Friday, March 16, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Movie Picks

By Mike Mazzanti, BMFI Intern

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.

Liam Neeson
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.

Cillian Murphy
Pick: Sunshine
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.

Honorable Mention:
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.

Maureen O’Hara
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

Colin Farrell
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.

Peter O’Toole
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.

Brendan Gleeson
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.


  1. You're only half-right about "Sunshine": it's visually striking. But there's not a single shred of intelligence to be found within a thousand miles of the script. Those seeking something clever with Mr. Murphy would be better served by opting for dark indie comedy "Intermission" or "Breakfast on Pluto."

    1. Mr. Murphy is quite an actor. Although I can't speak to Intermission, his performance in Breakfast on Pluto is fascinating and daring. Thanks for the additions! - Devin Wachs, BMFI

  2. Joseph Dennis KellyMarch 19, 2012 at 12:43 AM

    I disagree with the "Gangs of New York." I find it overstylized and empty. I think better choices are "The Boxer" and "Michael Collins." And what about "The Crying Game" and "The Field" and "Waking Ned Devine" and "Angela's Ashes" and "My Left Foot" and "The Commitments" and "Bloom" and "The Dead" and "Philadelphia, Here I Come" and "Long Day's Journey into Night" and "Bloody Sunday" and "In the Name of the Father" and Philadelphian Joseph Strick's film of James Joyce's "Ulysses"? And nearly all of Samuel Beckett's stage plays were filmed for television viewing.

    1. Thanks, you list some great Irish films and some of them could well set the stage for next year's St. Paddy's Day post! However, Mike intended "Gangs of New York" as a film in which Liam Neeson played an Irish character. - Devin Wachs, BMFI

  3. I LOVE Gangs of New York. Daniel Day-Lewis is amazing in this plus I love the historical detail. The only problem is that there are too many great films to choose from!