Irish Oscar nominations exceed all expectations

Pundits underestimated films’ potential ahead of Academy Awards announcement

Irish director Lenny Abrahamson talks to donald Clarke about his Oscar-nominated film 'Room'.

For some months, there has been cautious talk of domestic success at the Academy Awards.

Both Lenny Abrahamson's Room, People's Choice Award winner at the Toronto Film Festival, and John Crowley's Brooklyn, a triumph at last year's Sundance, looked to have a chance of significant nominations.

Would the chatter cast a jinx?

When the nominations were announced in Los Angeles yesterday, it transpired that most pundits had underestimated the films’ potential.


Brooklyn grabbed three nominations, Room secured four.

Both are nominated for best picture. Both are mentioned in the best actress category: Brie Larson for Room; Saoirse Ronan for Brooklyn.

Both compete in best adapted screenplay. This was about the most anybody had hoped for.

In total, there were a record nine Irish nominations. Abrahamson’s nomination for best director took almost everyone by surprise.

Ed Guiney, producer of Room, felt reasonably confident Larson would get in and hoped Emma Donoghue, who adapted her own novel, would score.

“Lenny we gave up on ages ago because we thought it’s an award for older directors,” he said.

“That was such a surprise. It is so extraordinary. It is so well deserved.”

Great timing

Abrahamson and Guiney have worked together since their days at Trinity College. Their timing could hardly have been better.

Room, concerning a woman detained in a psychopath's shed with her son, opens today in Ireland and the UK.

Donoghue was equally excited. “It’s a childhood fantasy of mine to get to the Oscars,” the Irish writer said.

Ronan expressed delight at her second Oscar nomination. “When we made Brooklyn, we had no idea of what was to come,” she said.

Such was the kerfuffle around those two pictures that the achievement of Kerryman Michael Fassbender, nominated in the best actor category for Steve Jobs, risked being slightly overlooked.

Stutterer, from Irish director Benjamin Cleary, also secured a nomination in the best live-action short.

The ceremony is on February 28th.

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke, a contributor to The Irish Times, is Chief Film Correspondent and a regular columnist