What is your favourite Danny Boyle movie?


Danny Boyle, the man who won Great Britain all those Olympic medals, or something, is back. In his new film Trance, James McAvoy lets Rosario Dawson hypnotise him and do whatever she wants with him. The poor fella. Boyle has been hypnotising audiences (see what we did there?) for almost two decades across a range of genres. Let’s take a look at some of the common themes running through his work.

Shallow Grave (1994)

Set in Scotland? Set in Edinburgh but mainly filmed in Glasgow. It could have been any city… they’re all the same
Scottish actor in the lead? Yup. Ewan McGregor
Any psychos? Loads. Everyone’s trying to kill each other. Christopher Eccleston’s is the scariest though
Deaths? Yes. Let’s not get too spoilery, but Keith Allen plays a great body. That’s ‘plays’, not ‘has’
Message? If your future flatmates are mean to you during the interview process, you may not be alive very long
Blistering soundtrack? Boyle started off as he meant to go on. Classics from Nina Simone and Andy Williams lighten the mood, no mean feat
Any dance music in there? Yes. Nice bit of Leftfield. Great way to open Boyle’s career in feature films

Trainspotting (1996)

Set in Scotland? Again, set in Edinburgh but predominantly shot in Glasgow
Scottish actor in the lead? McGregor again, ably supported by Ewen Bremner, Robert Carlyle and Kelly Macdonald
Any psychos? One towering one. Begbie. The Scottish psycho to end all Scottish psychos. No, seriously, he did end the rest of them
Deaths? Yes, from cat faeces
Message? Don’t ever, ever do heroin. Only a moron could take the opposite message from this film
Blistering soundtrack? Oh boy. Only THE soundtrack. And there were two of them. Lust For Life by Iggy Pop became an anthem for high street robbers
Any dance music in there? Lots. Underworld’s Born Slippy was inescapable. And rightly so

A Life Less Ordinary (1997)

Set in Scotland? Nope. Boyle goes to America
Scottish actor in the lead? McGregor… check
Any psychos? Psychotic angels Holly Hunter and Delroy Lindo. Angels are jerks
Deaths? Uh… yeah. If you can kill supernatural beings in humanoid form. That’s angels
Message? Not sure there is one. That angels are more believable than Ewan McGregor as a janitor? Is that a message?
Blistering soundtrack? Oh yes. Very underrated too. Beyond The Sea the highlight. Way better than the movie, Beyond The Sea
Any dance music in there? You can take the Boyle out of Scotland but… etc. Orbital, Prodigy, Faithless… that dancy enough for ya? Even REM’s Leave is vaguely clubby

The Beach (2000)

Set in Scotland? Yikes. Can you imagine how cold this film would have been had it been set in Scotland?
Scottish actor in the lead? Yes… No! McGregor was in line for the part but studio pressure meant Leonardo DiCaprio was called in. Boyle and McGregor fell out
Any psychos? Begbie! Robert Carlyle plays someone called Daffy. Psycho-tastic. To be fairness, any character who wishes to spend their life living on one bit of sand has to be a bit psychotic
Deaths? Yeah, but they’re mostly smug backpacker types, so you’re unlikely to notice/care
Message? Don’t take your hot French girlfriend on a beach holiday with a shirtless Leonardo DiCaprio
Blistering soundtrack? Blistering may be pushing it, but you do forget how good Pure Shores by All Saints is sometimes
Any dance music in there? Maybe. Or sorry, Moby. And that bloody song you just couldn’t get away from

28 Days Later (2002)

Set in Scotland? Nope. After the eerie goings-on in London, Manchester is as far as our heroes get
Scottish actor in the lead? Irish, actually. The always brilliant Cillian Murphy. Yep, even in Tron: Legacy. Ah feck, who are we kiddin’?
Any psychos? Loads. Not the mad folk infected with the Rage virus, but the bloomin’ army
Deaths? Uh… only most of England
Message? For that perfect London tourist experience, wait for all of the city to be wiped out
Blistering soundtrack? Different, but still blistering. Less All Saints, more all-consuming – the score from composer John Murphy is pretty mesmerising
Any dance music in there? Who wants to dance at a time like this?

Millions (2004)

Set in Scotland? Nope. Widnes
Scottish actor in the lead? Another negative. At this stage in Boyle’s career, it was time to call in Jimmy bleedin’ Nesbitt
Any psychos? Jimmy flippin’ Nesbitt is disappointingly un-psychoish in this film
Deaths? Pretty big one. The seven-year-old protagonist’s mother has died
Message? Money is great
Blistering soundtrack? Muse’s greatest ever song, Hysteria. And lots of Christmas classics
Any dance music in there? No Orbital or Underworld. Come on, Boyley!

Sunshine (2007)

Set in Scotland? A film about the sun set in Scotland? I know it’s science fiction but you want the audience to at least keep some sense of reality
Scottish actor in the lead? Nope. It’s an ensemble. Cillian Murphy is back though
Any psychos? The characters are on a mission to reignite the dying sun. They’re all psychos
Deaths? Shedloads. They’re on a mission to reignite the sun, remember?
Message? The Beatles were full of crap. Good Day Sunshine? Good one
Blistering soundtrack? Blistering in that it’s about reigniting the sun. John Murphy and Underworld join forces. Adagio in D Minor goes on to be used in every trailer ever
Any dance music in there? Yay, Underworld!

Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

Set in Scotland? No, it’s set in a country with a sun shining over it
Scottish actor in the lead? No again. Dev Patel is the main man and he’s a Londoner
Any psychos? Oh, I dunno… how about the guy pouring acid into kids’ eyes to blind them?
Deaths? It’s like Millions all over again: hero’s mother dies when he is young
Message? If ever asked a cricket trivia question, the answer is ‘Jack Hobbs’
Blistering soundtrack? AR Rahman comes up with a great one. JAI HO!
Any dance music in there? MIA. Nothing missing in action about this film’s music though

127 Hours (2010)

Set in Scotland? Come on Danny, get back to Scotland! It’s Utah this time
Scottish actor in the lead? No, it’s Spider-Man’s buddy, James Franco
Any psychos? Bizarrely, the guy who cuts his own arm off ISN’T a psycho
Message? Always tell someone where you are going
Blistering soundtrack? AR Rahman again, with some help from Bill Withers. Lovely (Day)… unless you get stuck under a boulder
Any dance music in there? The ultimate dance track: Ça plane pour moi by Plastic Bertrand



7 Responses to “What is your favourite Danny Boyle movie?”

  1. I absolutely loved Trainspotting, that movie is a classic! A Life Less Ordinary is also really cool 😀

  2. yeah thepunktheory, hard to beat Trainspotting. Life Less Ordinary a bit of a mess but still fun. I think if pushed though I’d almost be inclined to go for Shallow Grave

  3. […] Danny Boyle, the man who won Great Britain all those Olympic medals, or something, is back. In his new …read more […]

  4. Trainspotting or Slumdog, close call

  5. It has got to be between Sunshine and 127 Hours. Even though I love every Boyle movie. Can’t wait till Trance. Awesome site guys, I am now a follower. If you get a chance come by my film blog. I recently started out and could use all the help I can get.

  6. I’ve not seen too many of Boyle’s films actually and have not always been the biggest fan of those that I have. I absolutely loathe Slumdog Millionaire, though I recognise I am in the minority on that one. But I absolutely love 127 Hours. I think it is really brilliant, and it was on my top 5 for that year.

  7. alfiemc89 Says:

    Love Trainspotting and Slumdog, but Sunshine is just a beautiful film and highly underrated.

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