1989 kicked off somewhat of an Irish film renaissance with My Left Foot receiving five Oscar nominations. Daniel Day-Lewis won the award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his turn as Christy Brown and Brenda Fricker won Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her portrayal of Christy’s mother. The film missed out on Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay as did Jim Sheridan for Best Director.
1989 kicked off somewhat of an Irish film renaissance with My Left Foot receiving five Oscar nominations.The following year saw a Best Actor in a Leading Role nomination for Richard Harris for his performance in Sheridan’s The Field. Harris is best-known among this generation as Dumbledore in the first two Harry Potter films.1993 saw seven Oscar nominations for Sheridan’s In the Name of the Father but unfortunately no wins. His impact on Irish film cannot be understated. Following this run of Oscar-nominated films, Sheridan went on to write and direct other influential Irish features such as The Boxer, In America (three more Oscar nominations) and most recently The Secret Scripture. His most surprising work came in 2005 when he directed 50 Cent’s biopic Get Rich or Die Tryin’. Aside from Oscar-nominated films, the nineties and noughties saw some of the best Irish releases. Roddy Doyle’s ‘Barrytown Trilogy’ includes three films that are always ranked among the best and most loved of our country. 1991’s The Commitments, 1993’s The Snapper and 1996’s The Van are all hilarious renditions of ordinary life in Dublin in the 1990s.The late nineties saw successful period pieces such as Neil Jordan’s Michael Collins starring Liam Neeson, Jordan’s The Butcher Boy and the adaptation of Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes.
The early noughties saw important societal issues being delivered with Irish wit in the form of comedy dramas.The early noughties saw important societal issues being delivered with Irish wit in the form of comedy dramas. 2004’s Adam and Paul deals with the issue of homelessness in Dublin. The film manages to make audiences laugh out loud whilst also being deeply touching. That same year Irish audiences were treated to the brilliant Inside I’m Dancing (also known as Rory O’Shea was Here). A 25-year-old James McAvoy stars as the titular character who is wheelchair-bound due to muscular dystrophy. He enters a home for the disabled and brings fun and freedom into the life of Michael (Steven Robertson) who has cerebral palsy.Continuing this trend, Neil Jordan’s Breakfast on Pluto was released in 2005. The film stars Cillian Murphy as a young trans woman who leaves her small Irish town in the 1970s to go to London where she feels her gender identity will be overlooked.In recent times, Irish animation has been well-received by the Academy and audiences alike. 2009 saw nominations for both The Secret of Kells and Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty produced by Cartoon Saloon and Brown Bag Films, respectively. This was followed by Song of the Sea’s nomination in 2014.2015 marked a return to Oscar-form for Irish film talent with seven nominations shared between Brooklyn and Room. The latter was written by Irish Novelist Emma Donoghue. American actress Brie Larson won the award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performance in the film.Unfortunately, not many of the great Irish films can currently be found on Netflix. Those that are currently available and are worth checking out are the recently added In Bruges starring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, Handsome Devil which was nominated for Feature Film of the Year at the IFTAs, Young Offenders and Sing Street.Here’s hoping 2018 will be the year the Irish win big at Hollywood’s most-coveted award ceremony.