Ireland had hoped for Oscar glory but instead ended up the butt of jokes about drinking, fighting and incomprehensible accents as it claimed just a couple of the coveted golden statuettes.
Just two awards out of 14 nominations was disappointment enough but Hollywood added insult to injury with national tropes that elicited eye rolls in Ireland.
The host Jimmy Kimmel made a gag in the opening monologue that linked the “green wave” to Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at last year’s ceremony. “Five Irish actors are nominated tonight, which means the odds of another fight on stage just went way up,” he said.
Later in the ceremony, Kimmel asked Colin Farrell about a supposed fan letter that expressed admiration for his performance in The Banshees of Inisherin but requested clarification about what the character said in the film.
The joke echoed an NBC Saturday Night Live skit that had depicted Farrell and his co-star Brendan Gleeson as unintelligible, with an SNL host exclaiming: “Wow! They haven’t even started drinking yet.”
The skit had been widely slated as offensive and unfunny, so Irish viewers were astonished when Kimmel revisited its mockery of accents in the putative fan’s letter. Farrell smiled and said: “I’d like him to go on YouTube and check out the SNL skit from last night.”
The exchange prompted laughter in the Dolby theatre but viewers in Ireland lauded Farrell’s reply as a pointed riposte to lazy stereotyping. “The lad is sharp, nice to see him calling out cringey SNL, makes Ireland proud,” one commenter tweeted.
One reason the SNL skit fell so flat was that Farrell gave up alcohol in 2006 and has spoken about the challenge of staying sober. Lisa McGee, the Derry Girls creator, tweeted: “Yes this fine,” with a facepalming emoji.
Other social media users pointed out that when another Irish nominee, Paul Mescal, was asked on the red carpet how he planned to celebrate Oscar night, he replied: “Drinking.”
The Banshees of Inisherin won no awards despite nine nominations. “Crushed by the hurtling train that is Everything Everywhere All at Once,” said the Irish Times. In the international category, the groundbreaking Irish-language film The Quiet Girl lost out to Germany’s All Quiet on the Western Front.
Ireland had two consolations: Richard Baneham, from Dublin, won his second Oscar for best visual effects as part of the team behind Avatar: The Way of Water. And the Northern Ireland film An Irish Goodbye won best live-action short film, which led to one of the 95th Academy Awards’ most moving moments: the audience joined the film’s makers in singing happy birthday to its star, James Martin, who had turned 31.
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