Here are our top 10 Irish views streaming on Netflix:
1. The Quiet Man (1952)
Undoubtedly the most famous film set in Ireland ever, The Quiet Man is a triumph of classic Hollywood studio film-making. John Wayne plays Sean Thornton, an Irish-born American who returns to his ancestral home, the fictional village of Innisfree, to reclaim his family's land. While there he falls for the fiery red-headed beauty Mary Kate Danaher, portrayed by Maureen O'Hara in her most iconic role. Of course trouble ensues when there is a dispute over land (the most Irish of disputes), culminating in one of the most epic fist fights seen on screen.
The Quiet Man truly is a classic, in the same vein as Gone With the Wind and Doctor Zhivago. It's stunning shots of the wild Irish countryside are a wonder to behold and the crackling chemistry between its two leads puts most modern on-screen couples to shame. This is the perfect film to cozy up to with on the couch when you're looking for something that is pure escapist romance. For those of you who have seen it before, it's well worth a return trip to Innisfree; for anyone who has yet to experience it, you're in for a treat.
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. Run and Jump (2013)
A much more recent film than most on this list, Run and Jump is a wonderful little film that boasts stellar performances from Maxine Peake, Edward MacLiam and well known American actor Will Forte. The story follows Conor, an Irishman who suffers a stroke that leaves him mentally challenged and who must go through months of rehabilitation, changing completely the family dynamic between his wife and children. Forte plays an American doctor who receives a grant to study Conor's recovery in Ireland and events unfold in a touching and poignant manner. Shot on location in Wicklow and Kerry, Run and Jump is a film that is well worth a watch on Netflix.
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? Unfortunately Waking Ned Devine is no longer available on Netflix, but it can be found in full on Youtube.
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. Season two of the thriller is now available to stream on Netflix.
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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