Oscar nominee profile: Martin McDonagh (‘The Banshees of Inisherin’) looking to prevail on first Best Director bid

Seventeen years after his first and only short film, “Six Shooter” (2004), brought him his sole Oscar win for Best Live Action Short, Martin McDonagh is seeking his first Best Director victory for “The Banshees of Inisherin.” The 2022 black comedy is his fourth feature film, after 2008’s “In Bruges,” 2012’s “Seven Psychopaths” and 2017’s “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Although the last amassed seven Oscar notices, McDonagh’s direction was overlooked. Now that he has finally garnered enough support within the directors’ branch for a nomination, it might indeed be time for him to conquer his first above-the-line category.

The Best Director contenders nominated against McDonagh are Todd Field (“TAR”), Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”), Ruben Ostlund (“Triangle of Sadness”) and Steven Spielberg (“The Fabelmans”). Spielberg is the only category veteran in the bunch, with two wins for “Schindler’s List” (1993) and “Saving Private Ryan” (1998) as well as half a dozen more past bids. Most of the other hopefuls are Oscar newcomers, but Field did receive screenplay nominations for “In the Bedroom” and “Little Children” and a producing notice for the former.

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Set on a small Irish island in the early 1920s, “The Banshees of Inisherin” centers on the abrupt dissolution of a close friendship between two men who had previously been content to drink and chat their days away. Colm Doherty (Brendan Gleeson) shuns Pádraic Súilleabháin (Colin Farrell) out of depression-fueled desperation, but his lack of warning or explanation for his drastic action leaves Pádraic spiraling deep into a sense of self doubt until he begins to change for the worse.

With its nine Oscar nominations, “The Banshees of Inisherin” received more love from the academy than almost any other film this year, behind only “Everything Everywhere All at Once” (11 bids) and tied with “All Quiet on the Western Front.” Its Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay notices are also attributed to McDonagh, who shares the former with frequent collaborators Graham Broadbent and Peter Czernin. His new film is also up for Best Film Editing and Best Score and received four acting mentions for lead Farrell and supporting players Gleeson, Barry Keoghan and Kerry Condon.

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McDonagh previously received original screenplay nominations for “In Bruges” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” as well as a producing bid for the latter. If he is successful on his first Best Director outing, the English-born Irishman will extend the trend of the category’s champs having originated from outside of the United States into its sixth year. He will have been preceded in this regard by Jane Campion (New Zealand; “The Power of the Dog”), Chloe Zhao (China; “Nomadland”), Bong Joon-ho (Korea; “Parasite”), Alfonso Cuaron (Mexico; “Roma”) and Guillermo del Toro (Mexico; “The Shape of Water”).

This article is a part of Gold Derby’s “Oscar nominee profile” series spotlighting the 2022 Best Picture nominees.

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