Ireland will be well-represented at this year’s Academy Awards ceremony, which is to take place on Sunday, February 26 at Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre.
Two Irish filmmakers, Peter McDonald and Terry George, have been nominated for the live-action shorts, Pentecost and The Shore, respectively. Pentecost is stage and film actor McDonald’s directorial debut. Shot in Dublin and Wicklow, the 11-minute short tells the story of a young altar boy who is offered the chance to redeem himself after an embarrassing incident (he knocked a priest off the altar) by serving at an important Mass. Structured like a sports movie, the film’s pivotal scene shows the sacristan giving a pep talk to a group of altar boys lined up on a bench.
The Shore is a comedy-drama about a man, played by Ciaran Hinds, returning home to Northern Ireland with his American daughter for the first time since fleeing to the U.S. during the Troubles. George, who has received acclaim in the past for his feature-length films Hotel Rwanda and In the Name of the Father, told the LA Times that the film deals with “the reconciliation side of [the Troubles] … So this little story, for me, has the sense that I have of Northern Ireland now, that people have moved on and want the communication to begin.” Shot in Killough, County Down, the project is extremely personalfor George, making its Oscar nomination all the more exciting. Free from studio involvement, the half-hour film was co-produced by his daughter, and features local residents and extended family members as extras. Both short films opened for a limited theatrical release on February 10th via ShortsHD and Magnolia Pictures.
Also hailing from Northern Ireland is Belfast-born Kenneth Branagh, who has been nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Lawrence Olivier in the biographical film My Week with Marylin. Of his heritage, Branagh–who left Belfast for England as a child during the Troubles– has said, “I feel Irish. I don’t think you can take Belfast out of the boy.”
Other prominent Oscar nominees with an Irish background include Rooney Mara, for Best Actress. Nominated for her portrayal of the asocial, bisexual computer hacker Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Mara is the the granddaughter of John Mara, owner of the Giants, and great-niece of Steelers Chairman and Ambassador to Ireland, Dan Rooney. Glenn Close is also a contender in that category for her work as the gender-bending title character in the Irish film Albert Nobbs, which was filmed in Dublin and based on a short story by Irish writer George Moore. Close’s co-star Janet McTeer, who, as Hubert Page played a dynamic, confident foil to Close’s timid, confused Albert, is up for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Irish makeup artist Lynn Johnston has been nominated for her work in Albert Nobbs, along with Martial Corneville and Matthew W. Mungle.
The ever-hilarious Melissa McCarthy is also nominated for her work as a Supporting Actress in the comedy Bridesmaides. George Clooney, who has become something of a ubiquitous presence at the Oscars in recent years, is up for both Best Actor, in Alexander Payne’s The Descendants, and for Best Adaptation, in recognition of his work on The Ides of March. Clooney is set for a motorcycle tour of Ireland in April, when he will re-connect with his Co. Clare roots.
Also nominated in the Adapted Screenplay category are Peter Straughan and his late wife, Bridget O’Connor, who died of cancer in September 2010, after filming had begun on their adaptation of John le Carré’s Tinker, Tailor, Solder, Spy. The couple had lived in Ireland for a number of years and O’Connor was the daughter of Irish immigrants to England – her mother from Limerick, her father from Cork. According to her obituary in The Guardian, “In Harrow, Bridget grew up amid ceilidh bands and dancing lessons, and spent long, wild summers on Ireland’s Banna Strand.”
Irish-American Eugene Gearty, a long-time favorite of Martin Scorcese has been nominated, with Philip Stockton, for his sound editing work on Scorcese’s first 3-D film, Hugo.
Watch trailers for these Oscar-nominated films:
My Week With Marilyn:
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo:
The Ides of March:
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: