Ireland's 8 Most Successful Film Directors

Fox Searchlight Pictures
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The Biggest Filmmaking Talents from the Emerald Isle

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Over the last two decades – and especially in the last five years – Ireland’s filmmakers have proven that they can hold their own against Hollywood heavyweights. While Irish actors have always found a place in the film industry, for decades it was very difficult for Irish directors to get a break in mainstream film. Today, Irish directors are making their mark on films of all kinds of genres, including period costume dramas, musicals, and horror movies. 

Several Irish film directors have had major box office hits outside of Ireland, and Hollywood has continued to give work to Irish filmmakers who can produce critical and commercially successful films. Here are today's eight most successful Irish-born film directors, with each listed with his or her biggest worldwide box office hit.

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Lenny Abrahamson


Biggest Hit: Room (2015) $35.4 million

Though Dublin-born director Lenny Abrahamson has yet to have had a film with a huge box office gross, his inventive, low-budget movies Frank and Room were both extremely successful with critics. Room was one of the most acclaimed films of 2015, and Brie Larson won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in the film. Who needs a blockbuster when you can make something as good as Room anyway?

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Ciarán Foy

Sinister 2
Blumhouse Productions

Biggest Hit: Sinister 2 (2015) $52.7 million

Dublin native Ciarán Foy began his career by directing several short films that put him on the map. That led to Foy's first feature, Citadel, a gang violence horror movie that debuted at SXSW 2012. After the critical success of Citadel, Foy was selected to direct Sinister 2, a supernatural horror film. It ended up grossing more than five times its $10 million budget.

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John Crowley

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Biggest Hit: Brooklyn (2015) $62.1 million

Cork-born John Crowley began his career as a director in theater before his 2003 feature film debut as a director, 2003's Intermission starring Colin Farrell, Kelly Macdonald, and Cillian Murphy. Intermission became a critical favorite, which he followed with the low budget features Boy A (2007), Is Anybody There? (2009), Closed Circuit (2013), and his biggest success, Brooklyn (2015). Brooklyn was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

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John Carney

Begin Again
The Weinstein Company

Biggest Hit: Begin Again (2013) $63.5 million

Dublin's own John Carney wrote and directed three features of modest success from 1996 to 2001. Six years later, he returned with the low-budget romantic musical Once, which became a major hit, won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, and then was later turned into a popular Broadway musical. Carney has stuck with music-themed films, finding box office success with 2013's Begin Again, which was nominated for Best Original Song, and 2016's Sing Street.

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Kirsten Sheridan

August Rush

Warner Bros

Biggest Hit: August Rush (2007) $65.3 million

Dublin native Kirsten Sheridan's career began working on the films of her father, Jim Sheridan. She wrote, directed, and edited several short films until making her feature directorial debut with 2001's Disco Pigs. Sheridan, her sister Naomi, and her father were all nominated for the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for 2003's In America. Her next feature as a director was 2007's August Rush, a musical drama based in New York City (where Sheridan went to college).

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Jim Sheridan

In the Name of the Father
Universal Pictures

Biggest Hit: In the Name of the Father (1993) $65.8 million

Wicklow-born Jim Sheridan became a legend in Irish film after starting his career as a playwright. His first film was My Left Foot, which brought Daniel Day-Lewis Academy Award for Best Actor and Brenda Fricker the Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. Sheridan would work with Day-Lewis two more times, including in his highest-grossing film, 1993's In the Name of the Father. He has since crossed over into more commercial movies, like 2005's Get Rich or Die Tryin' and Dream House.

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Gary Shore

Dracula Untold
Universal Pictures

Biggest Hit: Dracula Untold (2014) $217.1 million

Artane, Dublin native Gary Shore went from directing two critically acclaimed short films to directing 2014's Dracula Untold, the Dracula origin movie starring Luke Evans, which was filmed in Northern Ireland. The $70 million movies grossed over $200 million worldwide. Shore's most recent work was (appropriately enough) directing the "St. Patrick's Day" segment in the 2016 horror anthology movie Holidays.

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Neil Jordan

Interview with the Vampire
Warner Bros.

Biggest Hit: Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994) $223.7 million

Though he had been directing films since the early 1980s, Jordan's earliest major success was 1992's The Crying Game. The film won Jordan the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, which helped secure him the director's chair for his biggest box office success, 1994's Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles. Jordan has since directed nine other features of various success, including 1996's Michael Collins and 2007's The Brave One.