Top-5 Cillian Murphy’s Movies

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I wanted to write this post since months ago…but I patiently waited for this month to come. This month is perfect for me to share my favorite Cillian Murphy’s movies as his birthday is on May 25. This is the first out of 3 posts I am planning to write for Cillian’s birthday. I have asked some of my blogger-friend to write about him on that date, some had agreed to do it, thank you guys 🙂

Click this button to read more post on Cillian Murphy

Writing top-5 movies by Cillian Murphy is much much harder than writing top-5 by Keanu Reeves (which I have written last year). Cillian’s movies have two sides to share, the movie itself and the outstanding performances he had done in it. Some of the movies I considered as his best don’t show his true acting ability. Not many people know that he is such a versatile actor who has never played similar character. He always wanted to do new characters, and when the character appealed him, he didn’t care whether it will be a box office or not, he will pursue the role.

He has appeared in these movies: (The red ones are the ones I haven’t seen yet because I still couldn’t find it yet)

1998: The Tale of Sweety Barrett  as Pat the Barman
1999: Sunburn as Davin McDerby , The Trench as Rag Rockwood
2001 On the Edge as Jonathan Breech; How Harry Became a Tree as Gus; Disco Pigs as Darren/”Pig”
2002: 28 Days Later as Jim
2003: Intermission as John; Girl with a Pearl Earring as Pieter ; Cold Mountain as Bardolph
2005: Batman Begins as Dr. Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow; Red Eye as Jackson Rippner; Breakfast on Pluto as Patrick “Kitten” Braden
2006: The Wind That Shakes the Barley as Damien O’Donovan
2007: Sunshine as Robert Capa; Watching the Detectives as Neil
2008: The Dark Knight as Dr. Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow; The Edge of Love as William Killick
2009: Perrier’s Bounty as Michael McCrea
2010: Peacock as John/Emma Skillpa; Hippie Hippie Shake as Richard Neville; Inception as Robert Fischer ; Tron: Legacy as Edward Dillinger, Jr.

His upcoming movies: At Swim-Two-Birds, Now, Retreat, Red Lights. (With Red Light and Retreat as my most anticipated movies). You can read all about his future project in Cillian Murphy’s Next Projects (Dec 2010)

Cold Mountain, The Dark Knight and Tron will not be included as Cillian only appeared as cameo (You can see his performances as cameo in Cillian Murphy’s Cameo Performances)

As I said before, it is hard to write top-5 movies by Cillian Murphy, that’s why I made 2 version of top-5.

Best Cillian Murphy’s Movies based on the storyline

#5 Sunshine

Sunshine tells the story of a bunch of scientist who tried to save the earth by putting nuclear bomb in the core of sun because the sun was dying. There are so many movies about trying to save the earth but what I like the most about this act to save the earth is the ending, it’s not a happy ending like most save the earth kind of movies.

My review on this movie is here.

What I have read/heard about this movie: Cillian was portraying professor Brian Cox for this movie. After studying lots of physic,he converted from agnostic to atheist.

#4 The Wind That Shakes The Barley

It’s a really good war movies between Ireland and Britain. The story is focusing more on the emotion wrap up between the people of Ireland. It evolved into a contradiction between2 brothers.

I consider this movie as war movie with heart.

My review on this movie is here.

#3 28 Days Later

I need to mention that I am not a fan of zombie movies.

Although 28 Days Later has zombies (or something similar to zombies) but I feel like the movie is more about how people react toward an epidemic rather than how people react toward the living dead. We are not constantly given scenes of zombies chasing normal people (scenes which I find a bit boring), they show us people’s psychology side.

I haven’t reviewed this movie yet even though I have seen it at least 5 times (will review it after my 6th viewing).

#2 Breakfast On Pluto

This number 2 is very close to number 1, I have to think really hard for this one. The gap between number 1 and number 2  is soooo close.

Breakfast on Pluto has simple and yet deep story. It awed me the first time I saw it and it still awed me after so many times of viewing. The story and the acting were flawless. The only reason I put this in number 2 is because I like sci-fi more than drama…but even so, I put this in 2nd after loooooong consideration.

My review on this movie is here.

#1 Inception

Inception is the  best movie in 2010…at least for  me. It was freakin awesome!! It blew my mind like when I first saw The Matrix. This is so my kind of sci-fi movie. the one I have been waiting since The  Matrix.

My review on this movie is here. (Will write another review that centered on Cillian after I bought the DVD)

What I have read/heard about this movie: Cillian was given free choice to play whoever he wants,  he chose Fischer because he had never done a role as rich man. I sort of wish he had picked JGL role so that I can see him more…but his acting will be better as Fischer.

Best Cillian Murphy’s Movies based on his brilliant performance

#5 Red Eye

Although I don’t like the movie (due to its ending) but I have to admit that Cillian played brilliantly in this movie. He was so convincing as a psychopath.  His creepiness in this movie convinced people that he is creepy.

One of my students, when found out that I adore  Cillian, said “How couldyou like him,Miss? he is creepy!!” and  her notion was based upon Red Eye.

My review on this movie is here.

What I have read/heard about the movie: Cillian wanted to work with Wes Craven and willing to fly to LA just to have a talk with him.  At first,Craven had some doubts on him because of his thick Cork accent,but Cillian proved him he do wonder with accent.

#4 Disco Pigs

Although the story is not my kind of story.I have only watched  it twice,but Cillian’s acting was superb. The unusual accent he created was very constant throughout the movie.

I really hate his character here, he was so convincingly annoying. His expression when he stabbed a man with a fork and then acted as if nothing happened was  priceless.

My review on this movie is here.

What I have read/heard about the movie: This movie was based on Cillian Murphy first theatrical performance. The play was acted only by 2 people, Cillian and Eileen Walsh. This play was the turning point of Cillian’s career as he chose to be an actor instead of rock musician.

#3 The Wind That Shakes The Barley

His acting as a quiet doctor who somehow gotten himself involved in the war with British army was very convincing. He didn’t talk much, he was more of the watcher than the talker. We can clearly see the agony he endured when he had to kill his friend.

What I have read/heard about the movie: Cillian was the one who chased down the role despite the fact that the director only wanted to use non-famous actors. Cillian had to pass through some auditions just like those entire non-famous actors. He wanted to work with him so bad.

#2 Peacock

HE WAS AMAZING in this movie He had t played as the shy John Skillpa who was too ashamed to look at anybody directly to their eyes and as Emma Skillpa who was his split personality. Emma was a woman who claimed to be John’s wife. She wanted to get rid of John.

You will not see his gorgeous face in this movie, he even used contact lens because who would believe a shy country man have such incredible blue eyes.

My review on this movie is here.

What I have read/heard about the movie: Cillian reconstructed either his cellar or attic (I forgot which) to be similar with the room in the movie so that he can really feel the atmosphere of that house.

#1 Breakfast On Pluto

I LOVE THIS MOVIE … he was at his best in Breakfast on Pluto (he was also at his best in Peacock but  I love the story of BOP more than Peacock). He was so believable as a transvestite. There was nothing fake in his acting…a brilliant ans superb act.

This movie was the turning point of my adoration toward Cillian. I used to like his face but after watching this movie…I also love his talent. Because of BOP, Cillian has kicked Keanu as my most favorite face-based actor and Tom  Hanks as my most favorite talent-based  actor to second position.

What I have read/heard about the movie: Cillian was the one who kept pushing on Neil Jordan to do the movie. At that time, Jordan was reluctant to do another movie related to IRA. Once the movie was approved, Cillian spent about a month hanging out with real transvestite. He said he wanted to do justice to his character.


If you paid attention to my list, only 2movies are included in both categories, Breakfast on Pluto and The Wind That Shakes The Barley. These 2 movies are timeless for me…I have seen both movies several times without feeling bored.

As I said before, not many people know that he is such a versatile actor…the reason is quite simple, when he  played for big budget movies he didn’t have  the chance to show his real talent but when he played in independent movies, he showed everything he got inside him. That’s why I enjoy his Independent and/ or Irish movies more than his Hollywood movies.

If you have seen his movies, tell me your version of his best 5 movies. It doesn’t have to be 2 versions of best movies like my list 😉

Recent praise on Cillian Murphy by Rodrigo Cortes, the director of his upcoming movies, Red Light, :

“Cillian Murphy is an extraordinary, polyhedral actor, intuitive and fast as lightning, full of truth, able to make everything sound real: he’s a gift for a director, and brings to his character a mixture of purity and disturbing obsession….”
May 2011 issue of Empire


  1. Wow I haven’t seen Disco Pigs, The Wind that Shakes the Barley, Breakfast on Pluto or Peacock. I do agree he was good in Red Eye 😉

    1. aha…you still have a lot of movies to catch before you know his true talent, Castor 😉

      his acting in Red Eye is not his best.

    2. I haven’t seen Disco Pigs either but I can recommend The Wiand That Shakes The Barley and Red Eye, although like Noiva I didn’t like the ending either as I thought it was a bit weak. He does such a good job of making his characters relatable, even if they are psychos, socio-paths or zombie avoiders.

      1. Ah finally!! someone who also thinks that the ending of Red Eye is weak 🙂
        I have been on my own for this one, everyone seemed to enjoy the ending of Red Eye. Yeaaa…cheering for Ronan.
        Yup…he did well in all his movie,even as Cameo he is still manage to make a good character. I didn’t say this because I love him… the truth is,I love him because of he always did good job.

  2. As you know I have seen Breakfast on Pluto recently and The Wind that Shakes the Barley a while back. But I have also seen The Trench and Cold Mountain as well as Sunshine. I haven’t reviwed The Trench yet, might do it some day. It’s not that good. I think my favourite of his movies is The Wind that Shakes the Barley followed by Breakfast on Pluto. I need to see Peacock.

    1. Is Cillian play significant role in The Trench?
      Thore red titles are so hard to find 😦 I want to watch them all (talking about being obsess)

      Yup I know and I am glad you like those movies. I put Breakfast on top of both top-5 because it is a fun movie and in my opinion, he played a more difficult role in Breakfast than in The Wind That Shakes.
      If you finally see Peacock, please let me know what you think. The movie is a bit slow but the acting was superb.

      1. Something about Breakfast on Pluto just put me off and I can’t decide whether it was because he was dressed as a woman or because he looks so convincing 🙂 He actually makes quite an attractive woman, which is a bit disconcerting.

      2. @Caroline A small Role? maybe I should just look at it in Youtube then because you said the movie was not that good.

        @Ronan Huahahaha that is a good excuse not to watch Breakfast on Pluto 😉
        I think the story isn’t the kind that can be enjoy by everyone,but the performance was amazing…He didn’t dress as a woman in the beginning of the story, Ronan…so,you can still watch it till that point 😉
        I hate him for that…he looks more woman-like than me!

  3. “How Harry Became a Tree ” was actually directed by Goran Paskaljevic, a director from my homecountry of Serbia 🙂 It’s was a bit boring, but nice little film. However I must admit I don’t remember Cillian either from that film and from COLD MOUNTAIN and I saw both.

    I loved him most in BREAKFAST ON PLUTO, it’s his signature role, and he was also amazing in THE WIND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY.
    I didn’t like INCEPTION and SUNSHINE although his performances were great in both films.
    He was also amazing in RED EYE in which he totally made weak and mediocre Rachel McAdams disappear on the big screen next to him.

    1. I didn’t know that, well basically I didn’t know the details of each Cillian’s movie that I haven’t seen 😉
      A bit boring? I wonder which one is more boring, How Harry Became a Tree or The Girl With a Pearl earring. I couldn’t stand The Girl With Pearl earring, it was TOOO boring and I tend to fast forward it. Well, actually, Cillian only played as cameo in Cold Mountain, it is very easy to miss him. I have seen his cameo part in youtube and also had uploaded it earlier this year.

      Hear hear on what you said about Breakfast on Pluto and the wind That shakes The Barley, those were two most significant movies by Cillian…they both contained great acting and great story.
      Well…I am a sci-fi geek, I like both Inception and Sunshine instantly, although his performances were great, they weren’t as good as his non sci-fi movies.

      The only reason I watched Red Eye is because of his performance…he was terrific. At first, I thought he was really an American.

      thank you for sharing your thought on Cillian’s movies, Dezz

      1. it’s true, Novroz, GIRL WITH A PEARL EARING was amazingly boring and pointless. Especially thanks to Scarlett’s horrible acting. She kinda ruins every role she takes. Cillian deserves better cast members around him.

        1. Hehehe I am not going to say anything on Scarlet…I want to avoid being shot by T of ScarletSp1der 😉
          I tried watching that movie from the beginning till end because when there is no Cillian,I an still stare at Colin Firth….but the boredom is unbearable…lucky the cinematography was awesome…but still,not the kind of movie I want to rewatch.

    2. I think that is a bit harsh on Ms Adams, Dezmond. She was more than competent in Mean Girls and The Notebook. I’d like to see her do something a bit less sugary than she usually goes for though. I think she could manage just about anything, she has charisma to burn man.

      1. yep, Ronan, I know some people love her and I can see why, she does have a sweet face and sugary charisma, but she hasn’t amazed me by any of her roles so far.

    3. Hi, sorry i write to you just out of nowhere but i saw you mentioned you have seen How Harry become a tree – actually, that’s the only film I havent seen from Cillian and it drives me absolutely crazy that i cant lay my hands on it XD So just asking: where did you get the film? In Serbia in some store, or maybe from the internet somewhere? I you could help me, I’d be sooo happy. From the Amazon and sucj i cannot order it because the region code on the dvd is 1, and i’m in region 2, so wouldnt work in my dvd player:(
      Thank you so much in advance! If it’s better for you to reply in a mail, then i’m a gmail user and “miraxslytherin” is the address.

      1. That’s a good question miraxterrik. I will make sure to let Dezmond knows it.
        It didn’t occur to me to ask him where he saw it before you pop up the question 🙂

        1. LOL, i’m totally obsessed with that film:) Unfortunately it was only broadcasted on tv, that’s where he saw it:(

      2. Well, as far as I remember the film was played in British cinemas back then when it was released which was a long time ago. I believe I watched it on TV since it was broadcast a number of times.
        You should try torrents 🙂 if you can’t find it generally.

        1. No torrents:( There is only 2 uploaded there, one of them fake, the other doesnt move from 0%, that’s why i asked. But if it was tv, then dammit:D Okay, thanks anyways:)

  4. Ahh.. Cillian Murphy, he does have a serial killer face don’t you think? 😀 I think his character role in movie suits his face lol. But he’s a cool guy, i enjoyed watching his movie in Red Eye and in Batman.

    1. Hehehe nope!! he has gorgeous face. He can be both sweet and dangerous at the same time. He put his serial killer face in Red Eye and Batman, he put his pretty face in peacock and breakfast on pluto, he put his cool face in sunshine and Inception….and he still has so many faces 🙂

      1. couldn’t agree more !!! He is a superb actor !!! no matter what character he is assigned to play , he will pull it off with equal ease…and you can’t take your eyes off those baby blue eyes of his , can you ?? lol 😀 so adorable!!!!!!

        1. Hear hear!! even though the movie sometimes not very interesting,but his acting is still…always…interesting to see. He never does anything halfheartedly.

          Ow,those eyes are amazing!!! love them so much,I can melt in those eyes 😉

    2. He seems to have a face to suit every character he plays, the term Chameleon might actually have some relevance when applied to Mr Murphy. He just adapts, wherever you put him and each performance reveals a nu-nuance.

  5. By the way Novia I had to look up the term Polyhedral in google… it means ‘pertaining to a shape with many sides [or faces]’, which just about sums Cillian up. What a unique shape he does cut across the screen and he is like Mystique from X-Men as far as shape-shifting goes, only a little less blue.

    1. I haven’t had chance to look it up in Google yet, googling in mobile is really not fun 😦
      Wow….that really sums up who he is, I like this director even more, it makes me even more eager to see Red Lights. I wonder what kind of character he has given to Cillian that led him to say such great compliment. Red Lights has been my most anticipated movie since I heard rumours of it,the casting was unbelievable…Cillian will team up with DeNiro and Weaver.

      Thank god he is not that blue….except for his eyes 😉

  6. Hmm, so hard question. Maybe this is my list from Best movies POV:
    1. Sunshine
    2. Disco pigs
    3. Inception
    4. Batman begins
    5. Peacock

    Ah, I’m still not sure about it, he’s been in a lot of great movies.

    Performance POV:
    1. Disco pigs
    2. Peacock
    3. Breakfast on…
    4. Red Eye
    5. Wind that shakes…

    Jeez, it was even harder because i soooo love him in On the edge and Watching the detectives and 28 days later. Yay, this list leaves me frustrated:D

    1. Nice selection … thank you for sharing it Miraxterrik 😉
      Hahaha sorry to make you so frustrated. I find it easier to write after I divided it into 2categories. I was having a hard time to when I was planning to write 1 category. The movies that were included in 2 categories are Peacock and disco Pigs, we have different taste here 😉

  7. Fun read, Nov, it’s interesting how you break down the category of movies based on story and performance. It’s so true that sometimes the actor’s performance can still be appreciated even though the film is weak. So for his b’day do we just post the Cillian article on our site and send you the link beforehand? I still don’t know what I want to write yet, most likely I’ll just focus on the first time I saw him on screen.

    Oh btw, I was just in a meeting the other day with my client Chris (who’s also a former co-worker), he’s the one who’s a splitting image of Cillian (especially his lips), and I kept thinking of you. Man I think you won’t be able to concentrate on anything he said, he..he.. his eyes are very blue as well, w/ pale skin and brownish hair, and he’s probably similar height as well, about 5’6″, so in essence they could be brothers!

    1. Thank you Ruth 🙂
      Yeah it was very difficult, he has such an amazing performance in a movie that I don’t really like. Take example of Disco Pigs, it’s not my kind of movie but his performance was great. It wouldn’t be fair to judge his movies only based on the story.

      That’s right, write anything you like to write about him…just like your other post for some actor’s birthday.

      Ahhhhhhhh….can you send him to Indonesia pleaseee…. You should tell him he looks like Cillian 😉

      Thx for the link, will look it up now.

      1. Oh my God! If that guy Ruth was talking about really came to Indonesia, I’m not sure he’d even make it pass the airport gate! Novroz would grab him and steal him away like that woman in Misery in a heartbeat! LOL!!!!

        1. Hahaha…so true!!!
          I have even told my friend, since the place I am working now is so full of bule, if I ever came across a bule man looking so much alike Cillian, I would be shameless to ask him to have a picture with me 😉

          1. Andrew Garfield? He’s the cute guy in The Social Network and also the new Peter Parker in the upcoming Spiderman movie. LOVE him. He’s British, btw. Google him. So adorable, talented, and darn humble!

          2. I tried to find a photo of him on the company’s directory but the dude is shy so he doesn’t even have a picture! Too bad he’s not in strategic marketing ’cause all of the employees under that dept. are required to post a photo on the intranet, ahah. I’m not kidding you Nov, he really does look like Cillian… in some angles he kinda resembles Tom Welling a bit too, his bone structure, but Tom is a big guy and has darker hair so I’d say he looks more like Cillian overall. He’s a super nice guy too, one of my fave clients. I promise if I can get a picture of him I’ll be sure to show you 😉

          3. @Wulan I haven’t watched The Social network yet, I am not interested in watching it anyway…Will watch it when our local TV shows it. I have seen him in someone’s blog about spiderman…yeah he is quite cute.

            @Ruth If he comes back again, ask him for a picture, tell him it is for my friend who is crazy with an actor that looks so much like him 😉
            I am soooo curious now. you’re killing me with curiosity.

  8. Great Post Nov, you are a true fan!!

    I have not seen enough Cillian it would seem, I better get on the case if I am going to do your man justice for the 25th!!

    Thanks for sharing


    1. I am 🙂
      Never have I been a fan of an actor like I am to him before….he is all around adorable.
      I am looking forward for your post C
      Thank you for agreeing on my request.

  9. Great round up:) I definitely agree that he has a chance to showcase his talents as an actor in independent and smaller budget films compared to Hollywood blockbusters like Inception. My favourite performance of his so far is probably in Disco Pigs, simply because it was the first film I saw with him in the big screen and was blown away by how good he was. Really looking forward to seeing him with De Niro in Red Lights, his career is really on the up and up.

    1. Long time no see, Olive 🙂

      hear hear…he was AMAZING in Disco Pigs. I watched after Breakfast, so I have expected to see another brilliant performance (same with watching Peacock). Tho I hope he keeps getting a role in bigbudget movies, but hope he will never stop playing in independent movies where he can be appreciated for his talent.

      The teaming up with DeNiro is like a dream come true, I hope DeNiro can get the best out of Cillian.

  10. i’m so glad that you put Red Eye in your list 😀
    i fell in love with Cillian since i watched Red Eye and I thought the chemistry between him and Rachel McAdams was GREAT!!
    I wish the movie didn’t end like that, though! i want moaaarrrrr :/

    1. yeah the ending was so weak but the acting was great. If it wasn’t it will be another movie I watched simply because Cillian is in it.

  11. Whoaaa… happy birthday to Cillian!!

    even though I am not a big fan of him, but I must admit that his performance in every single movie is brilliant.

    My favourite movies of him (whether based on his performance or story line) are inception, 28 days later, red eye, watching the detectives (is this surprise you? 😀 ) and batman begins

    cheers to Mr. CM and the hontouni cillianiac, Novi! hehe 😉

    1. eh??? you like watching the detective? that was indeed a surprise!!

      I like it too, much better than some of his non-indie movies, such as edge of love. The detective is a bit weird but really fun (plus Cillian looks adorable)

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