A rare plug here for the Hollywood self-congratulation fest, the Oscars, only really because of the unprecedented presence of three Irish films among the nominations, Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty in the Best Animated Short category and The Door for Best Short. And there was also a welcome surprise, Tomm Moore's The Secret of Kells. I saw the film last year here in Paris, where it did reasonable enough business during the Easter holidays. Unfortunately I saw it in a dubbed version (it's a Franco-Belgo-Irish coproduction) so I missed having the pleasure of hearing Mick Lally and Brendan Gleeson voicing cartoons. It's a superbly animated and thoroughly enjoyable film that fully deserves a big audience; it doesn't go on release in the States until April. It's unlikely that it will be able to see off the big guns such as Up, Fantastic Mister Fox or Coraline but Gunn and Kilkenny's Cartoon Saloon should get well established as a result of the publicity.
There were also Irish success stories within the machine with Ballyfermot alumnus Richard Beneham up for Best Visual Effects for Avatar and Peter Devlin for his sound work on Star Trek. This year the Academy has reverted to his original format of selecting ten films for best picture, presumably to allow five extra middle-brow movies with fine notions to claim some dubious prestige. The result is rather lopsided but it does at least allow some consolation to the scandalously overlooked A Serious Man, which garnered only one other nomination. It's probably a better film than either Fargo or No Country for Old Men, hitherto the Coens' most successful at the Oscars. But then again, what does the Academy know? (The nominations also remind me to finally watch The Hurt Locker; critically acclaimed though a friend of mine who has worked as a journalist in Iraq says it's rather risible, comparing it unfavourably to Generation Kill.)
Here's the trailer for The Secret of Kells: