Paddywhackery: London Film Critics' Circle Awards renames categories after using 'British' for Irish stars

The group nominated five Irish people in their 'British' sections – and its clumsy definition of 'British' doesn't help matters

Every winter, the film industry’s glitziest nights of the year take place, with the best and brightest of the year’s cinematic offerings awarded with splendour and snubs, and more ‘Thanks yous’ than truly seems necessary. But as with many Irish people achieving career bests, the old cultural superiority complex of our friends across the Irish Sea rears its foolhardy head – and claims some Irish people are Brits.

Today the London Critics’ Circle announced their nominations for its 3th annual film awards, and in the process listed an Irish actress, an Irish short filmmaker, an Irish writer, and two Irish actors in their associated categories that celebrate the best of the British film industry.

New York-born Carlow actress Saoirse Ronan continued her run of nods for her role as an Irish émigrée to New York in the 1950s in the John Crowley-directed Brooklyn ­– which is also nominated as ‘British Film of the Year’.

Emma Donoghue, who lives in Canada, is nominated for her screenplay for Room, an adaptation of her Booker Prize-shortlisted novel of the same name, and directed by Irishman Lenny Abrahamson. Benjamin Cleary, the writer and director of Sutterer, hails from Dublin and is nominated in the ‘British Short Film of the Year’ category.

Michael Fassbender and Colin Farrell will both compete as Irishmen nominated in the ‘Best British Actor’ category, for their work in Steve Jobs/Macbeth/Slow West and The Lobster/Miss Julie respectively.

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In 2010, the Critics’ Circle published a statement on who is and who is not eligible to claim one of its gongs, saying that the ‘British’ categories are used to distinguish from the general awards categories.

“Irish citizens are eligible for these awards but many Irish actors and directors work on what are technically British films and their work deserves recognition,” the statement reads.

“There is no intention to suggest that Irish talent is British should an Irish citizen be nominated in the ‘British’ categories and all Irish nominees know this. It simply recognises the complex nature of film making, a collaborative affair often crossing national boundaries.”

In response to the potential criticism some Irish people might wish to level towards the Circle, the group nails its colours to the mast with the following declaration: “Patriotic Irish people with genuine issues to raise will be replied to – those who send obscene e-mails will not.”

Deep breaths, everyone, deep breaths...

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UPDATE: Late this afternoon, the London Critics' Circle made the decision to rename the category in an effort to recognise national boundaries and citizenships within the British and Irish film industries.

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