6 Reasons Why The Banshees of Inisherin should win the best picture Oscar: Another year, another round of Oscars, and the shallowness of award nominations becomes clearer with each one. Biases and agendas continue to dictate outcomes as the number of “Oscar-bait” films rises.
Moreover, compressing the merits of a limitless art form like cinema into an annual ceremony is highly reductive. Many have questioned the reliability of judging inherently subjective works. It seems, then, award shows are unlikely ever to reach a sufficient degree of credibility.
Yet, we watch them eagerly every year, anticipating results and praising winners. It’s fulfilling to see those we admire receive recognition. Despite many great artists frequently being overlooked, these award ceremonies still hold a symbolic value for both the filmmakers and the audience. So it’s pertinent for us to discuss their outcomes.
This article gives six reasons why The Banshees of Inisherin should win the Best Picture award at the 2023 Oscars.
An Unmatched Ensemble
At first glance, the most eye-catching feature of the film is the director-cast combo. Writer-director Martin McDonagh reunites with actors Colin Farrell and Brendon Gleeson, the lead duo of his debut feature, In Bruges. That film is still arguably McDonagh’s masterwork, but in my eyes, he and his cast are just as good here.
Barry Keoghan and Kerry Condon join Farrell and Gleeson to form an all-Irish ensemble. Every actor here brings their best, including Jenny the Donkey, who tugs at the audience’s heartstrings with her performance. The film has received four acting nominations, each one for the cast mentioned above, and I believe this would, in part, justify a well-deserved best-picture win.
A Script of Laughs, Tears, and Severed Fingers
“I just don’t like you no more” – A straightforward starting point for a story that eventually unravels into something that’s equally as delirious as it is sentimental. Under a lesser writer, the film could have become either overly indulgent or unambitious.
McDonagh has a remarkable ability to write humans with all their stupidity and empathy intact. Therefore, he’s able to reach for complex themes with his screenplay whilst remaining noticeably modest. McDonagh’s writing is transfixing and full of shocks. It’s a script that will be looked back on frequently for its virtuosity and poignancy.
It’s a Tonal Tightrope Walk
A tragicomedy is inherently a difficult genre to work in. Writers often find themselves jumbling the tone of their piece as they try to juggle between two disparate moods. However, McDonagh has a particular knack for this storytelling category, as shown by his previous features like In Bruges and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
In The Banshees of Inisherin, he manages to steer effortlessly through the humorous highs and melancholic lows without losing his balance. He gives us a journey full of vulgar farce and sorrowful loneliness, with a display of skill that will remain endlessly watchable.
Friendship, Loneliness, and Hopelessness: Thematic Resonance
A story of a childish squabble between two friends may not immediately connote layered themes, yet McDonagh laces his work with evocative ideas. The central relationship in the film is frequently compared to the background Irish Civil War.
As a political allegory, this works well through the idea that no one wins in a conflict, no matter how big or small. Similarly, the deterioration of friendship can inflict a two-way pain, which is examined here in full transparency.
Keoghan and Gleeson’s characters allow the film to reach its melancholic depths. Their agonizing solitude, and the latter’s prideful despair, are soul-stirring. Seeing everyone’s experiences here eliminates any possibility of moralism because there is no ethical conclusion to such a story. The opposing sides here are meant to be understood without taking a side. This amalgamation of grounded human drama and existential pain is both personal and universal.
Flawless Execution and Exemplary Craftsmanship
A commendable screenplay is often enough to craft a worthwhile film. After all, writing is at the core of storytelling. However, what’s the point in making a film if you’re not fully utilizing the medium’s technicalities?
The best picture must exhibit a technical brilliance that elevates its narrative. Here, cinematographer Ben Davis gives McDonagh’s majestic images a baroque mood and intersperses them with Malickian visuals.
Carter Burwell’s score is perhaps a more overlooked facet, but its subtle eccentricities are vital in forming the film’s tone. Both of these and the whole crew’s work showcase nearly flawless craftsmanship.
It’s time for the Academy to abandon its “Oscar-bait”
From Green Book to CODA, “Oscar-bait” films continue to attract the Academy’s attention. Regardless of their reception or ingenuity, few tropes constrain this film category, such as saccharine storytelling and inefficient minority representation.
These aspects aren’t inherently problematic and can be praiseworthy when implemented well, but they often take the spotlight when it comes to awards judgment. This results in comparably idiosyncratic works going under the radar (The Northman never stood a chance).
This year’s best picture nominations are also largely predictable. Consider these three: Everything Everywhere All At Once, Top Gun: Maverick, and Avatar: The Way of the Water. The common notion of mass appeal is very much evident here, despite the praise from both audiences and critics.
One of the few surprises was that no attention was given to Jordan Peele’s Nope. With his 2017 feature, Get Out, he was the Academy’s darling, but Nope received zero nominations this year. Perhaps it’s not too much of a shock, considering that it’s Peele’s most eccentric work with a thoughtful thematic exploration that’s subtle enough not to feel didactic.
The Banshees of Inisherin may share the drama genre with the other Oscar-bait films, but it could not be any more different. In addition to its artistic dexterity, its risks, and payoffs are far more commendable than your average best-picture nomination.
Furthermore, a film that feels simultaneously unpretentious and immensely profound is not easy to come by. Despite its seemingly reserved nature, it leaves an unforgettable impact.
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