Boyle. Boyle’s trademark kinetic style makes him an easy-to-spot auteur. He’s often been accused throughout the years (decades) over over-directing. I don’t believe in such a thing—or if I did—it would meant as a compliment that is shared by Kubrick, Hitchcock, Fincher, Wes Anderson, and many others—even if Boyle isn’t quite in their class (I believe they’d say those other four have more control and balance). Trainspotting is a big beacon, a shining light and clear top 500 of all-time film (and there are fewer and fewer directors with a top 500 film left and a definite aesthetic as we near in on 200 directors now). His weakness is that there’s a decent drop off between Trainspotting and everything else he’s directed, and he’s still around, and popular, but hasn’t had a “oh yes that’s for sure in the top 10 of the year” film since 1996.
Best film: Trainspotting. From the justifiably famous opening with Ewan McGregor sprinting to Iggy Pop—Boyle’s Trainspotting, his second film, explodes with ambitious and creative filmmaking. There is still frame wall-art-in-a-museum photography, narrative dexterity, am active camera—like an auteur exploding with a passion for cinema—and it all lands.
total archiveable films: 6
top 100 films: 0
top 500 films: 1 (Trainspotting)
top 100 films of the decade: 1 (Trainspotting)
most overrated: Boyle doesn’t have one actually. He only has one film in the TSPDT consensus top 1000 and that’s Trainspotting at a very respectable (for a 1996 film) #567. I’m higher on it- at #399 (and even that feels low at the time I’m writing this). Slumdog is the only other film that registers on the top 2000 and that’s at #1269- a good spot for it.
most underrated : Steve Jobs. So 28 Days Later, 127 Hours, Slumdog all have a spot on the TSPDT top 1000 of the 21st century but somehow Boyle’s 2015 Steve Jobs is left off. So that means the consensus thinks there are at least 43 films that are superior. Rubbish. Boyle’s three part structure biopic refuses to be conventional (you can accuse Boyle of many thinks but flat or boring isn’t one of them).
gem I want to spotlight : Slumdog Millionaire
- The entire film is filled with genuine energy- vibrant colors, energetic editing
- It’s certainly a unique narrative flashback structure with the flashbacks, each vignettes and yarns of seemingly embellished memories, triggered by the millionaire questions—all of this is a within a flashback where the Patel character is being questioned and tortured
- From a formal standpoint there is a very nice shot distance choice repetition with long shots, overhead shots, and close ups… Boyle often throws in askew angles as well
- Kinetic (the camera paces as do his characters)- he should have worked with Tom Cruise or Dustin Hoffman as his actors are often sprinting through the streets — if it weren’t in German I’d expect many would attribute Tykwer’s Run Lola Run to Boyle
- stream of consciousness editing (think the HIV test jumping to bingo in Trainspotting)
- oblique/dutch angles
- freeze frames
- Boyle will throw the kitchen sink at you from a stylistic standpoint—jump cuts, infused surrealism, a roving camera—dutch/canted angles, low ASL (average shot length)
- Pulsating, dynamic—often infuses pop/rock music needle drops
- Bold colors– expressionistic
- Slumdog Millionaire
- Steve Jobs
- 28 Days Later
- 127 Hours
- Shallow Grave
By year and grades
|1994- Shallow Grave||R|
|2002- 28 Days Later||R|
|2008- Slumdog Millionaire||R/HR|
|2010- 127 Hours||R|
|2015- Steve Jobs||R/HR|
*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film
MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film
HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film
R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives
What do you think of t2 trainspotting. I think it’s quite bad – not archiveable.
Definitely not as good at trainspotting 1996
What do you think?
@Azman– Yeah saw it in 2017. Not amazing- didn’t archive it upon first viewing.
What do you think about Sunshine?
@George- I saw it when it first came out and didn’t think much of it but have been meaning to revisit. How about you?
I love his highly kinetic style. I do think slumdog millionaire should be in the top 1000 though.
I think 28 Days Later closely rivals Trainspotting. The shots of deserted London are contenders for his best images (the one with Big Ben in the background is iconic at this point and deserves to be included on this page) and the really gritty feel of 28DL is perfect for it (also a nice contrast with the ending being shot on a much higher quality camera). Not sure how much you take impact and influence into account but this is definitely his most influential too for the fresh take on a zombie movie (infection, non-slow Romero style zombies). You also have a stellar performance from Cillian Murphy who goes through meaningful changes during the film. Eccelstone is also chilling as the human antagonist here. The score is also brilliant, particularly the intense build of “In The House – In a Heartbeat” during the crescendo of the third act. His kinetic editing style also works well here in the action scenes and adds a mysteriousness to the dream sequence.
Have you ever seen his 2013 film Trance? I feel that’s a hugely underseen gem with great photography and that quick kinetic energy that makes Boyle special. Not an intellegient film but really feels like Boyle is firing on all cylinders with it.
@Harry- I have- but only once (and it has been a decade). I’ll keep an eye out for it the next time it is streaming.