The Best of Irish Film in 2012

What Richard DidWhile the industry in Ireland generally continues to suffer from lack of focus and direction in an increasingly competitive market.

On the positive side 2012 did see the release of some really great Irish productions. However the perception of Irish film among the cinema going public remains very low. Only one of the 5 films listed below (Albert Nobbs) was somewhat successful at the box office. DVD, TV rights and online sales take a very long time to recoup costs. This is my selection of the best of Irish Film 2012.

1. What Richard did: Having previously given us Adam & Paul and Garage which were both powerful dramas in very different ways, director Lenny Abrahamson shifts his attention the wealthy elites of contemporary Ireland. What Richard did is a superb thriller about an isolated violent event between a group of young people who would not only change to course of their own lives but life in their community forever. Without out a doubt this was the best Irish Film released in the past 5 years are sure to rank somewhere on the list of best ever Irish films. And Lenny Abrahamson is a director with a very bright future.
2, Shadow Dancer: Going along to the closing film at The Galway Film Fleadh, expected to see yet another film about the “troubles” I was greatly surprised, based on a novel by Tom Bradby, an ITV news correspondent he managed to strip away much of politics instead we get a fast-paced spy thriller with an international appeal. Production design by Jon Henson and Costume Design by Lorna Marie Mugan including that powerful image of Andrea (Colette McVeigh) in that striking red coat by the phone booth.
3. Grabbers: an Irish horror and farcical comedy rolled into one. The film opens with the massive visual effects of something alien-like splashing down in the sea off the Irish coast. OK it was not the perfect movie, but the proposition of drinking alcohol to keep blood sucking aliens from eating you is so paddywhackery it works.  The production values are way above its small budget; good cast, writing and the effects were outstanding with good direction and pace from beginning to end. Doing very well in Russia!
4. Albert Nobbs;  Glenn Close spent 15 years trying to get her film adaptation of the George Moore story into production. Finally In late 2010 co-authored by John Banville Glen Close playing the lead role and directing went into production in Cabinteely House. Albert Nobbs a gender-bending tale of a woman forced to live as a man in 19th Century Ireland working as a hotel waiter, with lots of twists along the way. Received three Oscar nominations in 2012: Glenn Close for best actress; Janet McTeer for best supporting actress; and our own Lynn Johnson for Make-up. The most successful Irish film at the box office taking in $5,410,553 (worldwide). The Irish accents were not the best, but an interesting tale, visually boasted by the freak heavy snowfall during filming of December 2010.
5. Silence; Eoghan is a sound recordist who is returning to Ireland for the first time in 15 years. The reason for his return is a job offer: to record landscapes free from man-made sound. Pat Collins produced a beautiful drama documentary featuring some amazing cinematography by Richard Kendrick featuring the wild Irish, sit back and get drawn into Silence.

Turkey of the year

This must be the place: The first 30-40 minutes of this movie are set in Dublin featuring a teenage Goth, Mary (Eve Hewson). There are some interesting shots of Dublin locations and according to France’s CNC; Ireland contributed €2 million (€500,000 from the Irish Film Board) to its overall budget of the €20m (French, Italian, Irish co-production). Featuring an almost mute Sean Penn it reminded in parts somewhat of ‘Paris Texas’ – it was wacky but not in a good way, and two hours of my life that I can never get back.

Best Irish Documentary:

Lon sa Speir: On September 29th 1932 Daredevil photographer Charles Ebbets took a legendary photograph showing 11 workers having a lunch break on the 69th floor of the RCA Building (now the GE Building) 850 feet above  New York. “Lon sa Speir” or “Lunch in the Sky,” narrated by actress Fionnuala Flanagan, and directed by Sean O’Cualáin and produced by Eamonn Ó Cualáin, and “reveals the remarkable story behind the iconic image and tracing the lives of the men some of whom were from Galway. Fascinating.

Up and coming stars.

Jack Reynor: playing the lead role in ‘What Richard Did‘ and later in Kirsten Sheridan’s ‘Dollhouse‘, Reynor has already picked up for his first movie role in LA.

Robert Sheehan: and Tom Vaughan-Lawlor both starring in RTE’s most successful TV drama in years ‘Love/Hate‘. Both actors are destined for bigger roles.

Saoirse Ronan: Star continues to rise, cast to play the lead in the 2013 production of Mary Queen of Scots, written by the successful screenwriter Michael Hirst (Tudors and Vikings)

Kirsten Sheridan:  has proven that she as what it takes to be a good director while ‘Dollhouse’ low-budget unscripted project fell a little short. I expect we will see Kirsten attached to a studio picture in the near future.

Kevin Lehane: First time screenwriter of Grabbers, I expect his name will be back on the screen very soon.


Irish animation has been outperforming all other sectors in Irish film for a number of years. In 2013 one can expect to hear new project announcements from both Brown Bag Films and Jam Media who currently employ over 200 full-time staff between them and growing.

Plenty of new Irish release to come in 2013

 Tom Dowling (c) 2012 – image from The Irish Film Board website.


Categories: Film and TV

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2 replies

  1. Good piece Tom. Slight correction. Lon sa Speir was directed by Sean O’Cualáin, his brother Eamon was the producer.

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