(Just a single rule: mix-tape-style, no more than one film per director. You know, because otherwise the whole thing would be pointless.)
Drama • dir. Danny Boyle • 1996 • UK
Some people will try to tell you that Danny Boyle’s best film is Slumdog Millionaire, the one he won an Oscar for. If you can find a nice enough way of doing it, ignore them. Others will confidently advance the cause of 28 Days Later…, or else wax lyrical about James Franco in 127 Hours. Again, as politely as you can, ignore them. Yet another merry band of seasoned Boyle watchers will say his finest work isn’t even a film, but the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics. They mean well enough, I’m sure. Again, though, I’d urge you to counter such a claim with nothing more encouraging than a cursory nod and smile.
Take it from this 32 year-old who, aged 13, positively begged his dad to watch the 18 certificate Shallow Grave (he watched it first, then acquiesced): for all the competing – and often compelling – claims of his later work, Boyle’s first two films are still his best. A famously energetic director, he hit the ground running with Shallow Grave, then somehow gathered even greater speed with Trainspotting. Every time you watch it, it positively races by. All these years later, it’s still impossibly fresh and irresistibly kinetic. It’s got a great cast of characters, a great story, and a great soundtrack. Ironically, for a film about heroin addicts, it’s just so wonderfully alive. It’s brimful of arresting sounds, images, and action – and, unlike in many other Boyle films, they all fit together. That’s yet another reason why Trainspotting comes out on top. At least from where I’m sitting on the Danny Boyle bandwagon, it remains the first and only time (so far) that he, as instinctive and vibrant a filmmaker as you’ll ever hope to find, also made all the right decisions about what to leave out.