Peter Debruge, one of Variety’s top film critics, called John Michael McDonagh’s follow-up to “The Guard” the best film of 2014. Starring Brendan Gleeson as a Catholic priest who faces a serious threat in a small Irish town, “Calvary” is a dark and humorous tale of family, loss and the struggle between religion and community.
“In the Name of the Father” (1993)
The critically acclaimed biopic earned Irish director Jim Sheridan and Daniel Day-Lewis and Emma Thompson Oscar noms. Based on the true story of Gerry Conlon, the drama follows the Guildford Four’s alleged leader’s 15-year struggle for justice after being wrongfully convicted for the Irish Republican Army’s 1974 pub bombings that left five dead and over 70 wounded.
Musicals are usually adapted from the stage to the bigscreen, but this little Irish movie that could ultimately became a Tony-winning Broadway hit. Shot on a miniscule $160,000 budget, the Dublin-set naturalistic drama from writer-director John Carney won the hearts of U.S. audiences with its tragic love story and beautifully somber music. Stars Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, who comprise the Irish folk duo The Swell, won the best original song Oscar in 2008 for their haunting ballad “Falling Slowly.”
“Angela’s Ashes” (1999)
The 1999 drama based on Frank McCourt’s memoir of the same name chronicles the author’s childhood following his family’s forced emigration from America back to Ireland. It tells the touching tale of McCourt’s struggle to earn enough money to return to “the land of opportunity.”
“The Crying Game” (1992)
Director-writer Neil Jordan made a name for himself as an envelope-pushing filmmaker with this psychological thriller. The 1992 film stirred up controversy in its depiction of race, gender and sexuality. Set against the backdrop of the four-decade-long ethno-nationalist conflict in Northern Ireland, the movie focuses on an Irish Republican Army man who befriends one of his captors and falls for his girlfriend.
“Far and Away” (1992)
Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman play Irish immigrants trying to cash in on the American dream. The duo eventually participate in the Land Run of 1893, when over 100,000 people flooded to present-day Oklahoma to claim land during the opening of the Cherokee Outlet. One of Ron Howard’s first pics, the movie featured Cruise and Kidman as the quintessential on-and-off-screen “it” couple.
“The Quiet Man” (1952)
The 1952 American classic follows a retired American boxer, played by John Wayne, who moves to Ireland in the 1920s to reclaim his family’s farm. He embraces the land after falling in love with an Irishwoman (Maureen O’Hara). The romantic drama earned John Ford a best director Oscar.
Steve McQueen’s directorial debut and first collaboration with Michael Fassbender won the Caméra d’Or at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival. The gritty drama recreates the tense atmosphere at Northern Ireland’s Maze prison leading up to the 1981 hunger strike. Fassbender plays an Irish Republican Army volunteer who goes to physical extremes to regain political status.
“In America” (2002)
Directed by Jim Sheridan with a semi-autobiographical screenplay from Sheridan and his daughters, the 2002 pic documents an Irish immigrant family’s struggle to start fresh in a rough New York City neighborhood. The film scored an original screenplay Oscar nom, among others.
“The Commitments” (1991)
The 1991 classic Irish dramedy adapted from Roddy Doyle’s novel of the same name follows working class Dubliners who form an American-style soul band. Despite its relatively unknown cast, Alan Parker’s film was met with critical acclaim and box office success. It also put actor Colm Meaney on the map.
“The Field” (1990)
Another Jim Sheridan visual masterpiece, “The Field” explores a farmer’s love for his land. Set in Ireland’s rural west, it also reflects the country’s changing social and political landscape.