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Best of 2016: Irish Films


Our Best of 2016 coverage kicks off with a run-through the year in Irish cinema from Páraic…

Coming up… Tuesday – The Year in Documentaries, Wednesday – Best Films of 2016, Thursday – Friends of Spooool, and Friday – Worst Films of 2016.



10) Mammal

At the heart of Rebecca Daly’s feature are two stand-out performances with Rachel Griffiths as Margaret and Barry Keoghan as Joe. Margaret is a lonely, middle-aged woman who befriends a disadvantaged teenager as a strange way of dealing with the loss of her own son who she abandoned as a child. It’s an unlikely pairing and one that not every viewer will engage with, but there’s no arguing with the fact that Daly has a fantastic directorial eye and gets some very special performances out of her cast. (notes by Nigel)



the young offenders

9) The Young Offenders

Putting Cork on the film map was The Young Offenders, a sweet caper film. Two dimwit mates attempt to find and sell a big bag of coke that has washed up on the shores of Cork. Tightly scripted with great chemistry between the two leads, this makes for a really fun 90 minutes. (Full review)




8) Strange Occurrences In A Small Irish Village

One can lead a very sheltered life in the confines of one’s twitter profile of like minded people. What documentaries like Strange Occurrences show us are that there are many different voices to be heard and they don’t all agree with you. Just like Love/Hate is not Dublin, Strange Occurrences is not rural religious Ireland. Yet it is perhaps a timely documentary which in some way shows what may lie in wait for Repeal the 8th campaigners. (Full review)




7) Viva

Paddy Breathnach travelled to Cuba for his latest tale which dealt with drag queens in a dingy club in Havana. Penned by Mark O’Halloran it’s a touching father-son film about a son standing up for his lifestyle and a father trying to atone for his past mistakes.



bobby sands 66 days

6) Bobby Sands: 66 Days

A documentary that is the perfect compliment to the gut-wrenching Steve McQueen film Hunger. Brendan J Byrne’s documentary provides the context and impact of Sands’ hunger strikes. What’s most refreshing is the fact it refuses to deify him, and instead is a beautiful, but balanced, portrait of what taking your protest toward an ultimate sacrifice can do for a movement. (notes by Nigel)



i am belfast

5) I am Belfast

Mark Cousins poetic look at his beloved Belfast is a unique take on that most complex of issues; Northern Ireland. Coming in a pre Brexit world it will serve as a postcard as a place that we soon may not recognise. (Full Review)




4) The Survivalist

Stephen Fingleton’s first feature is a bleak post apocalyptic fable about trust. Post apocalypse has become a dirty word along with dystopian future yet what makes Stephen’s film so refreshing is no mention is made of the how and why. We simply focus on a somewhat nuclear family expertly played by Martin McCann, Mia Goth and Olwen Fouere.



lenny abrahamson brie larson jacob tremblay

3) Room

Feeling almost like a film from last year, Lenny Abrahamson continues to cement his place as Ireland’s greatest director. (Full review)



a date for mad mary drogheda film fleadh galway

2) A Date for Mad Mary

Seána Kerslake’s outstanding performance set this Drogheda tale apart from the crowd. An honest heartfelt performance about coming to terms with oneself wherever it may take you. (Full review)



sing street

1) Sing Street

John Carney’s “The Commitments for Children” is a lovable tale with super songs to match. A potential for best song at the Oscars. (Full review)


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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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