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8 brilliant Irish picks worth watching ahead of the Oscars this weekend


by Jennifer McShane
22nd Apr 2021

Only one of these is up for an Academy Award this Sunday (with another previous winner), but all of this selection of vibrant cultural offerings are worth a watch too.

Wolfwalkers

Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart’s now Oscar-nominated Wolfwalkers is the Cartoon Saloon-produced animated adventure that has received almost unanimous critical acclaim since its World Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last September. with critics calling it “the best animated film of the year.” And you know what? They weren’t wrong.

Available on Apple TV+/ Volta 

A Girl From Mogadishu

Mary McGuckian’s profoundly powerful A Girl From Mogadishu based on the true story of global gender-based violence activist, Ifrah Ahmed is an absolute must-see. Starring Aja Naomi King as Ifrah Ahmed, Barkhad Abdi and Orla Brady, it follows the activist’s journey from war-torn Somalia to the United States where she is trafficked to Dublin, and her extraordinary emergence as a formidable campaigner against Female Genital Mutilation around the world.

Available here

The Fall

The brilliant psychological thriller examines the lives of two hunters – one is a serial killer (Jamie Dornan) who preys on victims in and around Belfast, Northern Ireland, and the other is a female detective (Gillian Anderson)  drafted from the London Metropolitan Police to catch him. The local authorities have no suspects and no experience with cases involving sexually motivated serial killers; DSI Stella Gibson has.

She heads a task force dedicated to solving the crime spree, with a simple motto: Anyone not part of the solution is part of the problem. The killer? He’s Paul Spector, a father and a husband leading a double life, as viewers learn from the outset.

Available on Netflix 

Crock of Gold: A Few Rounds With Shane MacGowan

Julien Temple’s documentary chronicles the turbulent and unruly life of the punk-folk icon and leader of The Pogues. Winning the Jury Prize at the San Sebastian Film Festival in October last year, this is an immersive look at a musical icon.

Available on Volta

Derry Girls

Derry Girls, the raucous sitcom that explores the lives of four cheeky Northern Irish teen girls (and one unobtrusive boy) growing up under English oppression in the 1990s is so brilliant, you have to watch it to really get its gloriousness  The first season was laugh-out-loud hilarious and a phenomenal hit; it became Channel 4’s most-watched comedy since 2004. Also, its opening episode is also the single most-watched TV programme in Northern Irish history. Set during the Troubles, screenwriter Lisa McGee used her upbringing in Derry as inspiration for the show which revolves around four female friends who attend a convent school.

Available on Netflix 

Katie

The critically acclaimed and award-winning Katie Taylor documentary KATIE directed by Ross Whitaker is now on Netflix. KATIE which has been wowing audiences since it picked up the Best Irish Feature Documentary award at the Galway Film Fleadh last summer intimately follows champion boxer Katie Taylor as she attempts to rebuild her career after a year of turmoil threatened to derail her career.

Available on Netflix 

A Date For Mad Mary

Irish star Seána Kerslake won critics over with her remarkable performance as Mary; who returns home from prison to discover her best friend is getting married and that she is the maid of honour. She isn’t allowed to bring a plus one (on the grounds that she probably won’t be able to get one), but she’s determined to prove everybody wrong. Darkly comedic and real, it’s a fantastic (rather underrated) movie worthy of repeated viewings.

Available on Volta

Once

A modern-day musical set on the streets of Dublin, it has a timeless quality quite rare in Irish film. Featuring Glen Hansard and his Irish band “The Frames,” the film tells the story of a street musician and Czech immigrant Marketa Irglova during an eventful week as they write, rehearse and record songs that reveal their unique love story. The song Falling Slowly won the 2008 Academy Award for Best Original Song and the film was even adapted for Broadway.

Available on Volta