Oscars: Scotland can look forward to many more good nights at awards – Angus Robertson

The 2023 Oscars have been awarded with the big winner being Everything Everywhere All at Once, which won an astonishing seven awards including best picture, director, original screenplay and three acting prizes.
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The German-language World War One epic All Quiet on the Western Front came second with four awards – best international feature, original score, production design and cinematography. Scotland has much to celebrate from this year’s Oscars, with one prize-winner and another nominee: Chris Burdon from St Andrews won best sound for the Top Gun sequel Maverick, while Lesley Paterson from Stirling was nominated for best adapted screenplay of Erich Maria Remarque’s WWI epic.

Chris Burdon joked on the Hollywood red carpet about it being the most significant Oscar moment for St Andrews since the filming of Chariots of Fire: “I was in St Andrews when that was being filmed on the West Sands,” he laughed. Burdon is much sought after by the world’s leading directors and producers and recently worked on the award-winning Banshees of Inisherin.

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Lesley Paterson, who has already won a screenplay Bafta for All Quiet on the Western Front, was unsuccessful in the same Oscar category, but is already working on her next project. "I'm really excited about that one," she said. "It's a psychological thriller, set in the Highlands of Scotland.”

Scottish film talent has a long and proud tradition at the Oscars with nearly 20 winners or nominees over the decades. Scotland’s best-known screen star, Sir Sean Connery, won best supporting actor for his role in The Untouchables, Tilda Swinton won best supporting Actress for her role in Michael Clayton, Peter Capaldi won the Oscar for best live action short film for Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life, and Annie Lennox won best song for Into the West from The Return of the Lion King.

Glasgow film-maker Kevin Macdonald may not have been rewarded for his excellent The Last King of Scotland, but he did win an Oscar for best documentary for One Day in September. John Hodge was nominated for bestaAdapted Screenplay for Trainspotting, Tom Conti from Paisley was nominated for best actor in Reuben, Reuben, and Armando Iannucci was nominated for best adapted screenplay for the political satire In the Loop.

Going further back into earlier decades: Deborah Kerr from Hillhead was nominated six times for best actress and received an Academy Honorary Award, screenwriter Neil Paterson from Perthshire won an Oscar for the script of Room at the Top, Stirlingshire-born John Grierson won best live-action short for Seawards the Great Ships, Norman McLaren won the best documentary Oscar for Neighbours, Mary Ure from Glasgow was nominated for best supporting actress for Sons and Lovers, and child actor Jon Whiteley from Monymusk won an honorary ‘juvenile’ Academy Award for his roles in The Kidnappers.

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We even owe the establishment of the Oscars indirectly to a Scot; Glasgow-born Frank Lloyd helped found the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and himself won the best director Oscar twice.

Chris Burdon (right) won an Oscar for best sound for Top Gun: Maverick (Picture: Doug Peters/PA Wire)Chris Burdon (right) won an Oscar for best sound for Top Gun: Maverick (Picture: Doug Peters/PA Wire)
Chris Burdon (right) won an Oscar for best sound for Top Gun: Maverick (Picture: Doug Peters/PA Wire)

Scotland’s screen sector is going from strength to strength, as seen recently with the internationally acclaimed Aftersun. With new studios opening across Scotland, a new generation of on-screen stars and those in key film-making roles behind the camera can look forward to unparalleled opportunities at home and globally, and more Oscars too.

Angus Robertson is the SNP MSP for Edinburgh Central and Constitution, External Affairs and Culture Secretary

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