St. Patrick’s Day Special: Highlights of Irish Cinema
Given Ireland’s reputation for filmmaking excellence today, it’s strange to think of a time when it wasn’t even part of the conversation.
But back in the early and mid-20th century, this was exactly the case.
During this period, as the U.S., Russia, India, UK, Italy, and France redefined the medium, the Irish were a tad disinterested; their focus was directed more towards writing, painting, and music.
However, this changed in the latter half. From the 80s on, popular and acclaimed movies started to appear, as actors and directors, like Saoirse Ronan, Cillian Murphy and Jim Sheridan, became household names.
Fast forward to 2021, and filmmaking is now as integral to Irish culture as Guinness, Father Ted, and Thin Lizzy.
And, being Paddy’s Day, what better time to celebrate this?
Here’s a list of just some of the fantastic movies from Ireland, many of which, by the way, Inflight Dublin has put onboard planes as part of their inflight entertainment experience.
If you represent an airline, we can do the same for you; shoot us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
The Irish have a real flair for animation; just check out Song of the Sea, The Secret of Kells, and Give Up Yer Aul Sins.
Wolfwalkers, by renowned studio Cartoon Saloon, is the latest masterwork.
Recently nominated for Best Animated Feature Film at the Golden Globes, it has, just this week, made the Oscars category for the same.
And rightly so: from the mysterious, engaging story, to the stunning artwork, to the charming voice acting, to the colourful cast of characters, this is a serious achievement.
One of Ireland’s highest performers at the Box Office, both at home and abroad, Micheal Collins is arguably the country’s most well-known film.
Directed by Neil Jordan and starring Liam Neeson, it’s both a big-screen blockbuster, and an absorbing account of a key point in Irish history.
Some questionable accents aside, it’s still a great film. 😉
The Young Offenders is the definition of a breakout hit.
Made on a meagre budget of €50,000, it brought in almost fifteen times that at the Box Office, and has since become a hit TV series.
A spin on a real news story, it’s follows Conor and Jock, two teenagers from Cork, as they embark on a 160km road trip, on bikes, in the hopes of finding a bale of cocaine. Seriously!
A movie packed with warmth and wit, and great one-liners. For example: “There are two things you need for an adventure: a treasure map and someone dumb enough to go with you”.
Directed by the up-and-coming Lorcan Finnegan, and starring Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots, Vivarium is an intriguing mix of social commentary and psychological horror.
It’s about a young couple who buy a new house in a neighbourhood full of identical ones. Problem is, as they soon find out, they can’t leave. Things only get weirder from there.
A distinctive film with a pertinent message, as well as some impressive, and very creepy, set and sound design.
Who doesn’t love Sing Street?
About a boy who starts a band to impress a girl he likes, it’s touching, very funny, and loads of fun.
With tunes from The Cure, Duran Duran, The Jam, Joe Jackson and Motörhead, and some fantastic original music, the soundtrack is on point, too.
Daniel-Day Lewis’ Christy Brown is what we all think of when we think of My Left Foot.
Understandably, of course; it’s a masterclass, and bagged him his first of three Oscars.
But the movie wouldn’t be what it is without the exceptional cast. Brenda Fricker, as Bridget, deservedly won Best Supporting Actress, while Ray McNally’s portrayal of Christy’s dad is outstanding.
Twenty-two years since its release, My Left Foot is still one of Ireland’s most acclaimed and respected films.
Ok, as you might guess, Brooklyn isn’t set in Ireland for much of its runtime… But there’s enough here to consider it, at least partly, an Irish film.
Directed by John Crowley (Intermission, The Goldfinch), and based on the novel by Colm Toibín, it’s a moving, bittersweet, and ultimately uplifting, story.
Saoirse Ronan, in a role that cemented her reputation as a major acting talent, is wonderful as Eilis.
Ireland produces some excellent feature-length documentaries; The Camino Voyage is one of the best.
Released in 2018, it’s about a crew of five (one of whom music fans may recognise) attempting to sail the Camino, a 2,500 kilometre stretch of sea between Ireland and Spain.
It’s inspiring, original, and for reasons I won’t go into, more than a little heartbreaking.
Film critic Renee Schonfeld had this to say about The Commitments:
I couldn’t agree more.
About Jimmy Rabbitte, a music-obsessed lad who gets a soul group together, The Commitments is one of Ireland’s most loved and enduring films.
Oh – and if you haven’t seen the performance of “Mustang Sally” from the movie, you’ve been missing out:
What a charming film this is!
It’s about “Mad” Mary McArdle, who embarks on a series of disastrous dates as she tries to find a plus-one for her best friend’s wedding. Things start looking up, though, when Jess appears on the scene…
The recipient of Best Film at the 2016 IFTAs, A Date for Mad Mary is a hilarious, kind-hearted movie about friendship, love and growing up.
One of the best shorts I’ve seen, Martin is a mini-documentary about a man who lives under a bridge in Dublin.
He doesn’t consider himself homeless though, and is, according to director Donal Moloney, “probably the happiest man I have ever met”.
But this isn’t just a character study or a social critique; it’s also about the friendship that develops between director and subject.
Insightful and inspiring.
Handsome Devil is one of those that anyone can enjoy, and everyone should see.
Fionn O’ Shea and Nicholas Galitizine are Ned and Conor, two opposites who develop an unlikely bond while attending a rugby-obsessed school.
Also starring Andrew Scott as the boys’ inspiring teacher, the strong cast is matched by a screenplay that skillfully blends comedy and drama.
Directed by Ken Loach and starring Cillian Murphy, this historical drama, about two brothers fighting on opposite sides of the Irish Civil War, is gripping and hard-hitting.
Wonderful to look at, too; Barry Ackroyd’s cinematography is excellent.
It won the 2016 Palme D’Or and, with a return of over earning €2.7 million on its theatrical run, became the most popular independent Irish film ever released in Ireland.
Ok, so it’s heavy on the clichés (I half-expect a leprechaun with a pot o’ gold to jump out at some point), but park your cynicism, and you’ll find a lot to enjoy in The Quiet Man.
The setting, for instance. Filmed in beautiful County Mayo, and expertly shot by celebrated cinematographer Winton C. Hoch, it all looks exceptionally lovely.
It’s also fun to see two pioneers of the Western, John Forde and John Wayne, do their thing in a very different environment, and Maureen O’ Hara’s performance, as Mary Kate Danaher, is iconic.
Ok, so Citizen Kane it is not; but what list of Irish films would be complete without The Quiet Man?
Written by Conor Regan, Senior Content Acquisitions Executive.
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