A nation keeps its fingers crossed for Oscar hope Saoirse
Preparations are under way for the 90th annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.
Irish actress Saoirse Ronan (23) will be among the stars walking the red carpet tomorrow at the star-studded event, where she is nominated for Best Actress for her role in Lady Bird.
Her legions of fans are praying that this is the year she will take home the gong, having previously been nominated for Atonement in 2008 and Brooklyn in 2016.
However, film buffs have put their money on Frances McDormand bagging the award for her role in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
The 60-year-old took home the same honour at the Screen Actors Guild Awards in January, a ceremony that often closely mirrors the Oscars in terms of its winners.
However, bookmaker Paddy Power has a firm belief that this is Saoirse's year.
While she is 10/1 to win against McDormand's 1/14, the bookies have covered all Saoirse bets.
"It's cost us about €30,000 all told, but the look on our customers' faces when we told them was Oscar-worthy," a spokesperson said.
The other actresses in the lead category are Margot Robbie (I, Tonya), Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water) and Meryl Streep (The Post).
In Lady Bird, Saoirse plays Christine 'Lady Bird' MacPherson, a teenager growing up in Sacramento, California, who wants to leave and find success in New York.
Speaking after receiving her Oscar nomination, she said: "To have been a part of a film like Lady Bird was a true privilege and I am incred- ibly grateful to the Academy for recognising this wonderful story about the beauty and strength of women."
Elsewhere, London-Irish writer-director Martin McDonagh is nominated for Three Billboards, which is up for Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture.
Irish designer Consolata Boyle is nominated for Best Costume Design for her work on Victoria and Abdul, while Co Kilkenny animation studio Cartoon Saloon's The Breadwinner is nominated for Best Animated Feature.