This Friday (November 13) sees the UK release of Steve Jobs, the latest film from British directing legend Danny Boyle.
While the biopic about the Apple founder starring Michael Fassbender has been struggling at the US box office, it has still picked up its fair share of critical praise and awards hype.
Here we take stock of each of Boyle’s films to date, up to and including Steve Jobs, presenting them in a worst to best order so you can get a good idea of where to start if you’re not already au fait with the Lancashire born director.
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11. The Beach (2000)
Though beautiful to look at – and we’re of course talking about the location shots, not DiCarpio with his shirt off at peak pin-up status… ahem… – The Beach fails to capture the complexities of the Alex Garland novel it’s based upon, presenting a shallow and unfocused adaptation. More fondly remembered for that All Saints song, and the corresponding video shot on a cold, north Norfolk beach.
10. A Life Less Ordinary (1997)
Another Boyle film remembered as much for an amazing tie-in song as anything else (in this instance, Ash’s track of the same name), A Life Less Ordinary avoided treading the same rom-com paths with a light sprinkling of the supernatural. Brought down by uncharacteristically poor performances from Ewan McGregor and co-star Cameron Diaz, this proved that despite the critical acclaim of Trainspotting, Boyle was still finding his stylistic feet in the late ’90s.
9. Shallow Grave (1995)
Boyle’s directorial debut introduced us to his partnership with McGregor (the pair would work together on Boyle’s first three films), and immediately gave the Lancashire director prominence on the movie making map. A black-humored thriller that features characters more obnoxious than clever, Shallow Grave‘s second half get schlock happy with gratuitous servings of violence. Despite featuring low on our list, things get pretty good from Boyle from here on out.
8. Trance (2013)
After a run of box office and critical smashes (oh, and that Olympics opening ceremony), Boyle’s stylistic flair was now a second language to cinema goers, something he exploited effectively in the James McAvoy starring Trance. Though thinly written and often needlessly obtuse, Trance is still more than worth a look, especially for fans of the director. Great soundtrack too.
7. Sunshine (2007)
Boyle’s first full-blown attempt at sci-fi (though he’d dabbled with mind-bending subjects before) saw a groups of scientists attempting to deliver an atomic payload to the sun’s core in an effort to reignite our failing nearest star. So far, so far-fetched you might think, but Boyle drafted Professor Brian Cox along as the chief scientific consultant to keep everything as accurate as possible (caveat: this is Hollywood). Deft performances from a cast including Cillian Murphy, Rose Byrne and Chris Evans, along with amazingly rendered special effects and a thought-provoking narrative make this a modern sci-fi classic.
6. Millions (2005)
Perhaps Boyle’s least remembered film, the director’s most family friendly affair saw a group of kids come into a large sum of money after a failed railway heist. Being the kids they are, they set about spending it all as quickly as possible, with charmingly hilarious consequences. It’s all set just a week before a British conversion to the Euro too, so watching it now brings added hilarity as characters attempt to indulge before a failing currency takes over.
5. 28 Days Later (2003)
Boyle’s foray into zombie-apocalypse film making opens with stunning shots of the streets of London empty of human activity (no CGI here, just a very early morning for star Cillian Murphy), after a group of activists sets free a lab-full of extremely warped (and possibly infected) chimps. It’s here where Boyle perfected the on-foot chase scene, with zombies that can sprint like Usain Bolt making for a terrifying foe. Its sequel 28 Weeks Later… is also worth a watch, though Boyle served only as producer.
4. Steve Jobs (2015)
Despite a horrendously slow opening in the US leading to it being pulled from around 2,000 cinemas, Boyle’s Steve Jobs biopic has been picking up favourable critical praise so far. Perhaps we’re tired of the Steve Jobs worship (there’s been two high profile films on the man in as many years), or perhaps we’d all rather believe our iPhones are held together by spiders’ webs and magic, not the technical engineering of a man in a polo neck.
3. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
Boyle’s true breakthrough act scooped the Best Picture award at that year’s Oscars (though admittedly it faced some of the weakest Academy Award competition in recent memory), and cemented the director as a box office draw. A feel-good, rags to riches storyline by way of the world’s most popular quiz show format, its colourful cinematography dazzled among gut-wrenching scenes of poverty. Powerful and entertaining.
2. 127 Hours (2010)
127 Hours would be a daunting feat by any director’s standards. A one-man show taking place solely inside a claustrophobic crevice, where nothing happens apart from some graphic self-surgery to free a trapped appendage. Most would pass on the idea, but Boyle delivered an inventive survival story, with James Franco playing the enigmatic adventuring lead of this true tale.
1. Trainspotting (1996)
A true cinematic classic, and the funniest film about crippling heroin addiction you’ll ever see. This blackest of black comedies serves as stark social comment as much as it does anti-drugs campaign, with the exploits of Renton and co going down in movie history. Boyle’s treatment of Irvine Welsh’s novel is his finest piece of film-making, which has had fans demanding a sequel for years. Which is just as well, as the director and cast are finally reuniting for the sort-of-sequel follow-up adaptation of Welsh’s Porno.