My Left Foot

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My Left Foot
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJim Sheridan
Screenplay by
Based onMy Left Foot
by Christy Brown
Produced byNoel Pearson
CinematographyJack Conroy
Edited byJ. Patrick Duffner
Music byElmer Bernstein
Distributed byPalace Pictures
Release date
  • 24 February 1989 (1989-02-24)
Running time
103 minutes[2]
Box office$14.7 million[5]

My Left Foot: The Story of Christy Brown is a 1989 biographical comedy-drama film directed by Jim Sheridan (in his director debut) adapted by Sheridan and Shane Connaughton from the 1954 memoir of the same name by Christy Brown. A co-production of Ireland and the United Kingdom, it stars Daniel Day-Lewis as Brown, an Irish man born with cerebral palsy, who could control only his left foot. Brown grew up in a poor working-class family, and became a writer and artist.[6] Brenda Fricker, Ray McAnally, Hugh O'Conor, Fiona Shaw, and Cyril Cusack are featured in supporting roles.

The film was theatrically released on 24 February 1989 to critical acclaim. Reviewers praised the film's screenplay and direction, its message, and especially the performances of Day-Lewis and Fricker.[7][8] It was also a commercial success, grossing $14.7 million on a £600,000 budget. At the 62nd Academy Awards, the film received five nominations, including for the Best Picture, with Day-Lewis and Fricker winning Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress, respectively. In 2018, the British Film Institute ranked it as the 53rd greatest British film of the 20th century.[9]


In 1932, Christy Brown is born into a Dublin family of 15. Doctors discover he has severe cerebral palsy. Christy is unable to walk or talk. He is loved and supported by his family, especially his mother. One day, Christy's mother trips down the stairs while in labour and Christy was the only person home to see it. He alerted some neighbours to help. Christy's father had never believed Christy would amount to anything, but becomes proud after witnessing him use his left foot, the only body part he can fully control, to write the word "mother" on the floor with a piece of chalk.

Consequently, Christy seeks a hobby in painting. The neighbourhood youngsters include him in their activities, like street football, but when he paints a picture and gives it to a girl he likes, she returns it. Later, his father loses his job and the family faces exceptionally difficult hardships, so Christy devises a plan to help his brothers steal coal to their mother's dismay. Christy's mother, who had been gradually gathering some savings in a tin in the fireplace, finally saves enough to buy him a wheelchair.

Christy is then introduced to Eileen Cole, who takes him to her school for cerebral palsy patients and persuades a friend of hers to hold an exhibition of his work. Christy falls in love with Cole, but when he learns during the dinner that she is engaged to be married, he considers suicide. His mother helps him build a private studio for himself, but soon afterward his father dies of a stroke, and during the wake Christy instigates a brawl. At this point, Christy starts writing his autobiography, My Left Foot. Cole returns and they resume their friendship. Later, Christy attends a charity event where he meets his handler, a nurse named Mary Carr. She begins reading his autobiography. He asks Mary to go out with him and they then happily leave the fete together.



Day-Lewis became interested in the project when he read the opening scene, which features him, as Brown, using his left foot to place a phonograph record on a player and then placing a needle onto it so that it will play.[10] He said of the scene: "I knew it couldn't be done... and that intrigued me."[10] Many scenes were filmed through a mirror, as he could only manipulate his right foot to perform the actions seen in the film. He spent some time preparing for the film at Brown's alma mater in Dublin. He later returned there for a visit, with his Academy Award.[11]

Day-Lewis was known for his extreme method acting, and insisted on staying in character during the production of the film, refusing to do anything that Brown could not do. This meant that members of the film crew had to move the actor around in a wheelchair, lift him over obstacles, and even feed him.[12][13][14]


Critical response[edit]

My Left Foot received widespread critical acclaim. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 98% of 44 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 8.2/10. The website's consensus reads: "No doubt most will come to My Left Foot for Daniel Day-Lewis's performance, but the movie's refusal to go downbeat will keep it in viewers' minds afterwards."[15] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 97 out of 100, based on 18 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[16]

Roger Ebert gave the film four out of four stars, writing: "My Left Foot is a great film for many reasons, but the most important is that it gives us such a complete picture of this man's life. It is not an inspirational movie, although it inspires. It is not a sympathetic movie, although it inspires sympathy. It is the story of a stubborn, difficult, blessed, and gifted man who was dealt a bad hand, who played it brilliantly, and who left us some good books, some good paintings and the example of his courage. It must not have been easy."[17]

In 2015, The Hollywood Reporter polled hundreds of academy members, asking them to re-vote on past controversial decisions. Academy members indicated that, given a second chance, they would award the 1990 Academy Award for Best Picture to My Left Foot instead of Driving Miss Daisy.[18]


List of awards and nominations
Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result
Academy Awards[19] 26 March 1990 Best Picture Noel Pearson Nominated
Best Director Jim Sheridan Nominated
Best Actor Daniel Day-Lewis Won
Best Supporting Actress Brenda Fricker Won
Best Adapted Screenplay Shane Connaughton and Jim Sheridan Nominated
British Academy Film Awards[20] 11 March 1990 Best Film My Left Foot Nominated
Best Actor Daniel Day-Lewis Won
Best Supporting Actor Ray McAnally (posthumous) Won
Best Adapted Screenplay Shane Connaughton and Jim Sheridan Nominated
Best Makeup Ken Jennings Nominated
European Film Awards[21] 25 November 1989 Young European Film of the Year My Left Foot Nominated
European Director of the Year Jim Sheridan Nominated
European Actor of the Year Daniel Day-Lewis Nominated
Golden Globe Awards[22] 20 January 1990 Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama Nominated
Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture Brenda Fricker Nominated
Independent Spirit Awards[23] 24 March 1990 Best Foreign Film My Left Foot Won
Los Angeles Film Critics Association[24] 16 January 1990 Best Actor Daniel Day-Lewis Won
Best Supporting Actress Brenda Fricker Won
National Board of Review[25] 26 February 1990 Top Ten Films My Left Foot Won
National Society of Film Critics[26] 8 January 1990 Best Actor Daniel Day-Lewis Won
New York Film Critics Circle[27] 14 January 1990 Best Film My Left Foot Won
Best Actor Daniel Day-Lewis Won
Writers Guild of America Awards 18 March 1990 Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium Shane Connaughton and Jim Sheridan Nominated
Young Artist Awards[28] March or April 1990 Best Young Actor Supporting Role in a Motion Picture Hugh O'Conor Won
Best Motion Picture – Drama My Left Foot Nominated

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jackson, Laura. Daniel Day-Lewis: The Biography Archived 31 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine. John Blake, 2005. p. 137.
  2. ^ "My Left Foot". British Board of Film Classification. Archived from the original on 13 August 2020. Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  3. ^ a b "My Left Foot (1989)" Archived 26 October 2017 at the Wayback Machine. British Board of Film Classification.
  4. ^ GDN Online Desk (27 August 2017). "Hollywood: 15 low-budget movies that did well at the Box Office". Gulf Daily News. Archived from the original on 14 July 2018. Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  5. ^ "My Left Foot (1989)". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on 9 November 2019. Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  6. ^ The Irish Filmography 1896-1996; Red Mountain Press; 1996. page 43
  7. ^ "My Left Foot". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 29 January 2023.
  8. ^ "My Left Foot, critic reviews". Metacritic. Fandom, Inc. Retrieved 10 September 2018.
  9. ^ British Film Institute – Top 100 British Films Archived 12 January 2018 at the Wayback Machine (1999). Retrieved August 27, 2016
  10. ^ a b Hirschberg, Lynn (8 December 2007). "Daniel Day-Lewis: the perfectionist". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 21 February 2016. Retrieved 27 October 2015.
  11. ^ Jordan, Anthony J. Daniel Day-Lewis, Gentleman. A Memoir. pp. 1–22.
  12. ^ "Daniel Day-Lewis' Craziest Method Acting Stories". Esquire. 18 January 2018. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  13. ^ Thomas, Matthew (15 October 2021). "Why Daniel Day-Lewis Once Made Crew Members Feed Him by Hand Daily". TheThings. Retrieved 15 October 2021.
  14. ^ Russell, Calum (21 November 2021). "Daniel Day-Lewis' extraordinary method acting in 'My Left Foot'". Far Out Magazine. Retrieved 21 November 2021.
  15. ^ "My Left Foot". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Archived from the original on 28 November 2017. Retrieved 29 January 2023. Edit this at Wikidata
  16. ^ "My Left Foot". Metacritic. Fandom, Inc. Archived from the original on 10 June 2018. Retrieved 10 September 2018.
  17. ^ Ebert, Roger (2 February 1990). "My Left Foot movie review & film summary (1990)". Archived from the original on 13 July 2018. Retrieved 13 July 2018.
  18. ^ "Recount! Oscar Voters Today Would Make 'Brokeback Mountain' Best Picture Over 'Crash'". The Hollywood Reporter. 18 February 2015. Archived from the original on 22 January 2019. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  19. ^ "The 62nd Academy Awards | 1990". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 17 October 2011.
  20. ^ "Film in 1990 | BAFTA Awards". British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Archived from the original on 1 July 2017. Retrieved 3 July 2022.
  21. ^ "European Film Awards : Archive". European Film Academy. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  22. ^ "My Left Foot | Golden Globes". Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Archived from the original on 28 January 2015. Retrieved 3 July 2022.
  23. ^ "My Left Foot (1989)". The New York Times. 19 October 2014. Archived from the original on 19 October 2014. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  24. ^ "15th Annual Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards". Los Angeles Film Critics Association. Archived from the original on 13 October 2015. Retrieved 3 July 2022.
  25. ^ "1989 Award Winners". National Board of Review. Retrieved 3 July 2022.
  26. ^ "Critics' Award to 'Drugstore Cowboy'". The New York Times. 8 January 1990. Archived from the original on 23 January 2015. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  27. ^ "Critics Circle Selects 'Left Foot' for Best Film and Actor". The New York Times. 19 December 1989. Retrieved 3 July 2022.
  28. ^ "Eleventh Annual Youth in Film Awards (1988-1989)". Young Artist Awards. Archived from the original on 9 April 2014. Retrieved 31 March 2011.

External links[edit]