Danny Boyle Films Ranked

This article was updated to include Yesterday (2019) on 24th September 2019.

English director Danny Boyle has been a staple of both British cinema and Hollywood for the best part of three decades. After bursting onto the scene with Shallow Grave all the way back in 1994, the now iconic filmmaker has moved between independent film and mainstream fare while effortlessly maintaining his own unique style and offering glimpses of brilliance in amongst some truly exceptional pictures.

The now Oscar-winning director from Radcliffe, Greater Manchester has released 13 films as of 2019, with his silver screen offerings being as wide ranging as Trainspotting and Steve Jobs; he’s even directed stage shows and (did you know) the London 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremony.

He’s a man who seems to have directed them all – cult hits, era-defining works, Oscar-winning movies, timeless horrors – so what better time than the 25th anniversary of his big screen debut feature than to rank each of these films from worst to best in this edition of Ranked?

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13. A Life Less Ordinary (1997)

A Life Less Ordinary Danny Boyle

Openly cited as “the time I tried to make a Hollywood movie and it didn’t work out” by the director himself, A Life Less Ordinary starring rising 90s star Cameron Diaz (whatever happened to her?) and Boyle’s 3-time 90s collaborator Ewan McGregor was almost precisely “ordinary”. A film described as being “tedious and contrived” by the late-great Roger Ebert, this film tried to tell a compelling fantasy tale of angels sent to earth to see if love is really possible, but it didn’t quite hit the mark in the same way Boyle’s wholly more British 90s outings did, relegating this misfire to the bottom of the pile.

12. Trance (2013)

Trance Danny Boyle

Following the mantra of choosing unpredictable directorial projects, Danny Boyle followed up his achievements at the helm of the 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony with the hugely divisive Trance. Mixing a heist movie with a psychological thriller, complete with a nurturing therapist figure (played by Rosario Dawson), Trance was the type of film to either laugh off or become completely engrossed in upon first viewing but seemed to fall apart under further scrutiny regardless of your initial reaction. This was a movie that featured the flare and brilliance of Boyle in moments but ultimately felt less authentic to him than plenty of his other films.

11. The Beach (2000)

The Beach Danny Boyle

Starring Romeo + Juliet and Titanic heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio as a beautiful American man wishing away his Western comforts in favour of a more feral way of life, The Beach was initially met with an outstandingly negative consensus, though such reactions have since faded. Boyle’s fourth feature release, The Beach was initially supposed to star long-term collaborator Ewan McGregor, and the director’s choice to replace him here was the root cause of a split that wouldn’t be rectified until 2017’s T2 Trainspotting. The ills we each suffered were hardly worth the wait, The Beach cashing in on an of-the-time glamour that wasn’t quite in-keeping with the central most subject matter with the film ultimately bombing. Though it has since been re-evaluated as an important time capsule of the new millennium and a much deeper movie than first realised, The Beach remains one of Boyle’s least beloved feature films, earning it its low 10th spot here.

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  • <cite class="fn">Diablita</cite>

    Danny Boyle is one of my favorite directors. Your list and the write-ups are spot on! Great read.

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