Northern Ireland

Irish actors Barry Keoghan, Paul Mescal and Cillian Murphy among Bafta nominees

EE British Academy Film Awards 2023 – Arrivals – London
Barry Keoghan, star of Saltburn, is among this year's Bafta nominees. PICTURE: IAN WEST/PA

Barry Keoghan, Paul Mescal and Cillian Murphy are among the Irish actors nominated for this year’s British Academy of Film and Television (BAFTA) film awards.

Murphy has received a nod in the best actor category for Oppenheimer and will compete against fellow Irishman Keoghan for Saltburn.

Murphy, who plays J Robert Oppenheimer, the theoretical physicist described as the father of the atomic bomb, said “working on the film was an experience I’ll never forget”.

He also paid tribute to director Christopher Nolan after the film was nominated for 13 Baftas, including best director.

“I couldn’t be happier that the British Academy recognised so many of my collaborators on Oppenheimer, especially Chris Nolan,” he added.

Mescal is nominated in the supporting actor category for his role in All of Us Strangers, which also featured another Irish actor, Andrew Scott.

Irish actor Paul Mescal
Irish actor Paul Mescal

Keoghan and Mescal are previous BAFTA winners for The Banshees of Inisherin and Normal People, respectively.

But it is British filmmaker Nolan’s epic biopic Oppenheimer that leads the nominations with 13.

It was a box office juggernaut when it was released in cinemas last year on the same day as Barbie - sparking the Barbenheimer phenomenon.

Nolan has never won the directing Bafta, but will face competition from All Of Us Strangers director Andrew Haigh, Anatomy Of A Fall’s Justine Triet, The Holdovers’ Alexander Payne, Maestro’s Cooper and Jonathan Glazer for The Zone Of Interest.

The cast of Oppenheimer
The cast of Oppenheimer. PICTURE: IAN WEST/PA

Oppenheimer’s Emily Blunt and Robert Downey Jr are also nominated for supporting prizes.

The movie will compete for the best film prize against the gothic fairytale Poor Things, which includes the Dublin-based Element Pictures among its producers.

It scored 11 nods, among them Irish producers Ed Guiney and Andrew Lowe and cinematographer Robbie Ryan.

The Irish acting duo of Murphy and Keoghan will compete against Bradley Cooper for Maestro, Colman Domingo for Rustin, Paul Giamatti for The Holdovers, and Teo Yoo for Past Lives to take home the best actor prize.

Barbie star Margot Robbie received a nod in the best actress category.

She will compete against Poor Things star Emma Stone, Carey Mulligan for Maestro, Sandra Huller for Anatomy Of A Fall, Fantasia Barrino for The Colour Purple and Vivian Oparah for British romantic comedy Rye Lane.

Margot Robbie has been nominated for best actress for her role in Barbie (Warner Bros)
Margot Robbie has been nominated for best actress for her role in Barbie. PICTURE: WARNER BROS

In the outstanding debut category, the film Earth Mama, which includes Irish filmmakers Shirley O’Connor and Medb Riordan among its producers, is nominated.

Bafta chair Sara Putt told the PA news agency: “I think the hallmark I would give this year’s list is variety and quality.

“I think it’s an incredibly competitive year.

“And in variety, that is obviously about the filmmakers and the stories they are choosing to tell and my goodness, what a range of stories.”

Sara Putt, chair of BAFTA
Sara Putt, chair of BAFTA during the nominations for the EE Bafta Film Awards 2024 in London. PICTURE: IAN WEST/PA WIRE

She added: “I think where Bafta can and does play a part is that we are encouraging our increasingly diverse membership - and we’ve worked very hard to make sure that our membership reflects the population as a whole - to watch as great a variety of films as possible.

“Not just in cinemas, not just at screenings, but also on Bafta View [the screening platform for voting members] which is working so well for us now.

“And when you create those conversations by getting people to watch all of those films, I think you get what we’re seeing here, which is a really broad and diverse list of amazing films.”

She added: “What what I love with films like Oppenheimer and indeed Barbie, which has five nominations, and which sparked a frenzy last summer of getting people into cinemas and watching films, is being reflected in our awards because that is so much part of our role.

“We are here to encourage those conversations, to get people watching films, and to get people going to their cinemas. And that’s a really exciting role to be able to play.”

The EE Bafta film awards will be hosted by David Tennant at the Royal Festival Hall on February 18 and will air on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.