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The Irish have made their presence felt at the Oscars — so can Ireland support the arts now?


By Sarah Gill
26th Jan 2023

Sarah Makharine via Volta Pictures

The Irish have made their presence felt at the Oscars — so can Ireland support the arts now?

Oscar nomination day was a great day for the parish, but will it prompt those in power to fund Irish creatives?

The nation is still bubbling over with excitement in the wake of Tuesday morning’s Oscar nominee announcements, and rightly so. Though the BBC may have already tried to claim them as their own, home grown talent totalled a record 14 nominations for the 95th Academy Awards, and the people of Twitter are likening the resulting feeling of Irish pride to that of Italia ‘90.

Up for Best Actor in a Leading Role we have Paul Mescal for Aftersun and Colin Farrell for The Banshees of Inisherin, with Brendan Gleeson and Barry Keoghan each up for the title of Best Actor in a Supporting Role. Kerry Condon is hotly tipped to take home the Best Actress in a Supporting Role award, and An Cailín Ciúin made Irish cinema history by becoming the first Irish language film to be nominated for an Oscar in the International Feature Film category.

Banshees is also nominated for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. Director Martin McDonagh is up for Best Director, and with additional nominations for music and film editing, the film has taken the baton from Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast for the most nominations for an Irish film.

Irish talent is also evidenced behind the scenes, with Irish editor Jonathan Redmond nominated for his work on Elvis, Irish animator and visual effects supervisor Richard Baneham for his work on Avatar: The Way of Water, and Tom Berkeley and Ross White’s An Irish Goodbye among the nominees for Best Live-Action Short.

All in all, a truly incredible feat for Irish creatives everywhere. Calls have been made for Marty Whelan to play host at the Dolby Theatre on the night, and bets have been cast that the Irish contingent will be on the floor for a bit of Rock the Boat before starters have been served — but let’s not lose sight of the opportunity this affords us to take stock of the weight and merit Ireland puts on the arts.

A nation known across the globe for its storytelling, Irish talent proves time and time again that platforming a creative spirit and nurturing that intrinsic talent is worthwhile, yet the framework is just not in place to support burgeoning creatives. From insufficient funding to the lack of infrastructure for creatives to thrive within, many of our finest budding talents are emigrating, throwing in the towel, or heading back to their day jobs.

Few are afforded the opportunity to rise through the ranks like these first time Oscar nominees have. Ireland is second to none when it comes to singing the praises of its people, but it lacks the ability to put its money where its mouth is. Normal People and Conversations with Friends were each commissioned by the BBC, and later picked up by RTÉ when it was proven to be a hit. Sharon Horgan’s Bad Sisters was created through AppleTV, and we’ve got Channel 4 to thank for Derry Girls.

The Irish presence at this year’s Oscars is an undeniable occasion for raucous celebration, but let’s just hope that it instills a renewed sense of respect for the arts, Irish creatives, and the spirit of storytelling.

Feature image Sarah Makharine via Volta Pictures