Oscar Vault Monday – In the Name of the Father, 1993 (dir. Jim Sheridan)

In The Name of the Father was Jim Sheridan’s second film, his first being 1989’s My Left Foot, which itself was nominated for several Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director (it won for Best Actor, Daniel Day-Lewis and Best Supporting Actress, Brenda Fricker). This film was a slightly fictionalized account of the Guildford Four, who were falsely convicted of an IRA pub bombing in 1974. They weren’t proven innocent until 1989. I don’t really want to get further into their story, as that would spoil the film entirely. In The Name of the Father was nominated for seven Academy Awards, although it failed to win a single category:  Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Editing, Best Supporting Actress Emma Thompson,  Best Supporting Actor Pete Postlethwaite, Best Actor Daniel Day-Lewis, Best Director and Best Picture. It is currently #226 on IMDb’s Top 250 user-generated list. The other films nominated for Best Picture that year were: The Fugitive, The Piano, The Remains of the Day and winner Schindler’s List.

I love both this film and Sheridan’s debut film My Left Foot. I also quite enjoyed Brothers (though I know many who had issues with it). Unfortunately, the only other film of his I’ve seen is Dream House, which was a giant mess of a film. I’m told both In America and The Boxer are great and I plan to see those sooner rather than later. I’m not going to go into the plot of the film too much because I don’t want to spoil anything, since part of the what makes the film great is how you see things that don’t really make sense until later and when they do you go, “ah!”

What can you even say about Daniel Day-Lewis? He made 9 movies in the 80s, 5 in the 90s and only 4 in the 00s. If Spielberg’s Lincoln is the only movie he makes this decade I will cry. He is always good. ALWAYS. I’ve seen 11 of his films, so I guess I need to hurry up and see the other seven. I think few would argue that he is one of the greatest actors of his generation (ever maybe?). He’s got such a passion and such a talent for disappearing into his characters. He’s such an ass at the beginning of this film and then gradually goes through such a transformation, that only an actor of his calibre could really pull off. He lost the Oscar to Tom Hanks in Philadelphia and I can’t really blame the Academy for that decision. I’m just glad I didn’t have to make that choice. I mean, Liam Neeson in Schindler’s List was in that mix, too!

Pete Postlethwaite was one of those “oh, yeah, that guy!” kind of actors, who was always so good (I mean, Lost World: Jurassic Park, amirite?), but most people probably never knew his name. It’s such a shame. He is so incredibly brilliant in this film and most deservedly received an Oscar nomination. He lost to Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive and I’m still trying to figure out why. Really, I’ve never understood The Fugitive’s Best Picture nomination, let alone Jones’s win. Actually, I’d’ve given that award to any of the other nominees. Ralph Fiennes in Schindler’s List, Leonardo DiCaprio in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and John Malkovich in In The Line of Fire rounded out that category; none of which have managed to snag that illusive Oscar gold.

Emma Thompson is a flawless goddess and deserves all the awards. Coming off of a Best Actress win 1992’s Howards End (her 5th film), she was nominated not once, but twice in 1993: in the Best Actress category for The Remains of the Day and the Best Supporting Actress category for this film (both were Best Picture contenders). She lost in both categories to Holly Hunter and Anna Paquin in The Piano. In 1995 she won a bajillion awards for her screenplay for Sense and Sensibility (including the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar) and was also nominated for Best Actress for that film. In this film she plays a tough as nails attorney who takes the case of the Guildford Four and despite the odds, comes out on top.

Lastly, I have to mention John Lynch a bit. Partially because of his ridiculous hair in the film and also because I really love him in Sliding Doors. Although he’s been active in films and television on both sides of the pond since the 1980s, he’s never really made much of a splash in either country. I’m not sure why, but I always have my fingers crossed that he will.

If you are interested in watching this film and are a Netflix subscriber, you are in luck as they currently have in available to stream!

About Marya E. Gates

Cinephile to the max.

Posted on September 16, 2012, in Oscar Vault Monday and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. What a wonderful film this is. I too do not even begin to get why The Fugitive was so elevated unless it was linked to the Love for the TV Series. And Fiennes!?! what a performance!!!!! Oh well. With In the Name of the Father I was holding my breath the whole time.

    T think Daniel Day-Lewis is one of those once in a generation actors.

  2. When I originally commented I seem to have clicked the
    -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on every time a comment is
    added I receive 4 emails with the same comment.
    There has to be an easy method you are able to remove me from that service?
    Many thanks!

  3. I found absolutely no fault in any of the performances in this film…it’s a very well told story and it’s gut-wrenching every time I see it. I agree with the commenter who said that Daniel Day-Lewis is a once-in-a-generation type of talent.

    Re: John Lynch: I thought his screen time, scarce as it was, was superb in this film, and his very believable performance is what made me look him up and find another that I was able to share with my family, “The Secret of Roan Inish”. As for his hair….the majority of the film was set in 1974, making his hairstyle quite common and therefore not ridiculous at all for that time period. I guess you had to be there. 🙂

  1. Pingback: Oscar Vault Monday – Sense and Sensibility, 1995 (dir. Ang Lee) | the diary of a film history fanatic

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  3. Pingback: In the name of the father (1993) – Irish history through film

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