If you want to find another way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, here are 10 of the best films with connections to Ireland, the Irish, and Irish-Americans. Two of these films feature an Irish Oscar winner. One film even won an Oscar for best picture, while another was later adapted into a Tony Award-winning Broadway musical. Within each one you’ll get a deeper insight into the Emerald Isle, its culture, and the people. Grab your green beer and Irish soda bread for an entertaining passage of beautiful green countryside’s, scintillating music, and extraordinary stories.
Here’s the first musical on the list. “Once” received an Academy Award for best original song, the ever popular “Falling Slowly.” The story is about a Dubliner street musician and a florist/pianist who come together through the busker’s music. In 2011 this indie film was later adapted into a successful Broadway musical, culminating into a Tony Award for best musical in 2012.
Ryan’s Daughter (1970)
For those who want breathtaking Irish scenery and a passionate love story this is your film. “Ryan’s Daughter” is set during WWI when an Irish girl falls for a British soldier. The filming took place on Ireland’s Dingle Peninsula located on the Western coast
Angela’s Ashes (1999)
It’s an autobiographical film based on Frank McCourt’s childhood where he was born in Brooklyn, New York. His family then returns to Ireland where they originally came from. There are some funny moments in “Angela’s Ashes,” mixed in with this family’s difficult struggles in Ireland, much like in America. Frank dreams of returning to his birthplace once again. McCourt’s memoir also won a Pulitzer Prize.
Michael Collins (1996)
Liam Neeson stars in this historical film of the Irish revolutionary Michael Collins. He helped establish Ireland as a free state in the 1920s. “Michael Collins” also stars Julia Roberts.
The Commitments (1991)
Now coming to the second musical on the list, “The Commitments” take place in the working class section of Dublin. A band of young kids, who have a love of 1960s R&B soul classics, get an opportunity to perform in clubs. They also have a shot of stardom mixed in. The performances from this cast are incredible.
Waking Ned Devine (1998)
What if someone you knew won the lottery, and they were dead. That’s what this comedy is all about. Old Ned Devine dies with his winning ticket of seven million Irish pounds (roughly 13 million in today’s U.S. dollars). Now the question is, how do they split up the winnings 51 ways (based on the town’s population)? “Waking Ned Devine” is a wonderful comedy to watch for St. Patrick’s Day.
My Left Foot (1989)
Irish actor Daniel Day-Lewis won his first Academy Award in the role of Christy Brown. It’s the true story of Brown, a disabled writer with cerebral palsy, who can only move his left foot. Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance is absolutely compelling to watch in “My Left Foot.” Be sure to put this title on your movie list.
The Departed (2006)
The first of two films about Irish Americans, primarily the Irish Mafia, set in South Boston. “The Departed” won an Oscar for best picture, and directed by the legendary Martin Scorsese. It’s based on the highly successful Hong Kong film “Internal Affairs.” Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon are on different sides of the law with the Irish mob boss played by Jack Nicholson. You’ll get caught up in this cat and mouse game.
The Secret of Roan Inish (1994)
Finally a film the whole family can enjoy, even children. A quintessential Irish folktale, adapted from the book “The Secret of the Ron More Skerry,” will both charm and entertain. Fiona is the little girl who takes you on her journey filled with Ireland’s famous myths. “The Secret of Roan Inish” is cinematic storytelling at its best.
Gangs of New York (2002)
Daniel Day-Lewis and Leonardo DiCaprio star in another brilliant Martin Scorsese directed film. This time “Gangs of New York” is about generational Irish-American natives and Irish immigrants just off the boat in 19th century New York City. The two converge with Day-Lewis resenting those immigrants encroaching on his turf, since he was born in America. DiCaprio gets involved with a gang of fellow immigrants to avenge the death of his father.