Blog Post

The Best List of 100 Irish & Irish-American Movies


The Field

Let me start by being perfectly frank: I felt compelled to compile this list after reading “The 50 best Irish films ever made, in order.” Irish Times. May 2, 2020. I could not let a list that failed to mention either “The Field” or, “In the Name of the Father” go unchallenged. (Barry Lyndon did not make my list.)

The truth is, I have never read a “Best of” Irish Movie list that did not frustrate me. Every Irish movie list has felt incomplete, and biased. As a filmmaker and author myself I have very little patience for the critics who compile these lists. Critics are problematic for many reasons. Here are a few reasons I mistrust their opinions:

  1. They usually have an agenda, and that agenda is usually related directly to the political agenda of the publication they work for.

  2. Practically none of them have any hands on experience. They judge novels though they couldn’t write one themselves. They judge movies without ever having made one.

  3. Many of them are terrible writers. They write in dry, academic, unpenetrable language, which usually sounds like it was intended to impress their colleagues, rather than the average Joe, who really just wants to know; “Is it any good?”.

The internet has leveleled the playing field a great deal when it comes to an unbiased view of art. There is no better judge than the common man. People either like a thing, or they don’t. What survives as great art, literature, songs, or movies, are what people liked the most, and, continue to like. It’s that simple.

With all that in mind, I have made an attempt to compile a list that more fairly represents the broader views of the common man. A list that did not exclude movies that were not funded by the Irish Film establishment, or supported by the Irish Press. I also wanted a list that included Irish American movies that spoke directly to the immigrant experience, so that in looking through all the movies on this list you might better understand Irish culture as a whole, not an Ireland limited by the borders around 26, or 32 counties, but an Ireland whose broader border wraps around the shoulders of it’s immigrants too.

In an attempt to escape bias as much as possible I began the process of compiling this list by asking people across my social media platforms to just list their favorite Irish, or Irish American movies. About 150 people took part. I catalogued every single mention I recieved. I listed the movies in order of their importance to that response. Then I went to all the lists I could find online, and added the movies on those lists to that same compiliation. I refered to The Irish Times list, Irish Central, Rotten Tomatoes, Netflix, and Irish America Magazine. When I tallied the numbers I then listed them in order of votes.

There are two movies on this list that I must draw attention to, lest I too appear biased. Number 1, is my own movie: “Emerald City”. It had an unfair advantage in this process. Of course people who were acquainted with me on social media were more likely to choose that movie. So to be fair, I want to acknowlege that it’s place in the list is a reflection of that bias. But in keeping with the rules I laid out, I am acknowledging it in it’s place as it was chosen. For those of you who haven’t seen the movie you can always look it up on You Tube and give it a watch yourself and decide for yourself.

The second movie I will mention, is: “2x4” by Jimmy Smallhorne. Though no one mentioned the movie I added it to the list with an Asterix * as my way of combating the fact that Emerald City* sat so high in placement. If you feel like tossing my movie off the list, then just replace it with 2x4. 2x4 is not available in any format that I could find. But it deserves mention because it should not be forgotten. It is in important movie in our Irish history cannon. Declan Quinn won best cinematography at Sundance in 1998 for 2x4, and the movie features an incredible performance by writer/director Jimmy Smallhorne. It also focuses on working class Irish in New York City and for that fact alone deserves preservation. The fact that Jimmy went out and made such a powerful feature movie with practically no experience was a huge influence on my own decision to become a film-maker.

So let’s not judge the movies in order of importance. Instead, if you are looking for something to watch that will expand your view of Irish culture, entertain you, make you laugh, and cry, and wonder, rest assured, it is here. Dip and and out. Start at the bottom and work backwards. Watch them all.

This is not a best of list, but I can gaurantee you, it is the best list of Irish movies that currently exists.

  1. The Field

  2. In The Name of the Father

  3. My Left Foot

  4. The Commitments

  5. The Snapper

  6. Michael Collins

  7. The Crying Game

  8. The Wind That Shakes the Barley

  9. Once

  10. Emerald City*

  11. Brooklyn

  12. In America

  13. The Van

  14. The Secret of Roan Inish

  15. The Magdelene Sisters

  16. Philomena

  17. Angela’s Ashes

  18. Waking Ned Devine

  19. Intermission

  20. The General

  21. I Went Down

  22. The Guard

  23. Da

  24. The Quiet Man

  25. Gangs of New York

  26. Some Mother’s Son

  27. Carboard Gangsters

  28. In Bruges

  29. Cal

  30. The Butcher Boy

  31. Boondock Saints

  32. Darby O’Gill and the Little People

  33. Eat the Peach

  34. Breakfast on Pluto

  35. State of Grace

  36. Into the West

  37. The Dead

  38. Bloody Sunday

  39. Lamb

  40. War of the Buttons

  41. Song of the Sea

  42. Angels With Dirty Faces

  43. Garage

  44. Veronica Guerin

  45. On the Waterfront

  46. The Departed

  47. Mystic River

  48. Hunger

  49. Five Minutes of Heaven

  50. Hidden Agenda

  51. The Informer

  52. Clash of the Ash

  53. Adam and Paul

  54. Gone With the Wind

  55. Calvary

  56. The Run of The Country

  57. The Boxer

  58. The Devils Own

  59. Evelyn

  60. Fanatic Heart

  61. Black 47

  62. The Long Good Friday

  63. The Colleen Bawn

  64. The Farthest

  65. Flight of the Doves

  66. The Fighter

  67. The Brothers McMullen

  68. Doubt

  69. Jimmy's Hall

  70. Miller’s Crossing

  71. Blackmass

  72. Goodwill Hunting

  73. The Public Enemy

  74. Ryan’s Daughter

  75. Ondine

  76. The Playboys

  77. Omagh

  78. Dancing at Lughnasa

  79. Circle of Friends

  80. Shake Hands With the Devil

  81. The Secret of Kells

  82. This is my Father

  83. Quackser Fortune Has a Cousin in The Bronx

  84. Man about Dog

  85. An Everlasting Piece

  86. Disco Pigs

  87. The Young Offenders

  88. The Siege at Jadotville

  89. Song Of Granite

  90. If I Should Fall From Grace

  91. Secret Scripture

  92. The Runway

  93. Hear My Song

  94. A Prayer for the Dying

  95. Sing Street

  96. Borstal Boy

  97. The Journey

  98. A Bad Day For The Cut

  99. Pilgrim Hill

  100. The Boys From County Clare

*(Special Mention: 2x4 by Jimmy Smallhorne)


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