Audiences climb to nearly 20 million according to Oppenheimer rules

A still image of Oppenheimer. (courtesy: Youtube)

Victories for Oppenheimerlive musical performances from barbie and a (nearly) naked John Cena helped drive Oscar audiences for the third year in a row, according to initial viewing figures released Monday, as 19.5 million people watched the big Hollywood night. ABC's figure for Sunday night's much-criticised gala was nearly double the pandemic-era audience nadir of 10.4 million, though it remains historically low for a TV show that regularly topped the 40 million just ten years ago. Christopher Nolan's Atomic Bomb Drama Oppenheimer ended the 96th Academy Awards with seven awards, including best picture, best director and best actor for Cillian Murphy, while “Poor Things” took home four as its star Emma Stone won in a tense race for best actress.

Highlights of the evening included Ryan Gosling's live performance of barbie ballad I'm just Kenanother accomplished animation stint by Jimmy Kimmel, and wrestler/actor Cena's mock, reluctant presentation of the award for Best Costume Design while wearing only his birthday suit.

Other notable musical performances came from Billie Eilish: The 22-year-old became the youngest person to win two Oscars, after winning best song for another 'Barbie' track What was I made for? – and Native American musicians featured in Killers of the Flower Moon.

The upward ratings trend is a welcome boost for live awards shows, which have lost more viewers as they compete for eyeballs with streamers and social media highlight clips.

This year's Oscars benefited from two resounding successes – Oppenheimer And barbiethe so-called “Barbenheimer” phenomenon — up for several awards.

But the series itself also received plaudits, with the Los Angeles Times praising the “raucous, raucous Oscars” that managed to blend humor and a poignant celebration of cinema history – with a few political overtones thrown in to make good measure.

Among the millions of people who watched Sunday night's telecast was Donald Trump. The former US president, who faces multiple criminal charges, posted a scathing critique on social media, which Kimmel read on stage near the end of the show.

“Thank you President Trump. Thanks for watching, I'm surprised you're still standing – isn't your prison sentence over?” Kimmel joked, prompting loud cheers and laughter from the audience.

There were also heartfelt references to recent union strikes in Hollywood, the conflict in Gaza and the war in Ukraine.

The evening ended on a bizarre and confusing note, when Al Pacino revealed the Best Picture winner without first listing the nominees, as is his custom.

Opening the envelope, he muttered “Do my eyes see 'Oppenheimer?'”, leaving the audience momentarily confused as to whether the film had actually won. On Monday, Pacino released a statement saying the decision to keep the biggest announcement of the evening brief by not naming the other nominated films was made by the series' producers.

But on a rather quiet evening, Variety singled out Gosling's musical performance as “maximalist, infectious singing.”

The crowd-pleasing karaoke moment was “the perfect way to channel the feel-good energy of an Oscars ceremony where none of the attendees felt forced, as is often the case,” said the film industry website.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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