Monday, December 19, 2011

Top Ranked Films of Danny Boyle

Danny Boyle
3 titles, 85th in points with 9,917

Danny Boyle is constantly surprising people. After a string of well-made films that still didn’t make him a household name, like Shallow Grave (reminiscent of Hitchcock), Millions, and the better-known Trainspotting, which I think has achieved cult status, Boyle made Slumdog Millionaire. This surpising film seemingly combined inspiration from Satyajit Ray’s Apu Trilogy and Mira Nair’s Salaam Bombay (1988) with a popular tv game show in which someone could win a million dollars if they kept risking their current winnings to continue further in the game.

The film covered the lives of two orphaned brothers in Mumbai and a girl they grew up with, showing their lives as children, as teens, and as adults. All the actors were engaging at each level, and the film made overnight international stars of the two young adult leads, the ravishing Freida Pinto, and Dev Patel, who was the quiz show contestant. The highly successful film won 8 Oscars®, including best picture and best director of 2008.

Freida Pinto was 19 when cast in Slumdog Millionaire

A small bit of trivia: the film opens with a chase through the ghetto of Mumbai, and shows a rooster at one point; some orphan kids are being chased by police. Fernando Meirelles' classic from Brazil, City of God (2002), opens with a rooster being chased through the slums of Rio during the film's credits. To me, Boyle's opening seems like a direct visual homage to another classic slum film.

Boyle followed that up with the surprising film 127 Hours, a docudrama recreating the story of a wilderness guide and trekker who gets trapped in a canyon in Utah when he slips into a crevice, dislodging a small boulder that traps him by pinning his right arm between the boulder and a rock wall. If you don’t know the story, I won’t spoil it. If you watch the film, Boyle does a good job of not giving away too much, and maintaining both tension and interest throughout in what could have been a boring man-in-a-trap film.

These are all the films of British director Danny Boyle that made the top 1000 in our 2011 update of theTop Ranked 1000 Films on the Net, all polls.

1. Trainspotting (1995) #170 This film is not for the squeamish, it deals directly with heroin addicts, needles, and toilets
2. Slumdog Millionaire (2008) #220
3. 127 Hours (2010) #786

Just out of the top 1000
4. 28 Days Later (2002) #1175

For my money, there are two more important Boyle films missing. They are more on the entertainment level than the ranked films, but as such, they succeed.

Shallow Grave (1994) - This Hitchcockian crime thriller follows three amateur robbers who make a big heist then hide the money in their attic, then try to remain friends. This is humorous as well as deadly serious crime and resulting paranoia, which is why I’m reminded of Hitch – in fact, this is as good as most of the humorous films of the master.

Millions (2004)  - Some poor kids are playing beside a railroad track in a cardboard playhouse, wishing for money, when a bag of stolen money tossed from the train literally lands on them. The story here is how the money changes a family in good and bad ways, and the tension is maintained by those who lost the money seeking the finders.

See the full list of top ranked 100 directors here: Top Ranked 100 Directors, 2011 Edition

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