Top 10 Best Irish Films of All Time
Ireland may not compare to Hollywood in terms of its filmic output, but there are still plenty of great Irish films out there. We have narrowed our list down to ten of the best movies featuring Irish actors, themes and locations. As winter draws in and the days get shorter, make sure to check out at least one of these marvellous movies.
This is a ‘buddy cop movie’ – Irish style. This time the ill-matched pair of protagonists are the local guard (Brendan Gleeson) who has what could be described as a ‘loose’ moral code, and the by-the-book FBI agent (Don Cheadle). What could have ended up as a chuckle-free mess becomes a hilarious action adventure, greatly helped by the all-in performance delivered with relish by Gleeson.
Roddy Doyle’s book was brought to the big screen to riotous effect in 1991. The Commitments tells the story of a rag-tag bunch of musicians who come together to escape the dreariness of life in Dublin and bring soul music to the masses.
Friends Jackie and Michael - played with gusto by veteran Irish actors Ian Bannen and David Kelly – discover that their neighbour Ned Devine has won the Irish Lotto, and promptly died of a heart attack! The rest of this rousing comdey film follows our main characters as they try to outwit the lottery officials and keep the money for themselves.
Song of the Sea
This animated fantasy adventure went on to be nominated for the Oscar for Best Animated Feature at the 2015 awards. The hand-drawn picture follows the adventures of siblings Ben and Saoirse as they go on a thrilling adventure to free fairy creatures from a Celtic goddess.
Another movie that was nominated for Oscar glory, Brooklyn tells the story of a young Irish woman (Saoirse Ronan) who emigrates to New York in the 1950’s in search of work. She must decide between life in Ireland with a suitable young bachelor or staying in Brooklyn with the Italian-American man she met in the States.
The Crying Game
Directed by Neil Jordan, this movie is set against the backdrop of the Troubles in Northern Ireland and features Stephen Rea in the main role. We’re not going to give out any spoilers here, but suffice to say that this 1990’s movie has one of the most famous twist endings of its time.
In the Name of the Father
Another film with connections to the violence in Northern Ireland, this drama from Jim Sheridan focuses on the wrongly convicted Guildford Four. The ensuing bid for freedom revolves around Daniel Day Lewis as Gerry Conlon and leads to a gripping courtroom battle where a crusading lawyer fights for his freedom.
The Wind that Shakes the Barley
Ken Loach’s biggest box office success to date is set during the Irish War of Independence in the 1920’s. Cillian Murphy takes the lead role in this gripping war-time drama which set the record for the highest-grossing independent Irish movie, until ‘The Guard’ took the number one spot.
This 2008 comedy drama from Martin McDonagh features the afore-mentioned Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell in the main roles as hitmen on the run in the Belgian city of Bruges. The comedy is pitch-black as the two bumble through a series of misadventures before facing off against their furious boss.
The Quiet Man
Let’s finish our list with a classic, even if it bears about as much resemblance to modern Ireland as it does to the moon. Irish-American Sean Thornton (John Wayne) goes back to Ireland to reclaim his family homestead, meeting considerable opposition from the local squire (Victor McLaglen). This film is famous for some pretty corny stage ‘Oirishness’ as well as one of the more memorable fist-fights to be committed to celluloid: a guilty pleasure!