A JOURNAL OF CONTEMPORARY IRISH & IRISH AMERICAN AFFAIRS 
Spring 2019 / VOL. 19 ISSUE 1

Well, the Oscars are long over and the arguing and congratulating is still going on.! The ceremony was a success in many ways – shorted than usual for a start – and the awards were passed around fairly equally, with Roma, Bohemian Rhapsody, Black Panther and Green Book sharing the glory between them.

 

Irish-produced The Favourite took home one of the big ones – best actress for Olivia Coleman (a win that broke the hearts of all Glenn Close fans, who felt she was long-overdue after six previous unsuccessful nominations) – but that was its only win out of 10 nominations.

 

There was bad luck too for Irish short Detainment and animated short Late Afternoon, though they’ll certainly have had fun at the Dolby Theater and the many parties afterward.

 

A Star is Born was as almost empty-handed too, only taking home the predictable best song statue for Lady Gaga’s “Shallow” out of its eight nominations (and early on at least, it seemed they were going to sweep the board).

 

Rami Malek’s turn in the so-so Bohemian Rhapsody won him the best actor prize, and Mahershala Ali picked up his second best supporting actor in three years for Green Book which, controversially, won best picture.

 

Alfonso Cuarón’s personal tour-de-force Roma won best director, cinematography and foreign film, Black Panther unsurprisingly scooped up the costume and production design awards amongst its haul of four. It was also good to see Spike Lee get this (long) overdue (best adapted screenplay award for BlacKKKlansman), and Regina King’s best supporting win for If Beale Street Could Talk was felt to be well-earned.

 

Elsewhere though filming still carries on, and it’s been announced that Saoirse Ronan will play opposite Kate Winslet in Ammonite, which, despite its name, is not a dinosaur adventure (well, not quite).

 

Kerry native Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly will direct the story, which is inspired by the life of pioneering fossil hunter Mary Anning. Set in 1840s England, the movie will chart the intense relationship that develops between Anning (Winslet) and a young woman (Ronan) sent to convalesce by the sea. Filming begins this spring.

 

Also, possible future Irish successes will be screened for the first time at the SXSW this month, including supernatural comedy Extra Ordinary, which stars comedian Maeve Higgins (Moone Boy) and Will Forte (Nebraska).

 

Written and directed by Mike Ahern and Enda Loughman, it will feature in the “Narrative Spotlight” section of the festival, which is based in Austin, Texas.

 

The movie boasts a strong Irish supporting cast including Siobhan McSweeney and Jamie Beamish (Derry Girls) and tells the story of Rose (Higgins), a lonely driving instructor in rural Ireland who is gifted with supernatural abilities.

 

She has a love/hate relationship with her “skills”, but then she gets involved with a rock star (Forte) who has sold his soul to the devil for a career comeback, and has bewitched a local teenage girl; can Rose help bring the levitating girl back to earth?

 

Extra Ordinary filmed on location in Kildare, Tullamore and Wicklow last year, and will screen at SXSW with other Irish projects including the critically acclaimed Wild Rose, which stars young actress Jessie Buckley.

 

Filming is booming in Ireland at the moment, and other movies in production include Disney’s big budget Artemis Fowl, the adaptation of Irish author Eoin Colfer’s fantasy books. It’s being directed by Belfast-born Kenneth Branagh, and they’re currently filming in the North Ireland before going to Vietnam and England.

 

Also, The Rhythm Section is an action thriller following a woman’s plot for revenge, which stars Blake Lively, Jude Law and Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us) and has resumed filming in Dublin after it was suspended earlier in the year.

 

Viking’s season six continues its conquering run too, and is currently filming in the Co. Wicklow location of Lough Tay. The historical series’ cast includes Dubliner Jonathan Rhys Myers, Alexander Ludwig, Katheryn Winnick and Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, while science fiction drama Vivarium, which is under the eye of Irish director Lorcan Finnegan and stars Imogen Poots and Jesse Eisenberg, is shooting too.

 

Additionally, Four Kids and It, a children’s movie starring Paula Patton, Matthew Goode, Michael Caine and Bill Nighy, is currently in production, and – putting aside his recent controversial comments – Liam Neeson and Lesley Manville (Oscar nominee for last year’s Phantom Thread) are currently working in the North of Ireland on Normal People, a drama about a married couple dealing with some earth-shattering news. It’s written by Owen McCafferty and is being directed by Lisa Barros D'Sa.   

 

Looking even further into the future, and it has been announced that Co. Antrim-born actor Stephen Hagan is taking on a huge role: playing polymath artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci in the upcoming third season of Netflix series Medici.

 

The 34-year-old Greenisland native, who will play the man who painted the Mona Lisa, said that he was rather intimidated by the challenge: “It's like an Italian coming to Belfast to play (legendary soccer player) George Best,” he offered good-naturedly.

 

Hagan spent four months shooting in Italy, and noted that Italians take Da Vinci very seriously:

 

“On my first day a taxi driver quizzed me about a scene asking if it was a realistic portrayal of the painter,” he laughed.

 

The Northern Irish actor began his research into the great artist and engineer in Italy, visiting Da Vinci’s hometown and museums where he could see his work.

 

“He was a perfectionist so was constantly walking away from projects because he wanted to learn how to make it better,” he said.

 

The star-studded cast includes Dustin Hoffman, Richard Madden (who recently won a Golden Globe for The Bodyguard) and Sean Bean, though it won’t hit our screens until 2020. 

 

That’s all for now from an unusually cold and rainy Hollywood.

Irish Movie News

 

By: James Bartlett

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