Good Call: Nine Times the Academy Got it Right

April 26

We all know the Academy gets it wrong sometimes.

Like when Shakespeare in Love won Best Picture over Saving Private Ryan, or how The Shining wasn’t even nominated, or when Dances With Wolves cleaned up in 1991 (I mean, c’mon, it’s good, but not that good).

But what about when they called it right? When tradition was defied with a surprising choice, or an overlooked creative was finally given his or her due?

We don’t hear about those moments as much.

Here are some of the wisest, most surprising, just plain best decisions ever made at the Oscars.

Parasite Wins Best Picture

It was assumed that Parasite would take home Best International Feature in 2020.

A turn up for the books so, when it was awarded Best Picture too.

It’s even more surprising when you consider the stacked card from that year: The IrishmanMarriage Story1917 and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood… All great films, all more classic, Oscar-y, choices than the winner.

But, win it did, becoming the first non-English film to take home the night’s biggest prize.

Hopefully it opens the door for many more.

Roger Deakins Wins Best Cinematography

It was fourteenth time lucky for Roger Deakins at the 90th Academy Awards.

One of Hollywood’s most celebrated cinematographers, his filmography speaks for itself – The Shawshank RedemptionPrisoners, and No Country For Old Men, to name a few – and although oft nominated, he’d never won the big one.

That was until 2018, when he was rewarded for his depiction of the brutal, beautiful dystopia of Blade Runner 2049.

He wouldn’t have to wait as long for his second, winning in 2020 for his innovative work on 1917.

Frances McDormand Wins Best Actress

Of all the films nominated in 1997, Fargo is the one that has passed the test of time (and with flying colours, I might add).

However, it underperformed on the night, winning only two of its seven nominations.

At least Frances McDormand won Best Actress. I’ll leave it to writer Dan Jackson to sum up why (you can read the full article here):

The Coens have worked with some incredible actors -- Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, Holly Hunter, and The Jesus, to name a few -- but they've never had a collaborator who feels so keyed into their peculiar view of the human experience like Frances McDormand.

Oh, you betcha!

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King‘s Record-Equalling Haul

Fantasy movies: the only genre less popular than Horror and Sci-fi at the Oscars.

It’s rare to see one nominated, let alone win. So it was nice to see the Academy go against tradition in 2004.

Besides cleaning up with a massive 11 awards – equalling Ben-Hur and Titanic‘s record – The Return of the King was also the first bona fide Fantasy to win Best Pic.

A well-deserved victory lap for a staggering cinematic achievement.

Trent Reznor and Atticus Finch Win Best Original Score

Career pivots don’t come more successful than Trent Reznor and Atticus Finch’s foray into movie music.

The Social Network would be the first of many, and what a way to start.

It’s a fantastic score. All moody synths and twitchy rhythms, it’s atmospheric, anxious, and haunting, and key to why the film works so well.

Hans Zimmer was nominated that year too, for his awesome Inception soundtrack. Any other year, he probably would have won – but Reznor and Finch deserved it.

The Academy doesn’t often go for newcomers, but I’m glad they did in 2011.

Martin Scorcese Finally Wins Best Director

The Academy hasn’t been kind to ol’ Marty.

Not only has he missed out on Best Director for some absolute masterpieces, but he wasn’t even nominated for some of his best work – I’m talking Mean StreetsCape FearKing of Comedy and Taxi Driver.

Still, at least he won for the ludicrously entertaining The Departed.

Almost makes up for him not winning for Goodfellas. Almost…

Adrien Brody Wins Best Actor over Daniel Day-Lewis

It was expected, for his scene-stealing Bill the Butcher in Gangs of New York, that Daniel-Day Lewis would win his second Best Actor statue.

But Adrien Brody, as Władysław Szpilman in The Pianist, took it in the end – and deservedly so.

It’s a wonderful performance. See for yourself:

While a lesser actor may have gravitated towards theatrics and melodrama, Brody wisely opts for subtlety, restraint and understatement. His physical transformation, while shocking, is incredible too.

The menacing Bill or the dignified Władysław. A tough call between two very different, and two very great, performances – but the Academy was on the money.

Spirited Away Wins Best Animated Feature

Pixar and Dreamworks have generally dominated this category, but this Studio Ghibli wonder was an exception to the rule.

It would have been a crime if it hadn’t won, really. Delightful, charming, moving, stunning to look at… All those things and more. Spirited Away is timeless.

Should have won Best Picture that year, too.

La La Land Wins Best Picture Over Moonlight

No, wait… Moonlight won over La La Land. Damn, it is easy to mix them up!

Seriously though. #Envelopegate was unfortunate for all involved. The La La Land team were stranded onstage holding an award that wasn’t theirs to hold, and everyone assumed it was poor Warren Beatty’s fault (it wasn’t).

Most unfortunate of all, I’d argue, for Moonlight, whose win has been a bit overshadowed by the controversy on the night.

This shouldn’t be.

A stunning piece of work, it’s also one of the Academy’s most unexpected Best Picture decisions; remember it wasn’t just La La Land that year, but big hitters like Hidden FiguresArrival, and Manchester By the Sea too.

Definitely one the Academy got right.

After they got it wrong. 😉

Written by Conor Regan.

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Parasite: Status Set in Stone

May 05

Produced by Jamie Baker, Audio Services Lead.

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Irish Film: Fan Favourites

April 05

Featuring our guest podcaster Eimear O’Donoghue, this month the focus was on Irish film and a personal favourite from our two hosts. They chat about two very different genres that just go to show how broad the spectrum of what Irish film can offer is.

“One that really stood out to me, which I would have seen when I was about 15, was Breakfast on Pluto.”

Eimear chose the comedy-drama Breakfast on Pluto as her favourite, which came out in 2005 and is based on the novel by the same name by Patrick McCabe, of Butcher Boy fame.

“It’s directed by Neil Jordan who also did The Butcher Boy and The Crying Game. Very well respected Irish director.”

Starring Cillian Murphy as the lead, a transgender woman who was abandoned at birth and grows up in a small town in rural Ireland in the 1940’s.

“They get the essence of Patrick ‘Kitten’ Braden, who’s the main character, played by Cillian Murphy in the film.”

Cillian Murphy is famed for many roles, notably as the Scarecrow in The Dark Knight trilogy, but he also played lead roles in other famous Irish films, such as Intermission and The Wind That Shakes the Barley.

“Basically it’s split into about 36 chapters. So it’s a kind of, picaresque film, where it’s just following Patrick Kitten Braden through his life.”

From her upbringing in an uncaring foster home, to running away from home with a glam rock band and getting involved with the IRA, it’s a tumultuous existence Kitty lives, and yet she does it with complete poise.

“It’s sort of Dickensian in the way that his spirit triumphs throughout.”

Featuring a whole host of stars, some of rest of the cast include Liam Neeson, Ruth Negga, Liam Cunningham and Stephen Rea.

“I’d say the best cameo in it has to be Brendan Gleeson as a Womble.”

An award winning film, Breakfast on Pluto secured four Irish Film and Television Awards and earned Cillian Murphy a Golden Globe for Best Actor.

“I’m glad I re-watched it! And the costuming is incredible.”

Aoife, who if you’ve been listening you know loves all things horror, chose the recently released The Hole in the Ground. Released at the start of March of this year, The Hole in the Ground is a horror thriller that had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January.

“It’s starring Seána Kerslake who was also in A Date for Mad Mary which I also absolutely loved. It was just such a fun movie, but this is a very different vibe.”

Seána Kerslake (pronounced Shaw-nah) is also well known for being one of the leading roles in the Irish television show, Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope. She is definitely a star on the rise in the film industry.

“It’s an interesting film because, you know we get a lot of these horror movies where these mothers are stuck in their houses and they become afraid of their children.”

A mother flees a possibly abusive relationship with her young son to the Irish countryside and settles down in a house next to a forest, where a large sinkhole sits in the centre.

“What would you do if you found out your child was becoming someone you didn’t like?”

The film draw on themes of doppelgängers and changelings, with changelings being heavily featured in Irish folklore as a cruel trick played by faeries, and doppelgängers originating from Germany and representing extreme bad luck.

“I think that Irish horror in general is having a little bit of a moment.”

Some of the more popular Irish horror films that have come out in the last decade and that we highly recommend are The Hallow, The Lodgers and The Canal. If you’re a horror fan they are definitely worth a watch!

“I wanted to talk very briefly about Without Name. This is the eco-horror.”

Directed by Lorcan Finnegan and starring Alan McKenna, this film centres on a mysterious forest and a man with something to hide.

“Extra Ordinary is coming out as well which is sort of like a, comedy horror it looks like? With Maeve Higgins in it, I think she plays a driving instructor who can converse with the dead.”

Extra Ordinary had its world premiere in March at the SXSW Film Festival in the United States. Official release date is still to be announced but it is making waves in the festival circuit.

“I feel like the Irish have a good sense of a Gothic tale.”

As the birth place of Bram Stoker, Halloween and banshees, it’s safe to say the Irish know how to tell a good horror story.

That’s not to say they can’t tell an uplifting one from time to time either! Have a listen and leave a comment, do you have a favourite Irish film? Let us know!


Samantha Lyons | Inflight Dublin


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