Buddy Comedy Duo Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson Enter the Oscar Race for ‘The Banshees of Inisherin’

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If Colin Farrell doesn’t get an Oscar nom this year for “The Banshees of Inisherin,” he never will. That was all I could think after watching his work in Martin McDonagh’s latest dark comedy.

And who would have thought that Farrell and Brendan Gleeson would become the perfect comedic duo of our day? I thought the pair’s magic in “In Bruges” (2008) was a one-hit wonder, but with “The Banshees of Inisherin,” the two men have recaptured their old alchemy.

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The latest pitch black romp from “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri” director and scribe McDonagh harnesses the simplest premise in recent memory: a man tries to understand why his best friend doesn’t want to talk to him anymore. What unfolds within that premise are moral complexities and refreshing takes on love and forgiveness.

Over 25 years in Hollywood, Farrell has had his share of setbacks and resurrections with his story resembling that of Robert Downey Jr. He was a tabloid-tinged Icarus, who has remade himself into one of our finest screen actors with a string of impressive outings in a wide range of films. It’s time to give him his due. Just look at the year he’s had. In addition to his work in “The Banshees of Inisherin,” the Irish heartthrob disappeared under mounds of prosthetics as the Penguin in Matt Reeves’ “The Batman” then portraying a heroic cave diver risking it all to save trapped children in Ron Howard’s “Thirteen Lives.” If there’s any justice, all those efforts will result in Farrell’s first Oscar nomination. It’s about damn time.

Gleeson is a treasured and widely respected actor with over four decades in the biz. His dry wit and psychologically thoughtful turn may be enough to bring him his first nom. There’s a masterclass exchange between Farrell and Gleeson that left me subscribing to the theory that Gleeson could very well be this season’s Jim Broadbent. That’s a reference to the veteran character actor’s win for “Iris” (2001) after a lifetime of memorable and largely overlooked turns.

Gleeson will likely be campaigned in best supporting actor slot even though he’s really the co-lead with Farrell.

And mark this down, international actress Kerry Condon has arrived. Playing the gutter-mouth sister, she slices and dices in key scenes that are sure to make her a force to be reckoned in the supporting actress race this season.

Barry Keoghan has quietly been climbing the charts of exciting thespians. The wider public may recognize him from “Eternals” (2021) or his one-scene cameo in “The Batman” as the Joker. But for those of us that who declare ourselves, “day ones” with Keoghan, “Dunkirk” and “The Killing of Sacred Deer” left us excited for everything he offered up. “Banshees” confirms his promise and your heart will swoon in a beautiful exchange between him and Condon by the water that has him pitching a possible future together. But Gleeson seems like more of a sure thing and Keoghan’s minimal screen time will be his greatest challenge.

It’s not clear what “Banshees” can muster in the technical races. If it’s popular than it has a chance in categories like cinematography with its sweeping landscape shots, editing, and for Carter Burwell’s somber score.

“Banshees” has one thing going for it. There’s a lot of depressing movies and films with larded running times. McDonagh’s film clocks in under two hours and doesn’t hold back with the chuckles.

It’s worth noting that McDonagh, once the enfant terrible of the theater scene now settled into a slightly more muted middle age, isn’t for everyone. Even “Three Billboards” faced a divisive reception with some critics decrying its violence and vigilantism. “Banshees” will inspire many more flaming hot take. But here’s a hot take: that kind of passionate debate is not always a bad thing.

Read Variety’s Awards Circuit predictions to keep up with the latest Oscar race updates.

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