Suffice to say that it received its highest profile in the form of a sure-to-lose nomination for the Best Animated Feature Oscar at the 2010 Academy Awards, but The Secret of Kells is no runner-up or underdog when it comes to imagination or creativity. Turning the origin story of the fabled Book of Kells into a fanciful but never frivolous work of historical fiction, co-directors Tomm Moore and Nora Twomey find a perfect synthesis between childhood exuberance and grown-up restraint, creating a singular and sensational animated work that needs no formal reward to be recognized as a great achievement.
In the film, a young boy named Brendan (Evan McGuire) struggles to understand the world outside the walls of the Abbey of Kells, which his stern uncle, the Abbott Cellach (Brendan Gleeson), has forbidden him from experiencing. Obsessed with illumination, a meticulous process by which the prophesied Book of Iona was created, Brendan soon falls in with Brother Aidan (Mick Lally), a master illustrator who offers to teach him how to draw. But when Brendan ventures outside the walls of Kells for some berries with which to paint the Book's magical images, he discovers a new universe of possibilities – presided over by Aisling (Christen Mooney) – that offer untold opportunities, and untold dangers.