An unprecedented year for Irish talent: Donald Clarke on the 2023 Bafta nominations

Colm Bairéad’s Irish-language film An Cailín Ciúin continues astonishing run with two nominations as Martin McDonagh’s The Banshees of Inisherin bags 10 nods

There has been an unprecedentedly strong showing for Irish talent among the nominations for the 76th Bafta awards. Seven domestic actors are up for prizes. Martin McDonagh’s The Banshees of Inisherin, second in the nominations table to All Quiet on the Western Front, competes in 10 races. Tom Berkeley and Ross White’s charming Northern Irish film An Irish Goodbye is mentioned for best British short. Sebastián Lelio’s The Wonder, an Irish coproduction adapted from Emma Donoghue’s novel of the same name, competes alongside The Banshees of Inisherin for best British film. The Oscar-winner Richard Baneham, from Tallaght, is nominated in special visual effects for his work on Avatar: The Way of Water. And Jonathan Redmond, raised in Sandycove, is, alongside Matt Villa, nominated in the best-editing category for Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis.

Most stirring of all, Colm Bairéad’s An Cailín Ciúin (The Quiet Girl) continues its astonishing run, with nominations in best film not in the English language and, for Bairéad, best adapted screenplay. The latter was a surprise. The place in the non-English-language category was cautiously predicted, but that competition is wildly overstuffed: An Cailín Ciúin makes it in while hugely fancied releases such as RRR, an Indian action sensation, and Close, hailed as an Oscar favourite at Cannes, fail to secure nominations.

“We are beyond thrilled that An Cailín Ciúin has received these nominations from Bafta and are so happy that its academy members have opened their hearts to our film,” Colm Bairéad and producer Cleona Ní Chrualaoi said. “We feel so proud that, for the first time, an Irish-language feature film has been nominated at these prestigious awards and that our native language is finding its voice on cinema’s world stage.”

Fully half of the six nominees for best actor are Irish. Colin Farrell, hotly tipped since winning best actor at Venice in September, gets the nod for his performance as a spurned friend to Brendan Gleeson in The Banshees of Inisherin. Kildare’s Paul Mescal, currently reeling from ecstatic reviews for his performance on the London stage in A Streetcar Named Desire, is mentioned for Charlotte Wells’s haunting debut feature, Aftersun. Daryl McCormack, proud Nenagh man, gets the nod for his turn as a suave sex worker opposite Emma Thompson in Sophie Hyde’s Good Luck to You, Leo Grande. McCormack is also up for the EE Rising Star Award, a prize voted on by the public.


The Banshees of Inisherin continues to impress with four actor nominations. Brendan Gleeson and Barry Keoghan go up against one another for best supporting actor. Kerry Condon – like McCormack, Tipperary raised – is mentioned in best supporting actress. At the start of the season Jessie Buckley looked like a competitor in that race, for Sarah Polley’s Women Talking, but, having failed to make the Bafta longlist, she was already out of it.

McDonagh also competes for best director and in best original screenplay. Kathryn Ferguson’s Nothing Compares, a popular film on Sinéad O’Connor, could not quite make the leap from a longlisting for best documentary to the nomination itself.

Away from the Irish sector, there were some real surprises. There is sure to be controversy about RRR, a film concerning the fight against British imperialism, scoring not a single nomination. More surprising still, Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans, predicted to sweep all before it after an ecstatic debut at Toronto International Film Festival, picked up just one nomination, for best original screenplay.

Nobody at the Canadian festival would have bet that Edward Berger’s All Quiet on the Western Front, only the second big-screen adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque’s anti-war novel, would, after its own debut there, go on to secure 14 Bafta nominations. No film has got so many since The King’s Speech, 12 years ago. It will surely now cross over from the “international film” corral at the Oscars to register in other awards.

Few other electorates for major awards share as many voters as the British academy does with the US Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. As a result, winning at Bafta has had some value as a pointer to Oscar success. In recent years, however, changes in the process to select nominees for certain awards – acting shortlists now emerge from a complex mesh of juries – has caused that part of the procedure to veer off in eccentric directions. Last year, astonishingly, not a single person was nominated for best actress at both awards. Once the nomination stage is over, the vote returns to the members. In 2021, after an eyebrow-raising series of nominations under the new system, Bafta presented every one of its acting and writing awards as well as its best-picture prize to the eventual winners at the Oscars.

The Irish nominees will therefore be approaching this year’s Bafta ceremony, on Sunday, February 19th, in a state of hopeful anticipation. Richard E Grant and Alison Hammond will present from the Royal Festival Hall, in London.