Saoirse Ronan Likely To Lose Out in Oscars Shakedown But Michael McDonagh Will Win!

As the clock counts down to the beginning of the Academy Awards ceremony, Irish hopes remain high. But only one winner seems assured…

It is the biggest night of the year in Hollywood! The Academy Awards are, without doubt, the jewel in the crown of the annual movie calendar – and this year, Irish film is well represented, with a number of potential Oscars on the line. But what are our hopes of coming away with a biggie or two?

Most Irish movie fans will be rooting for Saoirse Ronan (pictured), who is nominated for the Best Actress award, for her widely acclaimed, brilliantly realised turn as the eponymous hero in Lady Bird. However, the word on the Hollywood grapevine is that the winner is likely to come from a film with a different kind of Irish involvement. Frances McDormand is the favourite to fit this gong, for her truly extraordinary performance as the chief protagonist in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri – which is directed by the London Irish playwright, screenwriter and film director Martin McDonagh.

Three Billboards, which is one of the year’s biggest hits, is up for a number of awards. And the smart money also has it down as a likely winner of the Best Film award – though there is fierce competition here too with nine pictures all in the running. Of these, The Post (directed by Steven Spielberg) and The Shape of Water (directed by Guillermo del Toro) are probably the strongest other contenders. But the visceral power of McDonagh’s vision has captured hearts and minds and so there is a lot of hope – mixed with not a little conviction – that this can and should be his year.

Well, not entirely! McDonagh himself has not been nominated in the Best Director category, a crown which many feel should go to del Toro – though Christopher Nolan has to be in the running too for his superb treatment of the World War II epic, Dunkirk. Alternatively, this might be the category in which Lady Bird will prevail, with Greta Gerwig seeming like a real contender. Being a female director might not hurt on this occasion either...

The stakes in Best Actor seem, somehow, not to be as high. One of cinema’s thespian geniuses Daniel Day Lewis has to be in the running for his starring role in Phantom Thread. But the smart money here is on Gary Oldman, who does a magnificent turn as Winston Churchill in Dunkirk. We’d be very surprised at any other outcome.

If that sounds like the old issue of racial discrimination is likely to rear its head when the Oscars are done, well we’ll see. The ‘white’ dominance of the event is likely to disrupted at least once by Jordan Peele’s Get Out – nominated in four categories, it has institutionalised racism among its major themes. While the writer-director could sneak Best Director, there is greater likelihood that he will come through in the Best Original Screenplay category.

Other Irish interest is in the Best Animated Film category, in which The Breadwinner – directed by Nora Twomey and produced by Cartoon saloon in Kilkenny – has been nominated. The film was executive-produced by Angeline Jolie, adding to its credentials – though it will be hard for anyone to best the Golden Globe winning Coco, which has received rave reviews.

Meanwhile, costume designer Consolata Boyle picked up her third Academy Award nomination for her work on 'Victoria & Abdul'. She won't be there in person, according to reports, but that she would be a worthy winner goes without saying. Let's not hold our collective breath – Ireland might yet be disjointed – but here's to a great night for the Irish...


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