Film industry on cloud nine after record haul of Oscar nominations
"It's like an out of body experience," Lenny Abrahamson said as the news broke he'd landed a Best Director Oscar nomination for 'Room'.
"When I heard I couldn't stop laughing. It's something you dream of but never believe it can actually become a reality."
Emotions were running high yesterday as Irish talent scooped a record nine Academy Award nominations.
The good news comes after the Irish Film Board urged the government this week to double its state funding to €20mk.
Abrahamson's film 'Room', and 'Brooklyn' - starring Saoirse Ronan and directed by John Crowley - both got the nod in the Best Picture category and will go up against 'The Martian', 'The Revenant', 'The Big Short', 'Bridge of Spies' and 'Spotlight'. "It's a tough category, especially for two small independent Irish productions," Abrahamson said. "We had a fraction of the budget of the US films.
"The Revenant, for example, was made for €160m while Room was made for €12m. The fact they are in the same category is astounding."
Saoirse Ronan received her second nomination for her role as emigrant Eilis in the film adaptation of Colm Toibin's 2009 novel 'Brooklyn'.
The 21-year-old actress described the film as one of the "hardest" projects she has ever worked on. "It is the most personal film I have ever done, the hardest one too," she said. "This has all been a dream. To see how the film has been embraced has been heart-warming".
Golden Globe winner Brie Larson, the lead in 'Room', has been nominated for Best Actress alongside Cate Blanchett for 'Carol', Charlotte Rampling in '45 Years' and Jennifer Lawrence's depiction of the miracle mop millionaire 'Joy'. Author Emma Donoghue, who adapted her acclaimed novel 'Room' for the silver screen celebrated her nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay by tucking into French fancies.
"I'm not a drinker so I bought my favourite French pastry. I bought two of them and I thought, 'I can always console myself with them if there's no joy,'" she said.
Nick Hornby also landed a Best Adapted Screenplay nod for 'Brooklyn' but faces stiff competition from 'The Big Short', 'The Martian' and 'Carol'.
Kerryman Michael Fassbender was picked in the Best Actor category for his depiction of Apple boss Steve Jobs. He will go up against favourite Leonardo DiCaprio in 'The Revenant', Eddie Redmayne for 'The Danish Girl', Bryan Cranston in 'Trumbo', and Matt Damon in The Martian'.
Unfortunately Irish production 'Viva' missed out in the Best Foreign Language category but 'Stutterer' by Irish director Benjamin Cleary made the cut for best live action short. Last but not least, Irish makeup artist Catherine Biggs, from Dublin, is part of the make-up team that was nominated for an Oscar for 'Mad Max: Fury Road'.
The Irish Film Board, which funded both 'Room' and 'Brooklyn', described the nominations as a "triumph for Irish film."
"It's a staggering achievement for the Irish film industry to be recognised amongst the very best in the world," IFB chief executive James Hickey said.
"It's a day for the Irish film industry and the entire country to be very proud. It truly is a golden age for Irish film," he added.
Speaking to the Irish Independent last night, Oscar-nominated Lenny said he planned to celebrate with a beer or two. "I will go to a bar with the production team at Element Pictures and spend the whole night shaking my head in disbelief," he said.
"I really hope these nominations help the Irish government invest in talent.
"If we can obtain this many nominations on €11.5m, think what would be possible if we had double that."
The Academy Awards will be held on February 28 in the Dolby Theatre.
Asked if he was looking forward to the ceremony Lenny said: "I am. These things are usually quite boring till your category which is terrifying but the dresses and glamour is extraordinary."