Oscar Wilde Awards: Green carpet and ‘Kerrygold Ice Cream’

The sort-of-Irish Oscar Wilde bash is now a key pre-Academy Awards event

Over the last decade and a bit, the Oscar Wilde Awards have established themselves as a key event in the last days of (the pun is surely intended) Oscar season. Tucked a mile or so from the Pacific, at the Santa Monica offices of production company Bad Robot, the ceremony, hosted by the US-Ireland Alliance, is less formal than most of LA's more dinner-jacketed bashes, but its scale is, by everyday standards, pretty darn staggering.

A huge array of celebrities packs into the sizable building to be lauded by J J Abrams, Bad Robot’s proprietor, and to enjoy upper-end Irish entertainment and decent sort-of Irish food (no curled ham sandwiches here). Guests arrive on a short “green carpet” before powering into a clatter of activity.

This year's event – whose definition of "Irish" has always been generous – put honours the way of actors Barry Keoghan, Mark Hamill, Paula Malcomson, and Catherine O'Hara. The comedian Kathy Griffin introduced the bash with Abrams.

Griffin said: “In a year where our society is – I dearly hope -- finally acknowledging the necessity of true and measurable equality for women … I’m both proud and grateful to say that the US-Ireland Alliance has always been led by women.”


Colin Farrell, a previous honouree, was there to present Barry Keoghan, his co-star in The Killing of a Sacred Deer, with his award.

“It’s really incredible what he has achieved in a few years,” Colin said. “Anyone who knows Barry can testify to the fact that he has gone through a certain amount of experience in his own personal life. He has experienced a certain amount of desolation in his personal life, in his past, things that I would find in my contemplation of such loss, completely insurmountable.”

Keoghan has talked in the past about how his late mother failed to survive Dublin’s heroin epidemic. He will return to Santa Monica on Saturday for the Independent Spirit Awards, which take place on the beach in that attractive corner of LA. He is up for best supporting actor in The Killing of a Sacred Deer.

Hamill, who greatly enjoyed shooting the last two Star Wars films in Ireland, noted that the late Carrie Fisher, his co-star on the franchise, was honoured at the Oscar Wilde a few years previously.

“Her speech was, of course, hilarious,” he said. “I can’t touch her in that regard, but I’ll try and be more coherent.”

Catherine O’Hara, star of Home Alone and Best in Show, noted that the Irish: “mock us for wandering through your graveyards, searching for someone, anyone, with our last names”.

The Irish band The Academic included a version of The Cranberries' Linger in their set, as a tribute to the late Dolores O'Riordan. The poet David Whyte read The Bell and the Blackbird and Just Beyond Yourself.

They ate something called “Kerrygold Ice Cream”.

It conveys some idea of the event's status to note that attendees included Ava DuVernay, Andy Serkis, Aisling Bea, Karl Urban and Jason Ritter. Alan Horn, chairman of Walt Disney Studios, and Peter Roth, president of Warner Brothers, were also at the bash by the sea.

Attention now moves to the Oscars themselves on Sunday night. The Irish interest comprises Saoirse Ronan, up as best actress for Lady Bird, Cartoon Saloon's The Breadwinner, a nominee for best animated feature, and Consolata Boyle listed in the best costumes race for Victoria & Abdul.

They all have a fight on their hands.

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke

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