Hollywood welcomes Ireland’s ‘Green Wave’

Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell, left, have both been nominated for their roles in “The Banshees of Inisherin.” (Associated Press)

With 14 nominations this season, mainly thanks to The Banshees of Inisherin, Ireland’s already proud tradition of Academy Award prominence has reached new heights. This is especially significant considering that Daniel Day-Lewis, a dual citizen of Ireland and England, remains the only man to have received three lead actor Oscars.

Take, for example, the fact that “The Banshees of Inisherin” received a whopping nine nominations, while the Irish-language film “The Quiet Girl” (“An Cailín Ciúin”) has been selected as one of the international feature film nominees, and “An Irish Goodbye” is in the running for Best Live Action Short Film. Furthermore, some of the most notable individuals in the industry have received nominations, including actors Paul Mescal for his role in “Aftersun,” as well as Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon, and Barry Keoghan, the primary cast of “The Banshees of Inisherin.” In addition, Jonathan Redmond, editor of the film “Elvis,” and Richard Baneham, visual effects supervisor for “Avatar: The Way of Water,” have also been recognized with nominations.

“Banshees” writer-director Martin McDonagh describes its success in an article in the LA Times as “beyond my understanding; the connection people have found, the discourse and reaction. It’s almost like it’s not mine at all anymore.”

The nominations for his four actors are what excite him the most. He considers Farrell and Gleeson to be among Ireland’s current “top four” actors, and he believes Keoghan is already there as well. As for Kerry Condon, he has been watching her work in theater and film for two decades and recognizes her brilliance. In fact, he believes that there is no one else he would rather hire than her, not just in Ireland, but in the world.

Ross White and Tom Berkeley, who wrote, directed, and produced the film “An Irish Goodbye,” credit their presence at the party to their idol, Martin McDonagh. “We’ve always loved Martin McDonagh, from the early plays. That really got us into writing for theater,” explains White. The inspiration for their short film, which depicts two brothers (James Martin and Seamus O’Hara) dealing with the death of their mother, came from a pair of bickering siblings Berkeley had observed at a soccer game, one of whom had Down syndrome. If Martin, an experienced actor with Down syndrome, had not committed to the project, the film might have never come to fruition. But he was drawn to the complex relationship between the two brothers, and it became clear that he was a lucky charm for the film, especially since the Academy Awards ceremony fell on his 31st birthday. Martin stresses that “anyone can act,” regardless of whether they have Down syndrome, autism, or any other disability.

Writer-director Colm Bairéad and his wife, producer Cleona Ní Chrualaoí, were faced with the daunting task of finding the perfect actress to play the titular role in their Irish-language film, “The Quiet Girl.” They scoured hundreds of auditions but were unable to find someone who fit the bill until 11-year-old Catherine Clinch walked through their door. “We were like, ‘Oooh yes! It was a small miracle,” says Ní Chrualaoí. Carrie Crowley, who played the adult female lead in the film, was also a natural fit for the project, given her passion for the Irish language and her connection to the source material, Claire Keegan’s novella “Foster.”

Crowley is overjoyed to see the “Green Wave rolling into Hollywood” and is proud that this “beautiful film” has resonated with audiences around the world, regardless of their age, race, gender, or socioeconomic status. Kerry Condon, who was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role in “Banshees,” praises Crowley’s “real elegance,” noting that sometimes a subtle performance can be more challenging to pull off. Condon even hosted a Q&A for “The Quiet Girl” to show her support for the film, explaining that “a rising tide raises all boats, and I found it really moving. I was bawling.”

Ní Chrualaoí believes that there was something greater at work in bringing the project to fruition, saying that “there was something so meant to be about this whole thing.” Bairéad emphasizes the “timelessness” of the films being discussed, noting that they are not necessarily part of the current cultural conversation but share a certain enduring quality in the Irish context.

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