Richard Baneham, the Dublin-born visual effects and animation specialist who received Academy Awards for his work on the original Avatar and The Way of Water sequel, will be honored at the next Oscar Wilde Awards.
The 18th annual event, organized by the US-Ireland Alliance, is scheduled to return March 7 — in its traditional evening spot three days before the Oscars — to the Santa Monica home of Bad Robot, the production company of J.J. Abrams and Katie McGrath.
The casual bash celebrates the work of those from Ireland — and some who are not — who contribute to film, television and music.
“We’re delighted to honor Richie,” US-Ireland Alliance founder Trina Vargo said in a statement. “Not only is he creatively exceptional, but he is also beloved in the industry as someone who has always remained connected to his colleagues and friends in the film and animation industries in Ireland.”
Baneham, 53, studied art and design at Ballyfermot College in his hometown, then moved to Los Angeles in 1994 after graduation. He worked as an animator on such films as The Swan Princess (1994), Space Jam (1996), The Beautician and the Beast (1997), The Iron Giant (1999), Osmosis Jones (2001) and Avatar (2009).
He made the transition to CG while working on The Iron Giant, then did other effects work on films including the Lord of the Rings entries The Two Towers (2002) and The Return of the King (2003), The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005) and Alita: Battle Angel (2022).
Baneham also helped design and co-direct the “The Flight of Passage” and “Na’vi River Journey” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida, and he was an executive producer and second unit director on Avatar: The Way of Water (2022).
Other Oscar Wilde honorees will be announced in the coming weeks. Northern Ireland Screen is among the sponsors. Kerry Condon, Jessie Buckley and Eve Hewson were feted last year.
Honorees since the event’s start in 2006 have included Norman Lear, Jim Sheridan, Catherine O’Hara, Hylda Queally, Glenn Close, Ruth Negga, Saoirse Ronan, Martin Short, Kenneth Branagh, Carrie Fisher, Jamie Dornan, Brendan Gleeson, Colm Meaney, Van Morrison, Terry George, Michelle Williams, Neil Jordan and late THR writer-editor Steve Brennan.