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Why The Banshees of Inisherin should have won Best Picture at the Oscars
Photo: © ANP

Why The Banshees of Inisherin should have won Best Picture at the Oscars

Why The Banshees of Inisherin should have won Best Picture at the Oscars
Photo: © ANP

The Banshees of Inisherin was one of the best movies of 2022 and that was reflected in its raft of Oscar nominations.

The movie, directed by Martin McDonagh, received nine Academy Award nominations including Best Picture, Best Actor (Colin Farrell), Best Supporting Actor (Brendan Gleeson & Barry Keoghan), Best Supporting Actress (Kerry Condon) and Best Director.

Ultimately, Banshees lost out on Best Picture to Everything Everywhere All at Once.

But, here is why it should have won...

The themes of The Banshees of Inisherin

Perhaps one of the most surprising aspects of Banshees is its nuanced depiction of depression. From the film’s trailer, one might assume Banshees to be a silly comedy about two bickering friends.

However, McDonagh’s film is an expertly balanced, dark comedy that is at points both hilarious and an insightful look into a man faced with an existential crisis. The Banshees’ cosy, rural setting may give the appearance of a jovial story, but at its core, the folk fable quality of the film brings the weightiness that the fables of old used to carry. Indeed, through its four main characters, McDonagh conveys themes of alienation, isolation and depression.

These are subjects the academy has rarely rewarded over the years. Even this year, the academy ignored another astute and heart-wrenching depiction of depression in Charlotte Wells’, Aftersun, at least in the Best Picture category. 2019’s Joker was perhaps the last time the academy nominated a film that dealt with such subject matter. However, Banshees is a far more nuanced and less obnoxious take on the subject. With so much widespread discourse on mental health and the importance of transparency when it comes to these issues, it was time to award the film that successfully brought these themes to the forefront. 

And then there is the fact that Colm and Padraic's fighting is a metaphor for the Irish Civil War. Two entities, once joined, are now divided.

The sublime simplicity of The Banshees of Inisherin

What this year’s best picture nominations have shown is that the academy love their grandiose productions. From All Quiet on the Western Front, Avatar: The Way of Water, Elvis and Top Gun: Maverick, the academy has clearly fallen for spectacle this year.

Banshees was the most understated nominee and yet one of the most profound. What McDonagh’s production proves is that sometimes less is more.

There is no need for huge, elaborate set pieces when you have a solid story and a dedicated cast to tell it. Banshees was truly the antithesis of most of the nominees, which also proves McDonagh’s talents as an excellent writer and director. The synergy between McDonagh and his major cast (all of which garnered nominations) showcase that more down-to-earth, human stories can always rival and even trump the grandest of spectacle. 

It's about time a black comedy won

When it comes to Best Picture nominees the academy has become incredibly predictable. War films, biopics, heavy dramas or films about Hollywood will always be recognised year, in year out. So, it was rather surprising that this year the academy has nominated three comedies, of sorts, in the Best Picture category.

Now, Banshees and Everything Everywhere All at Once may bring with them hefty drama and Triangle of Sadness is a clear-cut satire on the super-rich; but nonetheless, it is still refreshing to see more comedic pictures garner huge praise.

All comedy is subjective of course, but out of the three Banshees is the funniest picture. It may delve into darker territory in its second half, but as a black comedy it is bleakly brilliant. It may be a far more conventional comedy than the likes of Everything Everywhere, relying heavily on its writing and delivery more than physical humour. Yet, this further proves McDonagh’s talents as a filmmaker and one who truly understands how to juggle drama and comedy. 

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