7. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
Undoubtedly the critical success of Boyle’s career, Slumdog Millionaire won 8 Oscars in 2009, with Boyle taking home the Best Director award for the first and only time in his career. The film, which was told from India through a mix of Hollywood and Bollywood sensibilities, earned 10 nominations overall at that year’s ceremony, with the picture earning a spot in the zeitgeist through its mix of down and dirty filmmaking, and fantastical Bollywood-inspired musical numbers. Popularly received as a movie of hope and joy, Slumdog was perhaps lacking the best of its director’s more serious sentiments and deep thematic explorations, but it did for a small while shine a light on a culture not often thought of in the West but huge nonetheless, and it made for a fun Oscar-winning movie.
6. T2 Trainspotting (2017)
One of the most narratively and visually faithful sequels to ever be put to screen after such a long wait as 20 years, T2 Trainspotting offered something truly magical regarding the presentation of grief-sodden nostalgia and how each of us must, one day or another, acknowledge the pain and guilt of our youth while managing our growing anxieties about old age and our inevitable deaths. Criticised for not quite re-imagining the original enough to warrant the 20 year wait, this Trainspotting sequel wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea but it did earn praise for once again establishing music and monologues as central elements, and did surprise everyone with its representation of memory as a physical manifestation through effortless cut-backs to the original material. More than most movies out there, and specifically more than any in Boyle’s catalogue, T2 Trainspotting captured a very specific moment in each of our lives and presented it in an identifiable way to anyone, whether they’d been through it yet or not, while managing to maintain the rush and come-down narrative arc that had defined the drug-fuelled original as an all-round classic. Perhaps the most underappreciated of Boyle’s work, T2 Trainspotting was more than a simple nostalgia trip sequel, it was a central-figure in Boyle’s imprint on film and a truly worthwhile follow up.
5. Steve Jobs (2015)
Danny Boyle was hardly the first man who must have come to mind when considering names for a biopic about the recently deceased Apple founder Steve Jobs, but his appointment did make for one of the least conventional and most riveting biopics in recent years, Boyle’s signature off-kiltered approach gifting Steve Jobs a feeling of “clever wit and charm” or one of “almost total messiness”, with reviews landing on either side of that line but very rarely in the middle. What Boyle did provide was a unique look at the power of the central most characters and the dynamic he shared with his closest confidantes, Fassbender and Winslet delivering to such a high level that each were nominated in their respective acting categories at the 2016 Oscars. Boyle was of course aided by a fantastic script from the legendary Aaron Sorkin in his realising of the story of this modern technological wizard, which only added to the quality seen in the final product, Steve Jobs becoming one of Boyle’s most established pieces to date.
4. 28 Days Later… (2002)
What if zombies could run? That was the simple premise of this early 2000s horror starring Cillian Murphy as a coma patient who wakes up to the silence of London’s empty streets and comes to discover the terror of an in-progress zombie apocalypse. This Danny Boyle offering featured all of the trademarks of the director’s style, from unnatural camera movements to experimental shot composition and framing, and is one of those films that you could dissect over and over again in search of nuggets of wisdom as regards the filmmaker’s intentions. More so than that, 28 Days Later… remains a go-to entry from Boyle’s catalogue for many because of its lasting pull as not only a very good zombie movie, but one that importantly developed the genre in a fresh and interesting way. At the time people weren’t making movies like this, which is a part of the reason for its lasting success. It was a film that would have been a risk for a filmmaker returning to his British roots, but it was one that ultimately paid off, becoming one of Boyle’s most unique offerings ever put to screen.