In a huge Oscars boost, "Oppenheimer" rules the BAFTAs.

Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas after winning the Best Director and Best Film awards for Oppenheimer in the press room during the BAFTA Film Awards at the Royal Festival Hall in London, Britain, 18 February 2024. The ceremony is hosted by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA). EPA/ANDY RAIN

"Oppenheimer," Christopher Nolan's epic film about the building of the atomic bomb, swept the board at Sunday's BAFTA Film Awards in London, sending a strong message ahead of the Oscars next month.

The film won seven awards in all, including Best Film, Best Director for Nolan, Best Actor for Cillian Murphy, and Best Supporting Actor for Robert Downey, Jr.

Murphy plays J. Robert Oppenheimer, a US theoretical physicist known as the "father of the atomic bomb" who was plagued by the repercussions of his invention.

The picture has made more than $1 billion, won many Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards, and is now the obvious leader for Oscar glory.

Murphy's first BAFTA, he praised Nolan for "seeing something in me I probably didn't see in myself" as he accepted the trophy at the presentation in London's Royal Festival Hall.

He subsequently told reporters that the success was "mind-blowing," and that he was "thrilled and a little surprised."

Despite his multiple commercial hits, including "Inception" and "The Dark Knight," Nolan has never won the Best Director BAFTA.

It was Downey Jr.'s second BAFTA, having won the Best Actor award 31 years ago for his role as Charlie Chaplin.

Accepting the prize, the US star quipped that Nolan encouraged him to take a low-key approach to the character of Lewis Strauss, a member of the US Atomic Energy Commission, in order to recover "my dwindling credibility". /BGNES-AFP