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The Best Irish Films of 2014

Our Best of 2014 coverage hits the midweek point as Páraic runs through the year in Irish cinema. Up tomorrow, friends and correspondents lists with some special features from Mick McGovern, David Turpin and Eithne Shortall. Our 2014 coverage wraps up with our Best Films and a bumper podcast arriving on Friday.

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“I’m not a fan of Irish movies, I don’t find them to be that technically accomplished and I don’t find them that intelligent. So I’m trying to get away from the description of the movie as an Irish film in a way.”

Now those are by no means my comments but any film fan will recognise them as the words of one John Michael McDonagh. Let’s pause for a moment and collectively take the knife from our backs. People will see some truth in what he talks about as many younger viewers will not go to any Irish films due to preconceived notions – and there is a tendency for the extra review star to befall an Irish film. It is a bit rich however when you set a film in Ireland, with an Irish cast, Irish crew, an inherently Irish story and take a boatload of money from Irish backers (namely the film board) and proclaim the film isn’t Irish. Twat.

There are no extra stars for the wearing of the green here at, if anything we hold them up to a higher bench mark as these films will ultimately be our cinematic calling card around the world. There is always a debate about what makes a film Irish – funding, cast, director, setting – but I like to think you just know, and sure being born in a stable does not make one a horse. Suck it Wellington.

1) Frank

Lenny Abrahamson continues to cement his title of greatest living Irish director with this poignant and heartbreaking film about depression and mental illness.

Sold as a road movie of sorts but quite the contrary Frank is certainly a tough sell; get one of the best looking and biggest stars of the screen (Michael Fassbender) and put a giant paper mache head on him. But he takes the mask head off right? Yes, for about 3 minutes.

Superb acting, a stellar cast, exquisite directing and a fantastic soundtrack Frank is a must.


2) One Million Dubliners

The less you know about this documentary, the more it gives to you.

It tells the story of Glasnevin cemetery, which is home to nearly 1.5 million inhabitants, the film follows those who work in the museum, flower shop employees, tour guides, grave-diggers and visitors to this most hallowed ground.


3) Rough Rider

Nigel says: OK, so this one didn’t manage to make it onto the big screen yet, but it had a national TV audience of hundreds of thousands having premiered in its feature-length form on RTÉ One in the summer.

Adrian McCarthy’s documentary on sports journalist Paul Kimmage’s battle with himself, his peers, Lance Armstrong and the world of cycling is captivating, funny and thought-provoking. What more could you want from a documentary?

4) Begin Again

John Carney is on familiar ground with this music centred romantic story. A believable portrayal of a washed up music exec from the always wonderful Mark Ruffalo and a solid outing by the always hated Keira Knightley (not me Keira I think you’re swell!). If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. #singstreet


5) Calvary

Brendan Gleeson’s performance is the saving grace of this film.


6) Mrs Brown Boys D’Movie

In your endo etc.


7) Standby

The “other” Gleeson can act too! Yes Brian Gleeson stars as a fed up, late twenty something who happens to bump into an old flame Jessica Paré and the two set off on a whirlwind trip around Dublin town in search of what they once thought lost. Giggles and goosebumps galore, Standby is a sweet charming love letter to Dublin as much as anything.


8) Run and Jump

Nigel said… ★★★

The real stand-off performers here are Peake and Forte. They’re a great double-act and they’re the reason that the film works.


9) The Last Days on Mars

Ruairi Robinson directs a perfectly intelligent B-movie style horror caper on Mars. Self aware and knowledgeable of the genre it must also be applauded for it’s uniqueness and originality.


10) Gold

More like bronze. However David Wilmot’s performance is what makes Gold defendable as the bells and whistles around it starring Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones) do not ring true.

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Páraic wanted to be a gangster as far back as he can remember. Brought up on a diet of films he was too young to be watching by his brothers, all things 80s teens thanks to his sisters and the classics by his folks he's turned into a well-rounded (maybe a little too round) film lover. Only recently discovering North by Northwest, he longs for a train journey with a beautiful blond.

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