WINTER 2018 / VOL. 18 ISSUE 1
Irish Movie News

Film Awards Season in Full Swing

By James Bartlett

Happy New Year to one and all, and I hope you had a relaxing, safe and fun holiday! Here in Hollywood the awards season has really started to kick in, and the better movies are coming out (or rather, the ones that might take home a trophy or three). 

The Golden Globe and SAG awards are out – among many others – as well, and as usual there was good news for Irish and Irish-American talent. 

Getting lots of nods in both was Martin McDonagh, whose black comic drama Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, focuses on a grieving mother (played by Frances McDormand) who posts a provocative message to local sheriffs about their failure to bring anyone to account for her daughter’s murder. 

"Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" dominated the 75th Golden Globe Awards, earning four awards including best drama and screenplay. Frances McDormand, who captured a best actress prize for playing a vengeful mother in Three Billboards, Sam Rockwell picked up a best supporting actor statue for his work as a racist cop in Three Billboards.

At the Golden Globes it has been nominated for best screenplay and best director – drama – for McDonagh, as well as best picture, best original score, best actress (McDormand) and actor (Sam Rockwell), and they’re all certain to be in the running for the Oscars as well. 

Born in London, England, to Irish parents, McDonagh is known for this Irish-themed plays and movies, and of course was nominated as writer before for In Bruges (2009) and has already won an Oscar in fact – for his short Six Shooter in 2006. 

Rockwell was up against an awards monster at the Globes though: Daniel Day-Lewis, the English-born Irish citizen, was nominated for his performance in The Phantom Thread, the new movie from Paul Thomas Anderson (and apparently Day-Lewis’s last). 

The 24th Screen Actors Guild awards also gave the most recognition to Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, with nods again for McDormand and Rockwell, though fellow performer Woody Harrelson was battling against his on-screen partner Rockwell for the win in the Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role. 

The final chance in their quartet is as Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, and they brought this one home – bearing in mind all the main cast are nominated too. They were up against tough competition from hipster favorite The Big Sick, the much-acclaimed Lady Bird, period race drama Mudbound and social horror Get Out. 

Another nominee for the Globes – and doubtless for the Oscars too – was actress Saoirse Ronan, who was bought up in Ireland from the age of 3, but was actually born in New York. 

Ronan, 23, was nominated for her role in Lady Bird, a coming-of-age comedy-drama which also saw several Globe nods as best comedy/musical, best screenplay for writer/director Greta Gerwig, and for Laurie Metcalf as Supporting Actress. 

As is often the case in these multiple ceremonies, the SAG nominations mirrored the nods for Ronan and Metcalf (though not for Gerwig, as there are no categories at the SAGs for writing or directing). 

In the best animated feature category at the Globes, Cork-born writer/director Norah Twomey received a nomination for Breadwinner, a Mulan-type story based on the best-selling book by Deborah Ellis, and for which the pre-production and design work was done in Ireland. The Irish indie is also one of the leading film nominees at the 45th annual Annie Awards devoted to all facets of animation. The cartoon has 10 nominations, with winners announced Feb. 3. The Annie Awards are handed out by the Los Angeles branch of the International Animated Film Association, ASIFA-Hollywood.

The thoughtful story follows teenager Parvana (voiced by Saara Chaudry), who is forced to dress up as a boy to provide for the family when her father is torn from them in war-torn 2001 Afghanistan. It mixes 2D and cutout animation, and had Angelina Jolie (whose directorial effort First They Killed My Father was nominated in the foreign language category) serving as an active executive producer.

Twomey will probably get an Oscar nod too, and she’s been there before as co-director of the hit Irish animation The Secret of Kells, which was nominated in 2009 but lost out that year to Disney heartbreaker Up

As ever though, this category is a tough one: Breadwinner is up against current hit Coco, as well as Ferdinand, Boss Baby and Loving Vincent. I suspect Twomey will come home empty-handed here and at the Oscars too, if she makes it.

Moving into the television categories at the Globes, and aside from Northern Ireland-filmed "Game of Thrones" getting its regular nomination in the best television series – drama – category, there was also another nomination for Dublin-born actress Catriona Balfe for her work on time travel historical show "Outlander." 

Last year, she was beaten in the best actress (drama) by Claire Foy (for The Crown), and she was up against SAG winner Foy again this year. 

Game of Thrones fared better with the SAGs, getting the regularly-expected nominations for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Drama Series, and for Peter Dinklage (who also has a bit part in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, believe it or not) as best Male Actor in a Drama Series.

Actress Kirsten Bell with host the SAG Awards on Jan. 21 – aired live on TNT and TBS and was relied on for a few memorable moments – while the Golden Globes was be over by then, taking place in Beverly Hills on Janu. 7.

The nominations for the big ones – the Oscars – come a couple of days after the SAGs (though voting will have closed long before that), but the actual ceremony takes place on March 4 in Los Angeles’ Dolby Theatre.

The host for the Oscars again this year is Jimmy Kimmel, and he’ll surely mention the disaster last year, when the wrong movie (La La Land) was announced as Best Picture when the actual champion was Moonlight. He’ll joke about it for sure – and also be silently praying that nothing like it happens again.

Finally, we raise a glass of consolation to Song of Granite. Directed and written by Pat Collins, along with Eoghan Mac Giolla Bhríde and Sharon Whooley, it tells the life story of Joe Heaney, the legendary singer of traditional Irish music knows as sean nós.

It was the official entrant for Ireland in the Foreign Language category at the Oscars – but it didn’t make the shortlist. Maybe next time!


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