My Left Foot (1989): Jim Sheridan’s Biopic of Christy Brown, Starring Daniel Day-Lewis in Oscar-Winning Performance

In 1989, Jim Sheridan’s “My Left Foot, a low-budget British import about paraplegic artist-writer Christy Brown, took the movie world by storm.

Adapted to the screen by Shane Connaughton and Jim Sheridan from the book of the same title by Christy Brown, the movie tells the story of Christy Brown, an Irish guy born with cerebral palsy who could only control his left foot.

Christy Brown grew up in a poor, working class family, and became a writer and artist against all odds.  Emotionally gripping but decidedly unsentimental and lacking in pathos, it deviates from the Hollywood biopic format by capturing with candor and realism the struggle, anger, and inner life of Brown, including need to be loved and desired.

A dark horse in the awards season, the movie won the New York Film Critics Circle for Best Picture and Best Actor for Daniel Day-Lewis, who then went on to win the Oscar against tough competition from Hollywood favorite son, Tom Cruise, also playing a paraplegic in the Vietnam biopic, “Born on the Fourth of July.”

Oscar Nominations: 5

Picture, produced by Noel Pearson

Director: Jim Sheridan

Screenplay (Adapted): Jim Sheridan and Shane Connaughton

Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis

Supporting Actress: Brenda Fricker


Oscar Awards: 2


Supporting Actress


Oscar Context

The most nominated film in 1989, “Driving Miss Daisy” received four Oscars out of its nine nominations, including Picture, Screenplay, and Best Actress.  The biggest scandal was that the film’s director, Bruce Beresford, failed to receive recognition from his peers in the Directors Branch.

The other Best Picture nominees represented a mixed bag in genre and quality: Oliver Stone’s Vietnam drama “Born on the Fourth of July” with 8 nominations and 2 Oscars, “My Left Foot” with 5, “Dead Poets Society” with 4, and “Field of Dreams” with 3.

Oliver Stone won Best Director for “Born on the Fourth of July” and Alfred Uhry the Adapted Screenplay for “Driving Miss Daisy.”

Released by:

Miramax (Ferndale/Granada Production, Ireland)