Chris Nolan says Oppenheimer is best on Blu-Ray because streaming sucks – he’s got a point

Oppenheimer movie still
(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

When it comes to movie audio, Christopher Nolan can be a bit of a divisive figure: the man largely credited with introducing the current age of almost inaudible and/or unintelligible movie dialog is also a purist about audio quality – he takes his soundtracks incredibly seriously. 

His latest movie, Oppenheimer, is no exception. While it's going to be available to stream on Peacock, Nolan reckons that if you want the best possible audio experience, you should buy it on Blu-ray and watch it on one of the best 4K Blu-ray players (ideally, we'd say, with one of the best TVs and best soundbars too). 

Nolan was speaking at a special LA screening of the movie, when he took what Variety describes as a "playful swipe" at the best streaming services during the Q&A. He said that he and his team put a lot of time and energy into the movie to create "a version you can buy and own at home and put on a shelf so no evil streaming service can come steal it from you".

He's got a point.

Opinion: Blu-ray is still the best buy for movie buffs

After years of doing streaming-only, I'm back on the Blu-ray bus (and the vinyl one too). There are several reasons for that, and they're all negative ones around streaming. 

The first and most obvious one is that movies and streaming are not together forever. When I was writing an article earlier about great thrillers on Netflix, I had to change some of my choices because they're either not streaming any more or because they're not streaming in the US or UK any more. Shows and movies come and go all the time, and not just on Netflix. There have been a few times on all the major streamers when I've gone to show my kids a film only to discover that it's now in the pay-extra-to-watch section or not there at all.

The second issue is cost. I'm getting pretty tired of streaming services turning a big wheel marked "price rises" at the same time as they reduce the utility of their services and in some cases, the breadth of their catalogs. When you consider that tons of Blu-rays are cheaper to buy second hand than the films are to rent for a night, that's a double whammy against streaming. And for me there's a related benefit: I co-parent, so my kids only live with me half the time. If I want to lend a movie to my eldest so she can watch it at her mum's, I don't need to pay for it a second time. With streaming, I do.

The third issue is the one that Nolan cares about and I tend to agree. Blu-rays both looks and sounds better. On-demand streaming is compressed, and while it's better than it used to be the audio is still roughly comparable to Dolby Digital from the 1990s, a standard that's long since been bettered. 

More modern formats such as DTS and DTS-HD transmit much more data and deliver a much more nuanced performance as a result. If you've got a serious home cinema system, you'll notice a serious difference. You can even work out what Bane's saying to Batman.

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Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.