Away from the machismo, there were genuine moments of celebration for Ireland in and around the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles before and after Sunday night’s Academy Awards ceremony.
Killarney’s Jessie Buckley may have missed out on an Oscar for her enigmatic performance as a conflicted mother in The Lost Daughter, but she is enjoying a stellar year and awards will surely follow a great talent. Killarney Musical Society, where Buckley started acting, said this was “the beginning of the next chapter in her journey”. And in that they will be proved correct.
Kenneth Branagh’s coming-of-age tribute to his home city of Belfast did pick up the prize for best original screenplay and he talked eloquently from the stage of “the search for hope and joy in face of violence and loss”.
“We will never forget all of those lost in the heartbreaking, heartwarming, human story of that amazing city of Belfast on the fabulous island of Ireland,” he said.
In a pre-Oscars speech at the Irish Oscar Wilde awards, Belfast star Jamie Dornan spoke emotionally about his father, Jim, a prominent Belfast doctor who died from Covid-19 last year. Dornan said he “proudly identifies” as Irish.
“Where I come from, identity is very skewed. If you’re from the North, how you identify yourself gets you into a whole heap of trouble, maybe 30 years of trouble, and it’s constantly going to be a source of conflict, sadly.
If you’re lucky enough to be Irish, then you are lucky enough.
There were also plus points for the Irish language, with the Oscar Wilde awards for rising talent going to actor Dónall Ó Héalai, who attracted attention four years ago when he gave a Ted Talk about the beauty of Gaeilge.
Since then, two of his films, Arracht, about the Famine and Foscadh, about a man with cognitive challenges responding to his mother’s death, have been Ireland’s choices for the foreign language Oscars.
If South Korea can produce winners such as Squid Game and Parasite, there’s no reason why a future blockbuster cannot come from the Gaeltacht.