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I Genuinely Can't Watch The 2024 Best Picture Nominees The Same Way Again After Reading These 21 Facts

There are obviously some massive spoilers ahead for Oppenheimer, Barbie, Poor Things, The Holdovers, Anatomy of a Fall, American Fiction, Killers of the Flower Moon, Maestro, Past Lives, and The Zone of Interest.

1.First, in Oppenheimer, in order to recreate the Trinity nuclear test explosion, Christopher Nolan didn't want to use CGI. So, the special effects team built a tower, which included "about 60 gallons of gasoline with some high explosives." They detonated the gasoline, then set off a rig with aluminum powder "for some bright flash." Then, the mortar at the bottom was detonated, which was made up of gasoline, diesel, and black powder, which created the mushroom cloud.

Screenshots from "Oppenheimer"

2.Also in Oppenheimer, the production team recreated Los Alamos on a 21,000-acre ranch in New Mexico. Originally, production designer Ruth De Jong mapped out how to build the entirety of Los Alamos for the film, but it proved to be too expensive. So, the scenes were filmed using a mix of exteriors that were built and the interiors at the real Los Alamos.

Screenshot from "Oppenheimer"

Combining the exterior sets with the real interiors allowed the actors to be fully immersed in the world and time period. "It really impacted them and put them in a great mindset. We wanted to transport them back in time," Ruth recalled.

Melinda Sue Gordon / Universal Pictures / Everett Collection

3.In Barbie, the memorable moment when Barbie takes off her shoes for the first time and we see her arched feet was accomplished by having Margot Robbie walk up, her shoes would stick to double-sided tape on the floor, and then she was holding a bar positioned off camera so she could arch her feet. She said it took "probably about eight takes" to accomplish.

Screenshots from "Barbie"

She explained, "And I was holding on to, like, a bar. I wasn't [in] a harness or anything like that. I just walked up, kind of held on to the bar above camera."

Warner Bros

4.Also in Barbie, when Barbie, Ken, Gloria, Sasha, and the Mattel employees travel back and forth from Barbie Land to the Real World and vice versa, the transition montages were all filmed practically using old-school movie magic and not CGI. Barbie elected to build the sets and backdrops, which helped give the two-dimensional feeling that's seen in the finished scenes.

Behind the scenes of "Barbie"

5.For Poor Things, the cast rehearsed together for three weeks before filming began. They played theater games together, hung out, and learned to trust each other, so by the time filming started, they were very comfortable together, according to Emma Stone. This time period is also when Emma and director Yorgos Lanthimos experimented and found Bella Baxter's walk.

Behind the scenes of "Poor Things"

6.Also in Poor Things, Bella Baxter's now iconic hair was a combination of Emma's dyed jet-black hair and extensions because Bella's hair "grows at a rapid pace throughout the film." At her hair's longest, hair, makeup, and prosthetics designer Nadia Stacey said she added "42 inches" of extensions.

Screenshot from "Poor Things"

7.The Holdovers marks Dominic Sessa's first professional acting role, and he found out he had been cast while he was a high school senior at Deerfield Academy. In fact, portions of The Holdovers were filmed at Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts, so Dominic returned to his high school to film his first big movie during the school's spring break.

Screenshot from "The Holdovers"

Speaking about returning to his school, Dominic said his dorm wasn't like he left it. He said, “Some of my friends on my hall sort of converted it while I was gone. My room became a big bedroom, and then my other friend’s room became a kitchen and a gaming room."

Focus Features / Everett Collection

8.Also in The Holdovers, Da'Vine Joy Randolph created "a look book with more than 200 images of women's hairstyles from the time" while preparing to play Mary. Notably, she took inspiration from The Jeffersons, namely Weezy Jefferson, and Helen Willis. Da'Vine also worked extensively with dialect coach Thom Jones to perfect her Boston accent.

Screenshot from "The Holdovers"

9.In Anatomy of a Fall, Messi, the Border Collie who plays Snoop, trained for two months prior to filming to be able to convincingly depict the scene where Snoop is catatonic. While Messi already knew how to play dead before being cast, he had to work with trainers to perfect how to continue playing while being carried.

Border Collie peering over edge, scene from a TV show or movie

10.Also in Anatomy of a Fall, the use of "P.I.M.P." by 50 Cent wasn't the film's "first choice for the song," according to director and cowriter Justine Triet. Originally, she wanted to use "Jolene" by Dolly Parton, but they couldn't secure the rights.

Screenshot from "Anatomy of a Fall"

"We’d even written specific dialogue for the later courtroom scenes that analyzed the lyrics of that song, like ‘please don’t take my man,’ that we had to get rid of," she added. "P.I.M.P." was found because Justine had a lyric-free version of the song on her computer.

Neon / Everett Collection

11.And in Anatomy of a Fall, in order to capture the intimacy and importance of the scene between Sandra and Samuel where they argue, Justine Triet explained they filmed with two cameras so as to not "lose any of their energy." The duo are also "never filmed in the same frame" except in the very beginning of the nearly 10-minute scene.

Screenshots from "Anatomy of a Fall"

12.The original working title for American Fiction, which was on the script when director and writer Cord Jefferson sent it around, was Fuck. He loved the title but eventually changed it after a producer said when people google, "Fuck movie," this film will not pop up. He came up with the idea of using "American" in the title after reading a poem by Langston Hughes.

Screenshot from "American Fiction"

13.Also, Sterling K. Brown, who is nominated for his first Oscar for his work in American Fiction, said he was searching for a role that was very different from Randall Pearson on This Is Us. He explained how his American Fiction character fit this mold, saying, "Cliff was a lovely sort of comedic foil. He's also a person who needs to be dealt with rather than the person who's dealing with everything."

Screenshot from "American Fiction"

He added, "It’s kind of nice to be the dude that has to be dealt with."

MGM / Everett Collection

14.Killers of the Flower Moon was initially written to be from the point of view of the FBI investigating the Osage County murders, which "had reduced Mollie to [about] three scenes," according to Lily Gladstone. Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio, who was originally going to play FBI agent Tom White, realized the story wasn't working with "the approach from the outside in," so they reworked the script with Leo switching roles and playing Mollie's husband.

Screenshot from "Killers of the Flower Moon"

15.Aside from Mollie's costumes in Killers of the Flower Moon, Lily Gladstone said she "found" Mollie in "the language first." She learned how to speak Osage like a native speaker for the film. In fact, Lily eventually asked for some of her scenes that were written in English to be translated into Osage.

Screenshot from "Killers of the Flower Moon"

16.In Maestro, Bradley Cooper spent the last six years working with leading conductors Gustavo Dudamel and Yannick Ségui to prepare for the scene when Leonard Bernstein conducts Gustav Mahler's Resurrection Symphony at Ely Cathedral. The scene was filmed in the real cathedral and is "largely in a single, six-minute take." There was a live orchestra, choir, an audience of extras, and Bradley conducted the piece live on camera.

Screenshots from "Maestro"

After seeing a YouTube video of Bernstein conducting the piece in Ely Cathedral, Bradley knew he wanted this to be "that pillar of the movie." So, he started researching and was able to shadow Gustavo Dudamel when he rehearsed and prepared to conduct the piece with the LA Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl.

Netflix

17.Bradley Cooper first approached Carey Mulligan about playing Felicia Montealegre in Maestro the same night she sustained a head injury while performing on stage in Girls & Boys. Bradley, who was at the show, came backstage to talk to Carey, found her crying on the floor, checked if she was okay, and then rushed her to an urgent care. "We had a kind of dramatic bonding moment, in retrospect," Carey said.

Screenshot from "Maestro"

18.In Past Lives, although she spoke Korean growing up, Greta Lee was nervous to have to speak the language in the movie. Instead of working with a dialect coach that would give her the "perfect South Korean" accent, she actually worked with Sharon Choi, who is best known for being director Bong Joon-ho's Korean to English translator during the 2019–2020 awards season when Parasite was nominated.

Screenshot from
Screenshot from
Bong Joon-ho accepting an award with Sharon Choi translating for him
Bong Joon-ho accepting an award with Sharon Choi translating for him

A24 / Everett Collection, Jeff Kravitz / FilmMagic / Getty Images

"The thing with her is she could translate, in the moment, jokes, which to me was something that is required," Greta added. Working with Sharon allowed Greta to show this "whole spectrum of this human experience" that isn't perfect or "flat." She wanted to showcase how when we first hear Nora speak Korean she sounds more like "a white girl," but after hours of talking to Hae Sung, she would sound "more Korean."

19.Also in Past Lives, the final scene where Nora and Hae Sung are standing waiting for his Uber to arrive, he leaves, and she walks back into her life with Arthur, was done in one long, six-minute take. They filmed on location in the East Village in NYC on a Friday night, which was a challenge in itself. Greta Lee and Teo Yoo also never knew when the Uber would actually enter the scene.

Screenshots from "Past Lives"

20.The Zone of Interest filmed near the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland, with the Höss house being recreated using a rundown home "just beyond the camp's perimeter wall." The actual home has reportedly been a private residence since the end of the war, so it was not available to use for filming.

Screenshot from "The Zone of Interest"

Filming took place in the summer of 2021, with the production crew planting the garden in April so everything was flowered by the time filming began.

A24 / Everett Collection

21.And finally, in The Zone of Interest, director and writer Jonathan Glazer had multiple stationary cameras running simultaneously throughout the Höss house, so the actors had a lot of freedom to improvise. This meant there was limited crew inside, and Jonathan was even outside in "a shipping container decked out with monitors," so he could watch the scenes unfold.

Screenshot from "The Zone of Interest"