Sunday, July 14, 2024

Why “The Banshees Of Inisherin” Is “The Favourite” To Win At Least One Major Oscar This Year

The Banshees of Inisherin” is a Searchlight Pictures black comedy that is among the most Oscar-nominated films of the year, is a twisted tale of broken relationships, has multiple acting nominations, is a Best Original Screenplay co-favorite, is set in Europe over 100 years ago, is perhaps more critic friendly than general audience friendly, and has workable scenarios where it could either win Best Picture or get shut out entirely on Oscar night. But although this is happening in 2022-23, it very much has the feel of 2018-19, when “The Favourite” went through the exact same path.

The Favourite” was a Searchlight black comedy that tied for the most Oscar nominations of 2018, was a twisted tale of broken relationships, had three acting nominations, was considered the Best Original Screenplay favorite until “Green Book” surged, was set in Europe over 100 years ago, was perhaps more critic friendly than general audience friendly, and had a path to Best Picture that shrunk to the point where it looked likely to get shut out completely on Oscar night.

The Banshees of Inisherin” has a leading actor in Colin Farrell, who won the most critic awards of the season, but could well turn into a longshot for the Oscar, depending on how BAFTA and SAG play out. Likewise, “The Favourite” had a lead in Olivia Colman, who won the most Best Actress prizes of the season. Still, it looked like a longshot by the Oscars when Glenn Close appeared ready to be coronated, despite Colman’s BAFTA win.

The Banshees of Inisherin” has two nominees in one supporting category: Brendan Gleeson and Barry Keoghan. Yet, each is out of the running to win because of the season’s biggest sweeper in “Everything Everywhere All at Once’s” Ke Huy Quan. Likewise, “The Favourite” had two Best Supporting Actress nominees: Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone. Still, both lost on Oscar night to that season’s biggest individual winner in “If Beale Street Could Talk’s” Regina King – although Weisz’s win at BAFTA after King wasn’t even nominated gave some last-second suspense.

The Banshees of Inisherin’s” writer/director, Martin McDonagh, got nominated in both categories, yet the only chance he has for an individual win is for writing. Likewise, “The Favourite” earned a Best Director nomination for Yorgos Lanthimos and a Best Original Screenplay nomination for Tony McNamara and Deborah Davis. Still, it was a far stronger contender to win Best Original Screenplay. However, despite having the most decorated original screenplay of the season, “The Favourite” could not survive the controversial rise of “Green Book” – and when it won Best Original Screenplay instead, it virtually sealed Best Picture then and there.

Likewise, if “The Banshees of Inisherin” can’t hold on in Original Screenplay, that may decide the Best Picture race then and there. In this case, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” could be the film that virtually wraps up Best Picture with a Best Original Screenplay win to add to its likely win in Best Supporting Actor. But unlike with “The Favourite” and “Green Book,” the Original Screenplay prizes have been split 50-50 between “The Banshees of Inisherin” and “Everything Everywhere All at Once” all season.

The growing consensus is that since “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is becoming a more secure Best Picture favorite, it doesn’t necessarily need Best Original Screenplay to help win it all. In such a scenario, that presumably makes it more likely voters will spread the wealth and give “The Banshees of Inisherin” Best Original Screenplay as its sole collective Oscar win – like other recent Best Original Screenplay winners “Belfast,” “Promising Young Woman,” and “Get Out.”

However, “The Banshees of Inisherin” still has designs on Best Picture itself, as a screenplay win would put it one step away. Like “Green Book,” “Moonlight” and “CODA” did and like “Everything Everywhere All at Once” could still do, all it might take is one screenplay win and one acting win for “The Banshees of Inisherin” to steal Best Picture itself. And while Gleeson and Keoghan are massive longshots, and Farrell could wind up becoming one, the ace in the hole might be Kerry Condon in Best Supporting Actress – or at least it looked that way for a while.

Once Angela Bassett won both the Golden Globe and Critics Choice Awards for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” a Best Supporting Actress category that lacked a definitive favorite almost all year – even when Condon won the most awards in critics season – finally found one. Nonetheless, with Condon favored at BAFTA and with SAG looming a week later, there is still a little bit of time left for her to get back in the race. Yet because Condon couldn’t start her industry run earlier and opened such a door for the overdue Bassett to win, defeating her for the Oscar will not sit well with a lot of people, fans, and pundits now – especially if Bassett also wins either SAG, BAFTA or both first.

Likewise, should Brendan Fraser restart his comeback narrative with a win at SAG, BAFTA, or both, Farrell beating him for Best Actor at the Oscars will seem less joyous and more bitterly disappointing to a lot of viewers. But both are likely massive underdogs to “Elvis’s” Austin Butler anyway since Academy voters have seldom failed this entire century to give musical biopic nominees an acting win, especially for musical biopic Best Picture nominees.

With all of these factors going against “The Banshees of Inisherin,” the odds of it winning Best Picture might be longer than the odds that it gets shut out completely. The blueprint was set at the Critics Choice Awards when it didn’t win a single prize, which looks especially telling since critics have been the film’s most prominent champions this season. If they couldn’t find any room, it seems less likely that traditional Academy voters would do any better.

As such, the growing suspicion is that “The Banshees of Inisherin” will either win Screenplay and nothing else or win absolutely nothing if “Everything Everywhere All at Once” takes Screenplay instead. In this “spread the wealth” Oscar era, it would seem unlikely that a film with nine nominations would win nothing. Yet films like “American Hustle” and “The Irishman” have been shut out before with ten nominations, while former Best Picture favorites like “The Power of the Dog” and “Marriage Story” were ultimately lucky to get one mere collective win.

But there is one much more significant reason that “The Banshees of Inisherin” is bound to get at least something – and the biggest proof lies with “The Favourite.” When “The Favourite” lost Best Original Screenplay, there was no reason left to suspect it would win anything at all, despite its 10 Oscar nominations. Yet when all looked lost, Best Actress didn’t go to the long overdue and seemingly inevitable Close, but to Colman after all in the night’s most pleasant surprise by far. Although Colman got the accolades and the viral acceptance speech, it reflected on the power of her studio just as much as her own merit.

In recent years, Searchlight has succeeded Harvey Weinstein as the most powerful behind-the-scenes force of Oscar season. In the last five years alone, it won Best Picture for “The Shape of Water” and “Nomadland,” Best Director for Guillermo del Toro and Chloe Zhao, Best Actress for Colman, Jessica Chastain and Frances McDormand twice, Best Supporting Actor for Sam Rockwell and Best Adapted Screenplay for “Jojo Rabbit.” But with Colman’s victory right when she and “The Favourite” looked ready to go home empty-handed, it served as the biggest proof that Searchlight does not go home empty-handed on Oscar night.

If “The Banshees of Inisherin” was distributed by any other studio, it would be much easier to imagine it going winless next month. But as it stands, Searchlight is the biggest, if not the only, reason it will surely win at least one Oscar. In fact, if it loses Best Original Screenplay and Condon can’t rally back either, it will probably become “The Favourite” all over again – but in Farrell’s favor this time. If “The Banshees of Inisherin” wins nothing before Best Actor, it could be the best, if not the only, scenario where Farrell even has a chance, whether Butler or Fraser becomes the presumed favorite by then.

The Favourite” went from being presumed an Oscar favorite to a sleeper to a potential shutout before Searchlight pushed Colman ahead as its saving grace. Likewise, “The Banshees of Inisherin” could well go from presumed Oscar favorite to sleeper to staring at a potential shutout. Searchlight salvaged as much as it did for Colman and “The Favourite” and pushed Chastain to victory for “The Eyes Of Tammy Faye” and “Nightmare Alley” to that final Best Picture slot last year when it had pretty much nothing else to do in 2021/22. They’ve managed to get Best Picture nominations eight times over the last decade. It is hard to imagine “The Banshees of Inisherin” is the one Searchlight contender they can’t get just one measly major Oscar out of for now, especially considering its reception from critics, audiences, and the Academy.

Do you think The Banshees of Inisherin” will be like “The Favourite” on Oscar night and walk away with at least one major Oscar win? Do you have it predicted to win more than one? Please let us know in the comments section below or on our Twitter account and check out our latest Oscar predictions here.

You can follow Robert and hear more of his thoughts on the Oscars and Film on Twitter at @robertdoc1984

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