Christopher Nolan’s Peloton instructor really put him in some hot water after blasting one of his movies during a class.
The “Opphenheimer” director was recently awarded best director at the New York Film Critics Circle thanks to his latest movie, and he used his speech to address appreciation for the film’s critics.
“Directors have a complex emotional relationship with critics and criticism,” he told the audience during the Jan. 4 ceremony at New York City’s Tao Downtown. “A question we’re always asked is: Do we read reviews? Let’s start with the fact that I’m British. A typical family gathering will involve relatives saying to me, ‘You know, Christopher. You probably shouldn’t open The Guardian today.’”
Nolan summarized his appreciation for critics by telling a story about how he was once using his Peloton for a class only to have his instructor give such heat on one of his own projects.
The Oscar nominee did not disclose which film it was, but the instructor had no idea Nolan was indeed in attendance of the class.
“I was on my Peloton. I’m dying. And the instructor started talking about one of my films and said, ‘Did anyone see this? That’s a couple hours of my life I’ll never get back again!’” Nolan said. “When [film critic] Rex Reed takes a shit on your film he doesn’t ask you to work out! In today’s world, where opinions are everywhere, there is a sort of idea that film criticism is being democratized, but I for one think the critical appreciation of films shouldn’t be an instinct but it should be a profession.”
“What we have here tonight is a group of professionals who attempt objectivity,” Nolan continued, addressing the professional film critics in the room. “Obviously writing about cinema objectively is a paradox, but the aspirations of objectivity is what makes criticism vital and timeless and useful to filmmakers and the filmmaking community”
Nolan also admitted that he knew while making “Oppenheimer” that he would “have to make choices that risk misinterpretation.” Viewers had mixed reactions when the film did not show the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
“In today’s world, as filmmakers you can’t hide behind authorial intent,” Nolan concluded. “You can’t say, ‘This is what I intended.’ We live in a world where the person receiving the story has the right to say what it means to them. I for one love that. It means the work should speak for itself. It’s not about what I say it is. It’s about what you receive it to be. In that world, the role of the professional critic, or the interpreter and the person who tries to give context for the reader…it’s incredibly important. I’ve never been so grateful for careful, considered and thoughtful writing about one of my films as I was for ‘Oppenheimer.’”
“Oppenheimer” earned some of the best reviews of Nolan’s career (it has a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes from more than 400 reviews and an 89 score on Metacritic).
The film also went on to earn $954 million at the box office, being the highest biographical drama of all time.
“Oppenheimer” is now available to rent and own on VOD and digital platforms.