Here are our top 10 Irish views streaming on Netflix:
1. Love/Hate (2010 - Present)
The winner of nine Irish Film & Television awards in its first season and 10 during its second, this RTÉ crime drama is without a doubt the biggest thing to happen to Irish television in recent years. With three seasons now streaming on Netflix, it’s about time to see what all the hype - and the controversy - is about.
Love/Hate takes viewers deep into the Dublin criminal underworld. The series’ start sees ex-gangster Darren Treacy (played by Robert Sheehan) return to the way of life he fled in the wake of his brother’s murder, while John Boy (Aidan Gillen) and Nidge Delaney (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor) compete for control of Dublin’s drug trade. "Love/Hate" has received some criticism for its more violent plot twists, but has also garnered widespread praise for its translation of themes from U.S. series such as "The Wire" and "The Sopranos" into a distinctly Irish mode of operating.
2. The Secret of Kells (2009)
This stunning Oscar-nominated feature will enchant viewers young and old. The work of Kilkenny-based animation studio Cartoon Saloon, "The Secret of Kells" draws upon The Book of Kells, Ireland’s venerable and most famous illuminated manuscript, for both its unique animation style and its plot. Set in the eighth century in the Abbey of Kells, it centers on a boy named Brendan whose uncle, the Abbot Cellach (voiced by Brendan Gleeson) watches over Kells with a well-intentioned but stern eye, intent upon building a wall high enough to keep out the Viking invaders. Having narrowly escaped a Viking attack on Iona, Brother Aidan (Mick Lally) and his cat Pangur Bán arrive in Kells, seeking a safe place to complete the Book of Iona illuminated manuscript. Against Abbot Cellach’s wishes, Brother Aidan soon enlists Brendan’s help, which results in him venturing into the forest outside of Kells’ walls, where he meets a spirit named Aisling. Danger of the snake-like pagan deity and the Viking variety ensues as Brendan must choose between obeying his uncle and protecting the book.The animation is simply breath-taking - unlike anything else before this film, or since.
3. The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006)
Be advised that "The Wind That Shakes The Barley" should only be watched on a day when ample time can be set aside for some tears and deep contemplation of Irish history. Cillian Murphy and Padraic Delaney star as brothers from Co. Cork who fight alongside each other in their local IRA brigade during the War of Independence (1919-22) and then against each other in the Irish Civil War (1922-23). It is a wrenching and deeply personal examination of war and allegiance. Directed by British filmmaker Ken Loach and featuring an almost entirely Irish cast, "The Wind that Shakes the Barley" set the record for the highest-grossing independent film released in Ireland and won the Palme d’Or at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival.
4. My Left Foot (1989)
Esteemed Irish filmmaker Jim Sheridan’s directorial debut, "My Left Foot" is the movie that made Daniel Day-Lewis and earned him his first Oscar. Here he takes on the role of real-life figure Christy Brown, an Irishman severely disabled by cerebral palsy, who came to write and paint using the only limb he could move - his left foot. The movie may not be quite as immediately gripping as "The Boxer" or politically charged as "In The Name of the Father" (both also directed by Jim Sheridan and both currently streaming on Netflix), but Day-Lewis gives an astounding performance, and contemporary film history has it that "My Left Foot" was the first movie for which he tried the total immersion form of method acting he’s now famous for. Day-Lewis insisted upon staying in character between takes, with the crew aiding him, and broke two ribs from spending so much time hunched over. Brenda Fricker, Cyril Cusack and Fiona Shaw top off the extraordinary cast.
5. The Field (1990)
For his second turn in the director’s chair, Jim Sheridan looked to John B. Keane’s 1965 play "The Field," seminal for its exploration of the importance of land to the Irish. Limerick-born Richard Harris stars at Bull McCabe, a farmer who has given everything to better the three acres, one rood and 32 perches plot of land his family has rented for generations. When its owner, the Widow Quinn, decides to put the field up for public auction, Bull’s claim to the land and his authority within the village are challenged by a wealthy American (played by Tom Berenger) whose ancestors emigrated from the area and who plans to build a hydroelectric dam. Brenda Fricker plays Bull’s wife, whom he hasn’t spoken to in 18 years; Sean Bean (most famous now for Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones) his overlooked son; and John Hurt his eccentric ally. The role revitalized Harris’s later career, earning him Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations.
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