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)

a painterly image from Trainspotting– one of many in Boyle’s greatest work

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).

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is steve-jobs-aljdfkl-boyle-alkdjflajdfl-1024x425.jpg
Boyle knew he was in good hands with Sorkin writing the screenplay and the phenomenal cast assembled, so he focused on shot choices (here and below) and the rigid three part structure.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is steve-jobs-boyle-alkjdflkjadlfk-a-1024x427.jpg

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
entire film is filled with genuine energy- vibrant colors, energetic editing

stylistic innovations/traits:

  • 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
a jaw-dropper from Trainspotting– there’s almost too much to admire (this is a compliment, not a critique) in this film to capture it all with one viewing
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is trainspotting-boyle-lakjdflajsfksdafjklasdfjlskafj--1024x576.jpg
from Trainspotting– Boyle’s pack’s every frame of the 93 minute running time — enough creativity for 10-20 really good films

top 10

  1. Trainspotting
  2. Slumdog Millionaire
  3. Steve Jobs
  4. 28 Days Later
  5. 127 Hours
  6. Shallow Grave
from Shallow Grave– Boyle’s debut, exaggerated colors– could be from Scorsese’s Goodfellas

By year and grades

1994- Shallow Grave R  
1996- Trainspotting MS
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