Neil Jordan

Jaye Davidson and Stephen Rea in The Crying Game (1992)

Jaye Davidson and Stephen Rea in The Crying Game (1992)

  • Born: 1950
  • Rank: 55
  • Score: 567.00
  • Awards: Oscar (for Screenplay) / LAFC (for Foreign Film) / NYFC (for Screenplay)
  • Nominations: Oscar / DGA / 3 BAFTA’s / Golden Globe
  • Feature Films: 14
  • Best: The Crying Game – 1992
  • Worst: In Dreams – 1999

Top 5 Feature Films:

  1. The Crying Game – 1992
  2. The End of the Affair – 1999
  3. Mona Lisa – 1986
  4. The Good Thief – 2002
  5. The Butcher Boy – 1998

Top 10 Best Director Finishes (Nighthawk Awards):

  • 1986 – 4th – Mona Lisa
  • 1992 – 2nd – The Crying Game
  • 1996 – 6th – Michael Collins
  • 1999 – 4th – The End of the Affair

When Neil Jordan suddenly came out of nowhere with The Crying Game in the early months of 1993, it really shouldn’t have come as such a surprise. After all, he had made several highly acclaimed films in the U.K. (Angel, Company of Wolves, Mona Lisa) before coming to Hollywood in the late 80’s with disastrous results (High Spirits was actually taken away from him and he took his name off it so I don’t count it as one of his films). He then went back to Ireland and made The Miracle before writing and directing The Crying Game. The build-up began with the Golden Globe nomination and then grew as everyone discussed the “secret” and you could hear hushed whispers if you hadn’t seen it as people didn’t want to reveal it. Of course, the secret was kind of given away thanks to the Oscar nominations, but it was used so well in the film, it didn’t even matter if you knew the secret. It was still brilliant.

After he won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, he came back to Hollywood to make Interview with the Vampire (with Stephen Rea as Armand, which should have come as no surprise given how many Jordan films he has been in), but Interview was dogged by bad publicity for the casting of Tom Cruise, when really the problem with the film is the total lack of charisma from Brad Pitt. Louis is kind of whiny and boring to begin with, but Pitt sealed the deal on that one and the brilliant technical aspects of the film where overlooked due to the main performances (though a young Kirsten Dunst was brilliant).  After that he sort of combined Hollywood with Ireland.  He made Michael Collins, anchored by a great Liam Neeson performance.  He made The Butcher Boy, a very under-rated film.  He veered off with the terrible In Dreams, but bounced back with The End of the Affair, the movie Veronica and I saw on our first date, a brilliant adaptation of a brilliant novel.  After that he made The Good Thief, Breakfast on Pluto and The Brave One, all very good films.

The Crying Game – #2 film of 1992

It almost feels wrong to write that – the #2 film of 1992.  There are certain years where there are two great films, so different, yet so even in their quality, it feels wrong to pick between them.  They often end up right next to each other on my all-time lists, they are that close together (there is a list at the end of this review), and in 1992, we had Unforgiven and The Crying Game.  Both were brilliant, both had things to say about the nature of violence and the nature of humanity. Both had great lead performances, incredible supporting performances (both from male and female), great editing and fantastic cinematography.  In the end, I go with Unforgiven, but there are days when I go with The Crying Game.

It starts out as the kind of movie I wouldn’t want to see.  I have no sympathy for the IRA and don’t really enjoy movies that treat them with sympathy.  But Jordan, like Jim Sheridan, doesn’t actually have much sympathy for them and the film that develops in the first half hour, though brilliant and edgy, is not the whole film.  For a long time we just have the conversation between the British soldier and the IRA officer who has kidnapped him.  Their conversation alone makes for a fascinating film.  But then the soldier actually tries to escape at the moment he is supposed to die and what happens after that is the real story.  Because the IRA officer feels responsible and feels he must go to London and deal with his feelings of guilt, to say something to the person the soldier left behind.

And that is where the film gets really interesting.  In great films, you often find the story going someplace that it could be naturally lead (as opposed to bad films which make the stories go where they need the plot to go), yet not where you would expect them to go (that’s what separates them from the merely good or average movie).  Part of the key to this was the casting of Jordan regular Stephen Rea, who was unknown in America at the time, and thus we couldn’t figure out what his character might do.

I won’t say much about the rest of the film in case you actually haven’t seen it, other than to say that while it deserved all of its Oscar nominations, it missed out on Miranda Richardson.  She had a brilliant 1992 and was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for Damage (and Golden Globe nominated for Best Actress for Enchanted April), but this was her best work of 1992 and she deserves recognition.  Hell, she deserved the Oscar, but it was apparently Marisa Tomei’s year.

Other years like 1992 with two even films:

  • 1958 – The Seventh Seal / Touch of Evil
  • 1960 – The Apartment / The Virgin Spring
  • 1984 – Amadeus / A Passage to India
  • 1986 – Platoon / Hannah and Her Sisters
  • 2005 – Munich / Brokeback Mountain
  • 2006 – The Departed / Children of Men