6. Waking Ned Devine (1998)
This heart-warming madcap comedy is set in the Irish town of Tulaigh Mhór (though it was actually filmed on location in the Isle of Man) and features a number of Irish screen stars, including Fionnula Flanagan, Ian Bannen, David Kelly, Paul Vaughan, Susan Lynch and James Nesbitt. Word comes to Tulaigh Mhór that someone in the town has won the National Lottery. Eventually, they narrow it down to the reclusive Ned Devine, only to discover that he died from the shock of realizing his good fortune. After deciding that Ned would want them them to take the money, Jackie O’Shea (Bannen) and Michael O’Sullivan (Kelly) develop a scheme in which Michael will pretend to be Ned and claim the jackpot. The townspeople agree to cooperate for a share of the winnings, but can they convince the slightly skeptical lotto inspector?
7. In Bruges (2008)
If you’re a fan of humor so dark it toes the line between hilarious and truly uncomfortable, this first feature-length film by playwright Martin McDonagh is for you. "In Bruges" stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson as hit men, ordered by their boss (Ralph Feinnes) to take a “holiday” in Bruges after Farrell’s character Ray botches a job. Expect violent chases through the incongruously quaint Flemish city, doomed romance, an intimidating dwarf played by Jordan Prentice, rotund American tourists, bell towers, vengeance, and figures from Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights come deliriously to life.
8. The Crying Game (1992)
A psycho-sexual thriller set against the backdrop of The Troubles, "The Crying Game" elicited controversy when it was released in the UK in 1992 - particularly for its sympathetic portrayal of an IRA operative (played by Stephen Rea). However, it went on to be huge hit in the U.S., receiving six Oscar nominations and winning Best Original Screenplay for Neil Jordan, who was also the film’s director. Today, some call it underrated, while others count the final plot twist among the most surprising endings in film history. Either way, "The Crying Game" has earned its spot as a cult classic.
9. The Dead (1987)
If you’ve grown weary of the more treacly holiday entertainment fare, take 83 minutes to watch "The Dead." The last and arguably most sensitive work of legendary director John Huston, which he directed from a wheelchair at 80 years of age, "The Dead" quietly triumphs at what many thought to be the impossible task of translating James Joyce’s landmark short story into film. It unfolds over the course of Epiphany night (January 6) in Dublin in 1904 - first roving from character to character at the Morkan sisters’ annual dinner and dance, and then settling on its protagonists Gabriel Conroy and his wife, Gretta. Anjelica Huston (it would be her last time working with her father), Donal McCann and the all-Irish cast, many of whom were actors from the Abbey Theatre, are marvelous.
10. The Fall (2013)
This BBC miniseries thriller has been a game-changer in terms of how Northern Ireland’s capital is portrayed in popular culture. Corruption, local politics and sectarian violence still lurk in the background, but the series’ main focus is a hunt for a serial killer that could take place in almost any city in the world. Gillian Anderson (of X-Files fame) stars as Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson, who is brought over from London to investigate a murderer (played by a terrifying and at times uncomfortably sympathetic Jamie Dornan) who is targeting young professional women around Belfast.The series is smart, challenging and tricky, with just the right melding of sub-plots and red herrings to keep viewers constantly guessing. "The Fall" is also one of your last chances to see Belfast-born-and-raised Dornan in action before he becomes famous for playing the rich, dominant and frequently naked Christian Grey in the "50 Shades of Grey" film.
Also check out: "The Boy in Striped Pajamas" (2008) based on the award-winning novel by Irish author John Boyne; "Stella Days" (2011), starring Martin Sheen as an Irish priest who brings a cinema to his parish; "The General" (1998) - Brendan Gleeson’s major breakout role as notorious crime boss Martin Cahill; and "In the Name of the Father" (1993) and "The Boxer" (1997), Jim Sheridan’s masterful further collaborations with Daniel Day-Lewis.
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