Oscars don’t reflect popular taste, or acknowledge a phenomenon, although do not forget—Oppenheimer was also hugely successful. It is a popular movie!
As for fashion, at one point during our live chat on The Squawk—thanks to everybody who participated!—Lainey asked if Team Oppy “could have a sense of humor”, and I think this reflected in their clothes, too. Robert Downey, Jr. was relatively subdued in a wine-red suit with a black shirt—would have preferred a lighter contrast there, personally—and Cillian Murphy wore a little fancy boy collar with his tux, but Florence Pugh (in sheer Valentino, naturally) is the only real fashionista at that table. Emily Blunt was a huge miss for me in a gold and sheer dress that, frankly, looks like a Holiday Barbie outfit. Although shoutout to John Krasinski for doing a red tux better than RDJ. Still, they look like Holiday Barbie and Ken.
As for our actual Barbie and Ken, well, are we getting thoroughly sick of Margot Robbie in pink? This is a solid dress in and of itself, by Armani, with a sequined tulle stole referencing 1977’s Superstar Barbie.
Is it her best look? No, but one imagines she and her stylist, Andrew Mukamal, are saving that for the Oscars. But I’m with Lainey, I hope she gives pink a rest for the next few events. Ryan Gosling, meanwhile, wore a black suit with white piping and a matching, open-collared shirt. It’s like, classy sleazy? But also sort of fancy pajamas?
Simu Liu, meanwhile, wore a classic tux with a little bling on the lapel. He presented with Issa Rae, who was Duana’s pick for best dressed in a stunning copper metallic gown by Pamella Roland. On this night, I am giving the nod to Simu and Issa as the superior Barbie and Ken pairing, they just look SO stunning, and both very well styled.
Director Barbie herself, Greta Gerwig, wore a black satin gown with opera gloves. It’s very “dahling, welcome to the dinner pah-tee”. Her collaborator and husband, Noah Baumbach, looked better suited to the Oppenheimer table in a standard tux, and Hari Nef and Dua Lipa sort of blended into one red-headed figure in a black dress. Finneas also wore plain black, but Billie Eilish wore an outfit (by Willy Chavarria) best described as “what if Talking Heads did prep school?”.
Overall, this was probably a preview night for the next couple months of awards season—Barbenheimer everywhere, Oppenheimer collecting more trophies, but Barbie delivering better fashion. Maybe the real Barbenheimer are the best dressed lists we make along the way.