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From Dublin to Your Living Room: A St. Patrick’s Day Watch-Party Extravaganza

From Dublin to Your Living Room: A St. Patrick’s Day Watch-Party Extravaganza

Ah, the enchanting allure of the Emerald Isle: lush countryside, rich folklore, indomitable fighting spirit, deep musical roots and, of course, the quintessential Irish pub. Since the mid-1700s, when the burgeoning Irish community in the British Colonies began celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, March 17 has transformed into far more than a Roman Catholic feast day venerating the patron saint of the homeland. Today, this iconic part of the American melting pot has become a full-blown party, marked by the parades, rivers turned green and spirited revelry.

Well, call this the luck of the Irish, DIRECTV-style. We’re joining the St. Patrick’s Day celebration with our homage to Irish culture: an ultimate watch-party playlist. Our curated collection features comedies, dramedies, Disney enchantment, animated charm, Sean Connery singing, Brendan Gleeson bellowing and more. So, pile your plate high with corned beef and cabbage, pour a pint of Guinness and feast on this fantastic entertainment — all ready for you now.

‘The Commitments’ (1991)

Soul legend Wilson Pickett may not have originally found his biggest audience in the working-class parts of Dublin, but director Alan Parker seems determined to change that with this underdog dramedy. The Commitments follows a garage band of friends, who are white, trying to climb to the top by playing American soul music from Black icons, including Pickett, Al Green, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding and more. “Do you not get it, lads?” asks the band’s leader. “The Irish are the blacks of Europe. And Dubliners are the blacks of Ireland. And the Northside Dubliners are the blacks of Dublin.” The Commitments stands out as a rare musical that convinces audiences the band is genuinely real — because it was. Parker auditioned 3,000 hopeful musicians for the roles of the band members, ultimately building a cast of unknowns that included a then-young Glen Hansard, lead singer of The Frames. Fortunately, there’s no need to wait ‘til the midnight hour for this rollicking good time; The Commitments is available to watch now.

‘Once’ (2007)

A romance filmed on a shoestring budget, Once captivated a global audience thanks, in part, to the original music for the movie — including the Academy Award-winning Falling Slowly — written by co-stars Markéta Irglová and Glen Hansard (who makes his second appearance on this holiday watch list). The film unfolds a heartfelt romance between Hansard’s Irish busker and Irglová, a Czech immigrant, as their connection deepens through a shared passion for music that transcends cultural divides. Filmed in just 17 days on the streets of Dublin with a modest budget of around $150,000, Once had a lasting impact. Beyond winning the Independent Spirit Award for Best Foreign Film, it paved the way for an eight-time Tony-winning Broadway musical.

‘Derry Girls’ (2018–2022)

Teen angst? Financial strain? Ethnonationalist conflict? What could have been a stark portrayal of Irish life in the ‘90s somehow casts those bonds aside to create the hilarious slice of life, Derry Girls. This series delves into the lives of five small-town Catholic teenagers navigating adolescence in Northern Ireland amid the Troubles. Creator and writer Lisa McGee never lets viewers forget the cultural backdrop for the show; yet, she expertly wrings lightning-quick laughter from the girls’ coming-of-age tale, seamlessly blending sentimental moments with chaos and teenage mayhem. With just six half-hour episodes per season (except for the Season 3 finale), Derry Girls is an ideal binge-watch. “It’s a mood lifter,” as one reviewer described it, “goofy but grounded, smart but not overly wry, a bit political but entirely unpreachy. And it’s so f—ing funny.” 

‘The Quiet Man’ (1952)

When you think of John Wayne, romantic comedy may not be the first thing that comes to mind. Yet, in 1952, before defending the Alamo or facing Liberty Valance, Wayne collaborated with iconic filmmaker John Ford in this romantic escapade through the lush fields of Ireland. Wayne’s character, Sean Thornton, a retired boxer, seeks solace in his Irish homeland, where Maureen O’Hara’s fiery sheepherder becomes his tempestuous love interest. While some themes around gender relations reflect the cultural norms of the ’50s, the film’s enduring love for a simpler life, untouched by modernity or major conflict, still resonates today. The sweeping vistas of the Irish countryside are just as timeless; both Ford and cinematographer Winton Hoch won Oscars for the movie.

‘Darby O’Gill and the Little People’ (1959)

Back in 1959, Walt Disney’s Darby O’Gill was no box-office smash — and was upstaged by another Disney release that year, Sleeping Beauty. But there’s so much to love here. In Darby O’Gill, the titular hero, played by veteran stage actor Albert Sharpe, is an aged groundskeeper facing a threat to his job from a charismatic younger man. But when O’Gill accidentally slips through a portal to the Land of the Little People, he soon finds himself in a battle of wits with the leprechaun king, seeking wishes that could alter his fate. Beyond its family-friendly appeal, this movie is notable for another reason: That charismatic younger man is played by Sean Connery, who not only sings in this film, but — legend has it — rode this performance all the way into being cast in what was then a budding new franchise about a British secret service agent named James Bond. Talk about wishcasting.

‘My Left Foot’ (1989)

My Left Foot recounts the remarkable true story of Christy Brown, an Irishman with cerebral palsy who can control only his left foot. With his mother’s support, Brown teaches himself to paint and write, ultimately publishing an unflinching memoir that inspired this film. The movie, acclaimed for its portrayal of life with cerebral palsy, features Daniel Day-Lewis’s first Academy Award-winning performance as Brown — complemented by an Oscar-winning turn by Brenda Fricker, who portrays Brown’s mother.  “It is not an inspirational movie, although it inspires,” Roger Ebert wrote in his review of the film. “It is not a sympathetic movie, although it inspires sympathy. It is the story of a stubborn, difficult, blessed and gifted man who was dealt a bad hand, who played it brilliantly, and who left us some good books, some good paintings and the example of his courage.”

‘The Banshees of Inisherin’ (2022)

The most recent film on this list, The Banshees of Inisherin is a period piece straddling the line between comedy and drama, or perhaps comedy and tragedy. Set against the backdrop of the 1923 Irish Civil War, the film follows two once-best friends — played by Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson — as they reassess their lives after one turns away from the other. With the real-life islands of Inishmore and Achill creating the sweeping setting for the fictional isle of Inisherin, Banshees earned eight Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor. It marks the most recent collaboration between director Martin McDonagh and Farrell and Gleeson, reuniting them after their 2008 breakthrough film In Bruges. If you haven’t seen Banshees yet, now’s the time.

‘Waking Ned Devine’ (1998)

In the quaint Irish village of Tulaigh Mhór (Tully More), a stroke of luck is about to make someone very rich: Ned Devine, who just snagged the 7-million-pound jackpot of the Irish National Lottery. There’s only one more snag: Devine has the golden ticket, but also a bum ticker, and the excitement of winning stops his heart quicker than an Irish jig. Enter Devine’s quirky, clever neighbors, who hatch a scheme to convince lottery officials that Devine is still kicking. The logic? If Devine can’t claim the cash, the town may as well team up to split the pot of gold. It results in a charming comedy that celebrates community, revels in timeless mischievousness and offers plenty of heart (the ones still beating, anyway).

‘The Secret of Kells’ (2009)

With an animated style reminiscent of medieval times, what started as a director’s college project evolved into an unexpected Oscar darling. In The Secret of Kells, co-directors Nora Twomey and Tomm Moore unveil an Irish cartoon that tells the story of a young monk captivated by the task of completing the Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript containing the four New Testament Gospels in Latin. To fulfill this mission, the boy must defy his uncle, Abbot Cellach (voiced by Brendan Gleeson, making his second appearance on this list), and venture beyond the fortified monastery walls into a mysterious dark forest, where he encounters an array of mystical creatures as he aims to complete his quest. The film is steeped in Celtic mythology and proud Irish history: The Book of Kells is very real — a 9th-century national treasure housed today at Trinity College in Dublin. The movie’s style is an ode to the past, as well: In an animation era dominated by computer-generated 3D wizardry, The Secret of Kells stands out as a largely hand-drawn 2D film, adopting a stylized approach that pays homage to its literary inspiration. Moore initially conceived the idea as a student at Dublin’s Ballyfermot College; a decade later, his team’s labor of love earned a nomination for the 2010 feature animation Oscar.

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