Hollywood needs to update its Irish stereotypes. Last weekend, US TV mainstay Saturday Night Live depicted Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson as unintelligible with the punchline: “Wow, and they haven’t even started drinking yet!”
Academy Awards host Jimmy Kimmel was also going heavy on the malarkey in his weak opening monologue. “We have five nominees from every corner of Dublin. Five Irish actors are nominated tonight, which means the chances of a fight just went way up.”
Let’s not quibble about Kerry Condon being from Tipperary and Paul Mescal hailing from Kildare. The key point is lost in the middle there. A quarter of the acting nominations at the Oscars went to Irish actors. The drunken Irish image is old hat. The cultured, talented and accomplished Irish is in vogue.
Our actors didn’t come away with the gongs but it was a terrific night for the Irish. Not only were there 14 nominations across the board, but an Irish-language film was up for Best International Feature. Oscars were taken home by the producers and actors of An Irish Goodbye, after it scooped the Best Live Action Short Film gong. For that achievement, congratulations are extended to Ross White, Tom Berkeley, Seamus O’Hara and James Martin.
It was also a special night for Dublin native Richard Baneham, who played a central role in Avatar: The Way of Water winning the Best Visual Effects award. It was Baneham’s second Oscar as he also won for the original Avatar film.
An Irish Goodbye had already won a Bafta award, so the Oscar was part of a winning streak. The sight of Tinseltown’s A-listers singing Happy Birthday to actor James Martin was truly uplifting.
Following the success of Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast – which was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won Best Original Screenplay – it can be said that this is a golden era for filmmaking across the island of Ireland.
Nominated for nine Oscars, The Banshees of Inisherin came away empty-handed. Nonetheless, the movie was a superb showcase of Irish acting, directing and production talent. Furthermore, the scenery of Achill Island provided a backdrop that no amount of CGI special effects could hope to match.
An Cailín Ciúin has put Irish language film-making on the map. When you consider it was up against the blockbuster big budgets of Netflix – which produced the Best International Feature, All Quiet on the Western Front – the achievement of being nominated is momentous.
First featured in the 1937 movie Hollywood Hotel, Hooray for Hollywood has been a frequently heard theme tune for the Academy Awards. On this occasion, it was ‘Hooray for the Irish’ at the Oscars.
Supreme young talents like Mescal, Barry Keoghan and Kerry Condon – along with previous nominees Saoirse Ronan and Jessie Buckley – continue to make an indelible mark on the movie industry. Ours is the land of saints, scholars and gifted filmmakers.