For months many moviegoers have had July 21st marked off in their calendars whether that be for Director Greta Gerwig’s Barbie or Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer. Despite the fact that both of these huge films were set to premier the same day there was never any sense of rivalry. Gerwig and lead, Margo Robbie, posed in front of an Oppenheimer poster with tickets they had purchased in support of their colleagues in the industry Social media quickly took over creating memes about the films and deeming this double feature Barbenheimer. So for many, the question wasn’t which movie to see, but which one to see first.
Would you rather watch? A fun film starring Margo Robbie and Ryan Gosling playing live action Barbie and Ken dolls who have to venture into the real world? Or maybe a dark historical narrative directed by Nolan where Cillian Murphy plays the father of the atomic bomb, J. Robert Oppenheimer?
With much consideration, I chose to start off my double feature with Gerwig’s Barbie, who’s filmography includes instant classic’s like Lady Bird and Little Women (2019) . We’re quickly introduced to ‘Stereotypical Barbie’ (Robbie) and Ken (Gosling). Alongside the other inhabitants of Barbieland played by an ensemble cast with Issa Rae, Simu Liu, Emma Makey, Michael Cera.
Robbie and Gosling were clearly the perfect pick to play the stereotypical Barbie and Ken dolls that we grew up with. Not only did they both look the part but they were a dynamic duo that I didn’t know I needed until now, how this is the first time we have seen the pair side by side on the silver screen is beyond me. Gosling was reluctant even to join the project; but Robbie promised him with pink wrapped presents that would help inspire his Ken character as a bribe and he happily accepted. Their chemistry was absolutely amazing and I hope that we get to see them act together again soon (without having to be bribed).
This film has all the fun and good vibes that I hoped for while also addressing important topics as small as self worth or as big as misogyny. America Ferrera’s monologue at the end of the film had me wanting to give her a standing ovation; I was truly moved.
Overall it is such a fun girl power movie with a seriously amazing soundtrack including artists such as Dua Lipa, Nicki Minaj, and Ice Spice. Not to mention Gosling’s killer ballad “I’m Just Ken”. It’s not a lie when I say I walked out of that theater laughing, I highly recommend seeing Barbie this summer.
Now for the complete 180° Oppenheimer
A clear contender for movie of the year is Oppenheimer, and I don’t say that lightly. Nolan does an incredible job at capturing the fear of the American people during a devastating time in world history and the new uncertainty that was brewing during the trials in the following years. He tells these stories simultaneously using black and white film to capture the objective reality of history, and color film to show Oppenhiermer’s own subjective reality during this life changing moment.
This film marks Murphy’s sixth film with director Nolan, the pair’s filmography includes Dunkirk, Inception, and The Dark Knight trilogy. The ensemble cast of their latest film is full of huge names such as Florence Pugh, Robert Downey Jr., Emily Blunt, Rami Malik, and Matt Damon, just to name a few.
During World War II, Oppenheimer is given the incredibly time sensitive, and seemingly impossible task, of creating the most devastating bomb mankind has ever seen. The emotion and energy is palpable, as the stakes seem to keep getting raised. Though the stark shift comes when it is announced that the bomb was successful in its deadly internet.
Many of us grew up watching Josh Peck and Devon Bostick, who play Kenneth Bainbridge and Seth Neddermeyer respectively. It was interesting and they both did a great job. Neddermeyer’s reaction in the aftermath of the dropping of the bomb was one that stuck with me personally.
The black and white judicial hearing in the aftermath of a post-atomic bomb world where government trials are being held to determine if Oppenheimer’s government clearance should be revoked as well as the hearing of Strauss (Downey Jr.) to become the secretary of commerce. Both men struggled for power, but history will tell you that in a way, they both lost. Oppenheimer’s clearance was revoked but years later Strauss’s actions towards Oppenheimer would be his own downfall as the senate rejected him after a particularly shocking speech by David Hill (Malik).
At the end of the day, Oppenheimer was a great film with an extensive amount of suspense that kept me at the edge of my seat. This double feature definitely lived up to all the hype. Whether you watch them back to back or days apart both of these movies are must sees in my eyes.