Luck of the Irish? Ireland wins big with the 2023 Academy Award nominations

By Siobhan Elizabeth Ball

Elm Staff Writer

Following the highly anticipated release of the 2023 Oscar nominations, the Republic of Ireland is celebrating a record 14 nominations, including the first nomination for a feature film made in Gaelic, according to Reuters.

“Only the United States and Britain — with populations and film industries that dwarf Ireland’s — have been represented by five or more acting nominees in a single year in the awards’ near 100-year history,” Reuters said.

The population of the Republic of Ireland was calculated at an all-time high in April 2022, measuring at 5.1 million people — the first time it exceeded five million since 1851, according to figures released by the Irish Central Statistics Office. In comparison, according to the United States Census Bureau, the state of South Carolina roughly matched Ireland’s population at 5.2 million people in July 2022.

Daniel Day-Lewis is the only Irish citizen to win an Oscar for best actor. He was previously awarded for “My Left Foot” in 1989, “There Will Be Blood” in 2007, and “Lincoln” in 2012.

According to Insider, the actor currently holds the record for most Best Actor wins. Leo Varadkar, the Taoiseach, or prime minister, of Ireland, expressed his own pride at the nominations on Twitter.

“It is fantastic to see Irish creative talent achieving well deserved recognition on the world stage,” Varadkar said.

“The Banshees of Inisherin,” directed by Martin McDonagh and starring Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell, received nine nominations, including best picture, best actor, and best director.

According to CBS News, the film is a dark comedy that follows “two lifelong friends whose relationship suddenly grinds to a halt” set against the backdrop of the end of the Irish Civil War in 1923. It is loosely based on McDonagh’s 1996 play, “The Cripple of Inishmaan.”

Gleeson and Farrell’s on-screen chemistry in “The Banshees of Inisherin” is based off of their real-life long standing friendship, having previously worked together in McDonagh’s 2008 film “In Bruges.”

Breakout star of BBC’s “Normal People” Paul Mescal was also nominated for best actor for his performance in Charlotte Wells’ “Aftersun.”

Starring Paul Mescal and Frankie Corio, “Aftersun” is a drama exploring the complexities of the relationship between a young idealistic father and his daughter through her youth and adult years.

A film critic for The Observer called the film a “luminous father-daughter drama,” and said that director Charlotte Well’s “debut feature is a stylistically daring, emotionally piercing and beautifully understated tale of love and loss.”

The Irish language film, “An Cailin Ciuin,” or “The Quiet Girl,” was adapted from the novella “Foster” by Irish writer Claire Keegan. It is nominated for the Academy Award for best international feature film.

Director Colm Bairead told The Irish Times, “There was perhaps a notion out there that to make a film in the Irish language was a dead end creatively or commercially. I think that notion has been absolutely dispelled now.”

These nominations catapulted this relatively small but mighty nation into the sphere of Hollywood cinema.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Photo caption: Despite his popularity, this is the first Academy Award nomination for Irish actor Colin Farrell. His previous credits include films “In Bruges,” “Widows,”  “The Batman,”  and “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”

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