Instead of making jokes about leprechauns and large consumptions of alcohol for Saint Patrick’s Day, I will focus my attention on films starring famous Irish actors and actresses. With the 17th just around the corner, you can celebrate your Irish heritage with a few of these films, or just admire the awesome accents from afar.
Pick: Schindler’s List
In Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List, Liam Neeson was nominated for an Oscar for his starring role as Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who saved over a thousand Jews during the height of the Second World War. Based on a true story, this stirring and heartbreaking masterpiece was nominated for twelve Academy Awards and won seven including Best Picture and Best Director.
Most Irish Role: Gangs of New York
In Martin Scorsese’s ten-time Oscar-nominated Gangs of New York, Neeson plays Irish immigrant leader ‘Priest’ Vallon.
With the sun beginning to dim, a small team of astronauts are sent out to reignite the dying star and mankind’s future. Visually striking and intelligent, Danny Boyle’s Sunshine has all the makings of a sci-fi classic. Thanks in large part to strong performances from Cillian Murphy, Chris Evans, Cliff Curtis, and Mark Strong, this cerebral drama is both grim and touching.
28 Days Later
In another of Boyle’s sci-fi flicks, 28 Days Later, Cillian Murphy stars as Jim, a bicycle courier who wakes to find London seemingly deserted; as Jim travels the streets, he soon learns the truth behind the abandoned city and the creatures lurking in the shadows.
Pick/Most Irish: The Quiet Man
In this romantic comedy, Irish-born American boxer Sean Thornton (John Wayne) travels to his homeland to reclaim his family’s farm. He soon falls in love with Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O’Hara), the fiery sister of the bullying landowner. Nominated for seven Academy Awards, The Quiet Man won two, including Best Director for John Ford.
|One tough broad: Maureen O'Hara in John Ford's The Quiet Man|
Pick: In Bruges
In Bruges follows Ray (Colin Farrell), a rookie hit-man with a guilty conscious who is sent to lay low in Bruges after a hit goes awry. Accompanied by veteran assassin Ken (Brendan Gleeson), they await orders from their hot-tempered and extremely principled boss, Harry (Ralph Fiennes). Instantly bored with the small town, Ray soon gets into a tangle of trouble and romance with the locals, tourists, and a film crew in this witty pitch-black comedy.
Honorable Mention: Tigerland
Farrell stars as Roland Bozz, a young man trying to fight the military system, only to find it fighting back in Joel Schumacher’s gritty war drama.
Pick: Lawrence of Arabia
In a film that has been called the epic of all epics, Peter O’Toole stars as T.E. Lawrence, a complex and controversial military figure. Sweeping and spellbinding, director David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia was nominated for ten Academy Awards and won seven, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Cinematography.
|Omar Sharif and Peter O'Toole star in Lawrence of Arabia|
Honorable Mention: Becket
In Becket, winner of the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, Peter O’Toole stars as King Henry II alongside Richard Burton.
Pick/Most Irish: The Guard
Brendan Gleeson stars as Sergeant Gerry Boyle, an unorthodox Irish cop who is forced to work with a fish-out-of-water FBI agent (Don Cheadle). Brimming with dry wit and subversive humor, The Guard is an impressive directorial debut from John Michael McDonagh that is both raw and hilarious.
So, if you’d like to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day with a flick or two, give a toast (okay, just one joke) to one of these Irish stars.