Archive for March 15, 2014

Irish Movies, Irish Stars and Irish Awards–The Irish Oscars!

March 15, 2014

Blair StoverIt’s March, which means Academy Awards, but today, why not take a completely different approach and give a nod to another great March event—St. Patrick’s Day—and talk about movies with great Irish characters? Combining the idea of the Oscars with Irish film, here is a list of my personal favorite movies with Irish themes or Irish actors and why I like them.

Best “Serious” Irish Movie: Dancing at Lughnasa

To start with, it features Meryl Streep, but that is not really the best thing about this movie. Dancing at Lughnasa was a play before it was a movie and both do a wonderful job of portraying a segment of the human experience we might never think about. Five unmarried Irish sisters deal with singleness, illegitimacy, raising a child and the start of World War II in this beautiful film that is not only “arty” but also has a good story line. Michael Gambon, Sophie Thompson and an all-star cast head up this scintillating film.

Best “Action” Irish Movie: The Boondock Saints

If you don’t like bad language and blood, this movie is not for you. On the other hand, if you love action, you cannot miss it! The Boondock Saints is a cool movie because it was never really supposed to happen. The film was slated for the dustbin when it was rescued and turned into a direct-to-video cult phenomenon. Starring Sean Patrick Flanery, Norman Reedus and the incomparable Willem Dafoe, the movie generated a great deal of controversy and stands out as unique in the annals of “good guy vs. bad guy” films.

Best “Kids” Irish Movie: The Secret of Kells

Kids and adults will enjoy the breathtaking animation as well as learn something about the history of Ireland. This is the story of the famed Book of Kells, the Irish illuminated manuscript that highlights the beauty of ancient monastic art. Starring the voice talents of Evan McGuire and Christen Mooney, this movie is one you can enjoy with the entire family.

Best Irish Actor: Liam Neeson

Since his roles as the protagonist in Ethan Frome and as Oskar Schindler in Schindler’s List, we all knew Liam Neeson was something special. His latest films have only served to support that belief. He is probably one of the most versatile actors on the screen today and consistently shows his talents by taking on “stretch” roles, although he can still play a good tough guy when he wants to!

Best Irish Actress: Maureen O’Hara

Sure, we are going back a few years, but Maureen O’Hara, the beautiful redhead from Miracle on 34th Street and The Quiet Man opposite John Wayne, deserves the crown for most entrancing Irish actress. Maureen epitomized the Hollywood starlet but managed to get her teeth into some really good roles, as well!

That is my take on the Irish Oscars—Erin go braugh!

The History of The Oscars

March 1, 2014

Blair StoverThe 86th annual Academy Awards, popularly known as the “Oscars,” was held recently, with 12 Years a Slave winning “Best Picture,” Matthew McConaughey named “Best Actor” and Cate Blanchett named “Best Actress.” While most of us at least nod in the direction of the Oscars each year and a few of us are glued to our sets, few people really know the history of the Academy Awards or how they came to be. Since they have been going strong now for 86 years, perhaps it is time to educate ourselves about this fascinating American film staple.

The Beginnings

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was founded in 1927 as a way to promote harmony between film studios and unions. Today, the Academy has grown to promote excellence in the film industry. The academy is composed of 6,000 filmmakers from the United States and around the world, and routinely gives money in the form of scholarships and other financial incentives to upcoming filmmakers.

The first Oscar awards were given on May 16, 1929, to 15 people who achieved special things in the motion picture industry. The ceremony lasted approximately 15 minutes, and the winners had been announced in advance to the media. Clearly, the very first awards from the Academy were quite different from those of today!

How The Oscars Are Decided

Most people have voiced, at some point or another, disappointment with the Oscar choices in one category or another. There are currently 24 awards given, covering many of the aspects of the film industry. There are also five special categories for awards in chosen areas. A film must be a feature film of at least 40 minutes and must have opened no earlier than January 1 of the previous year in order to qualify for consideration.

Some people claim that the Oscars are simply a money-maker for the film industry. Others complain that the voting representatives either pay too little attention to critically-acclaimed films or focus on “artsy” films that the public does not like. Further, some actors have refused to accept their Oscar awards because of various personal or political beliefs.However, the Oscars continues to fascinate most of us and will probably do so for the future, as well. Ultimately, the Oscars represent a snapshot of the film culture at any given time in American history.

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