Christopher Nolan and Cillian Murphy stand on precipice of Oscars glory

British director Christopher Nolan is on course to win his first Oscar on Sunday for his epic biopic Oppenheimer, while Irish actor Cillian Murphy is tipped to score the best actor prize.

Nolan’s ambitious telling of the story of J Robert Oppenheimer, the theoretical physicist described as the father of the atomic bomb, is considered the front runner to be named best picture.

Nolan is heavily tipped to win the directing prize, while Murphy, who plays the title role, is in pole position for the best actor gong.

British Academy Film Awards 2024
Christopher Nolan has already won two Baftas for the film (Ian West/PA)

He has faced strong competition from The Holdovers star Paul Giamatti, but has pulled ahead in the race in recent weeks with wins at the Baftas and Screen Actors Guild Awards.

It would be the first Oscar for the Cork-born Peaky Blinders star.

Nolan has only been nominated for the best directing gong once before, for Dunkirk in 2018, but has also never won an Oscar.

British Academy Film Awards 2024
Cillian Murphy also took home the Bafta (Ian West/PA)

He is also in the running for the adapted screenplay trophy, for his work adapting the Oppenheimer biography American Prometheus by Kai Bird and Martin J Sherwin, and the film is nominated for a raft of technical awards.

Nolan’s film The Dark Knight’s omission from the best picture race in 2009 is widely credited with spurring the Academy to expand the field from five films to up to 10.

He would be among those accepting the best picture gong on Sunday if Oppenheimer wins, as he is a producer on the film alongside his wife Emma Thomas.

Robert Downey Jr, who plays Lewis Strauss – head of the Atomic Energy Commission in the film, is thought to be unbeatable in the best supporting actor category, having won all major awards leading up to the ceremony.

British Academy Film Awards 2024
Robert Downey Jr is thought to be unbeatable (Ian West/PA)

US actress Da’Vine Joy Randolph is also considered to be a lock to win the best supporting actress prize for her turn as a grieving cook in the boarding school drama The Holdovers, in which Giamatti plays a grumpy teacher.

But there is still suspense in the best actress category, which is thought to be a dead heat between Emma Stone for Poor Things and Lily Gladstone for Killers Of The Flower Moon.

Stone has won a number of precursor awards, including the Bafta, and already has an Oscar for La La Land, but Gladstone’s win at the SAG awards means she is still very much in the race.

76th Cannes Film Festival
Lily Gladstone (Doug Peters/PA)

She would be the first Native American to win in the category.

The actress, a native of Montana’s Blackfeet reservation, has won critical acclaim for her role in Martin Scorsese’s western about the murders of wealthy members of the Osage tribe in the 1920s.

The Zone Of Interest, directed by English film-maker Jonathan Glazer, is likely to win the best international film prize for Great Britain.

The harrowing portrait of a family living in a house and garden next to Auschwitz is also nominated for best picture and best director.

Jimmy Kimmel will host the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

ITV will broadcast the ceremony in the UK this year, after the show moved from its former home on Sky Cinema.

ITV’s coverage will be presented by Jonathan Ross from 10.15pm on ITV1 and ITVX and live coverage from the Oscars red carpet presented by Ross King will air from 9pm on ITVX.