4 Best Movies to Watch by John Carney

Staff & contributors

, 2007

Once is about a vacuum cleaner/repairman/street musician and a florist in a boy-meets-girl-then-makes-music tale of love, friendship, family, and freaking great music. You can just feel the passion from this simple but charming low-budget movie capturing the chemistry of music making. The film's music will make your skin tingle and hair stand on end. How good is it? In addition to the film winning an Oscar for its music, the Broadway musical version has won 8 Tonys. In short - get ready for a sonic masterpiece!

Genre: Drama, Music, Romance

Actor: Darren Healy, Geoff Minogue, Gerard Hendrick, Glen Hansard, Hugh Walsh, Mal Whyte, Marcella Plunkett, Markéta Irglová

Director: John Carney

Rating: R

John Carney, who directed the critically and commercially successful Once, may be the world’s best captor of charm. Begin Again tells the story of a broken-hearted singer who gets discovered by a failed showbiz executive. Their ideas and love for music are all they have to face their failures and bring their creativity to life. The original songs are charming and from Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo to Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), Adam Levine, and Cee-Lo Green, the cast generate sparkling chemistry and portray the story beautifully. Begin again is a sweet and effortless watch, yet far from being your classic rom-com.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Music, Romance

Actor: Adam Levine, Andrew Sellon, Aya Cash, Catherine Keener, Cee Lo Green, CeeLo Green, Danielle Brisebois, David Abeles, David Pendleton, Emily Yarbourgh, Eric Burton, Hailee Steinfeld, James Corden, Jen Jacob, Jennifer Li Jackson, Jimmy Palumbo, John Carney, Karen Pittman, Keen Ruffalo, Keira Knightley, Kena Onyenjekwe, Maddie Corman, Madison Love, Marco Assante, Mark Ruffalo, Mary Catherine Garrison, Mos Def, Paul Romero, Rob Morrow, Sama Fernands, Shannon Maree Walsh, Shannon Walsh, Simon Delaney, Stacey Maltin, Terry Lewis, Yasiin Bey

Director: John Carney

Rating: R

In 1980s Dublin, a young Irish catholic-school boy, whose family is facing financial problems starts his own band with the sole objective of impressing a mysterious femme fatale. The film takes you on a beautiful and witty journey through the band’s path to success and our protagonist’s quest in conquering his love all to the rhythm of some of the biggest 80’s pop-rock hits and the band’s own original soundtrack. Without a doubt this film is the long awaited passion project of filmmaker John Carney (Once, Begin Again).

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Music, Romance

Actor: Aidan Gillen, Art Campion, Ben Carolan, Des Keogh, Don Wycherley, Eva-Jane Gaffney, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Ian Kenny, Jack Reynor, Karl Rice, Keith McErlean, Kelly Thornton, Kian Murphy, Kyle Bradley Donaldson, Lucy Boynton, Lydia McGuinness, Marcella Plunkett, Maria Doyle, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Mark McKenna, Paul Roe, Percy Chamburuka, Peter Campion

Director: John Carney

Rating: PG-13

From the director of Once and Sing Street comes Dublin-set Flora and Son, part love letter to music, part not-so-slick advertisement for Apple’s GarageBand. Eve Hewson plays the titular single mother, whose wayward 14-year-old son Max (Orén Kinlan) is one more slip-up away from being sent to youth detention. In an attempt to find an outlet for his unruly teenage energy, she salvages a beat-up guitar, but after he rejects it, there's nothing to do but give it a go herself — cue her belated moment of self-discovery.

Max’s anonymity in the title makes sense, then, because this is much more Flora’s story. However, while Hewson pours energy into the role, she can’t quite transcend the script's limits: Flora’s initial unlikeability (a little too emphatic), and the awkward attempts to roughen up a feel-good story with unconvincingly gritty elements. The film seems aware of audience expectations for a Carney joint, too, so it skips convincing dynamics and fleshed-out supporting characters in its rush to deliver musical setpieces (which never quite reach the catchy heights of Sing Street’s earworms, unfortunately). Still, there's real charm — and some compelling ideas about the magic of music — in here, especially once the film gets past its shaky first third and unabashedly embraces its feel-good heart.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Music

Actor: Ailbhe Cowley, Aislín McGuckin, Amy Huberman, Don Wycherley, Eve Hewson, Jack Reynor, Joni Mitchell, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Katy Perry, Keith McErlean, Kelly Thornton, Lionel Richie, Luke Bryan, Marcella Plunkett, Marcus Lamb, Margarita Murphy, Orén Kinlan, Paul Reid, Sophie Vavasseur

Director: John Carney

Rating: R