by Doug Schultz
The Boondock Saints. But today is St. Patrick's Day, and if you're tempted to watch "something Irish," please skip Troy Duffy's magnum opus (more like "magdumb doofus," amIright?). Instead, watch one of these eight other Irish-themed films.
1. Once (2006)
A truly magical little movie from writer/director John Carney, filmed entirely in (and around) Dublin for only $150,000[!]. Light years better than Begin Again (2013) (though you can't blame a movie for trying), Once captures lightning in a bottle -- the performances genuine, the story simple (yet captivating) and the music ... well, the music is simply transcendent. In fact, the song "Falling Slowly," heart-achingly sung by "Guy" (Glen Hansard) and "Girl" (Markéta Irglová), won the 2007 Academy Award for Best Original Song, even after its eligibility was questioned (versions of the song had been released on The Frames' The Cost and The Swell Season's self-titled first album [both bands are fronted by Hansard], a big Academy no-no). This is one of my favorite films of the first decade of the 21st century.
2. The Brothers McMullen (1995)
Woody Allen, only substituting his Irish Catholic roots for Allen's Jewish heritage. The movie is rough -- this is to be expected from any "first" directing effort -- but it's also charming and (DARE I SAY?) inspiring. I really miss the days of 16mm movies made for only $28,000 (basically, the cost of stock and processing [see also: Clerks]) that launched moviemaking careers. Also B.M.C. (as Patrick and I affectionately call it) introduced the world to Maxine Bahns, a very pretty outer space alien (with, unfortunately, limited acting range). So it's got that going for it.
3. Patriot Games (1992)
4. The Guard (2011)
Why isn't this just a list about how great Brendan Gleeson is? Because he is. Great. And this little black comedy, from writer/director John Michael McDonagh, is a delight. It's also the most successful Irish film of all time in terms of Irish box-office receipts, overtaking The Wind that Shakes the Barley (2006), which is perhaps the most Irish-sounding title on the planet. Fair warning: if you're anything like me (YOU ARE EXACTLY LIKE ME), you probably have to be in the right frame of mind before you watch it (I must've had three or four "false starts" [bailing each time] before I finally committed to it). But I'm glad I did, because it's a warm, profane, violent, funny movie. Also, Don Cheadle.
5. The Departed (2006)
This one's a no-brainer. Director Martin Scorsese tackles Irish-American organized crime in South Boston, and, for his efforts (and partly as a mea culpa for previously being snubbed for Raging Bull  and Goodfellas ), he received his long overdue Best Director statuette at the 79th Academy Awards. The movie won three other Oscars that night, too, including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Film Editing. With an all-star cast consisting of Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Vera Farmiga and Alec Baldwin, The Departed is a must-see film, and, in my opinion, far better than Scorsese's other Irish crime movie, Gangs of New York (2002).
6. The Quiet Man (1952)
John Ford. John Wayne. Maureen O'Hara. C'mon guys, what more reason do you need? American boxer Sean Thornton (Wayne) goes to Ireland to claim his family's farm. There, he falls in love with a fiery redhead named Mary Kate Danaher (O'Hara), and has one of the best fistfights (climactic and comic) to ever grace the silver screen with her brother, Squire "Red" Will Danaher (Victor McLaglen). It's crazy to think that this classic almost never got made. When Ford pitched the idea to Hollywood producers, he was told it was a "silly Irish story that won't make a penny." Thankfully, The Quiet Man went on to become a commercial and critical success.
7. In Bruges (2008)
8. The MatchMaker (1997)