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Film

Danny Boyle’s five favourite films of all time

@Russellisation

As one of the greatest filmmaking talents ever to come out of the United Kingdom, Danny Boyle is somewhat of a national icon, particularly after his efforts conducting the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony. Before 2012 of course, he was already a popular name, having created Shallow Grave, The Beach starring Leonardo DiCaprio, 28 Days Later with Cillian Murphy and Sunshine. 

It was his 1996 Oscar-nominated classic, Trainspotting, starring Ewan McGregor, Jonny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle and Ewen Bremner that would put Danny Boyle’s name on the map, however, with the film becoming an iconic piece of ‘90s filmmaking. Defying genre and tone, Boyle has taken on the depths of horror and the thrills of action cinema, proving every time that he is one of this generation’s finest filmmaking talents. 

Speaking to Rotten Tomatoes about the films that have influenced him most, Danny Boyle commented, “I’ve got an odd list,” before adding, “Things like your ‘top films’ or your ‘top end playlist songs’ — these are the things that keep me awake at night. I watch all of these films through the director’s eyes, and I’ve watched them multiple times — well, except for The Bicycle Thief — to try and bow down and learn”. 

Such begins Danny Boyle’s list of his top 5 favourite films, with Vittorio De Sica’s The Bicycle Thieves his very first choice. A classic of Italian neorealism, the film stars Lamberto Maggiorani and Enzo Staiola, and as Boyle rightly explains, “It is the most beautiful film about a father and a son that I’ve ever seen”. The Trainspotting filmmaker then adds, “Do not be put off by the fact it’s black and white or in Italian…It’s the most beautiful film”. 

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Leaping over the European border from an Italian classic to a French one, Boyle’s second choice is from Louis Malle, who he notes as “one of the great, underrated French directors”. The film itself is Au Revoir Les Enfants, a coming of age tale about a Catholic boarding school and the Jewish boy who has just joined during the height of WWII. Speaking about the power of the film Danny Boyle states, “That’s the best film I’ve ever seen about children. It’s a very, very adult film so, of course, you have to take the kids very seriously…It’s one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever seen; one of the saddest, most moving, genuine films ever”. 

A classic of American cinema, Apocalypse Now makes Danny Boyle’s third choice, a film following the terrors of the Vietnam war, directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen, Dennis Hopper, Harrison Ford and more. With plenty to say about the iconic war film, Boyle stated, “Always, and always number one for me in every list is Apocalypse Now. There are lots of reasons. It’s imperfect; which every film should be. I love action movies. I believe in motion, in the motion picture industry. And Apocalypse Now is the ultimate action movie”. 

The final two films on Boyle’s list are what he considers to be British classics, with the first being one of the finest feats of animation in Aardman’s Wallace and Gromit – The Wrong Trousers, directed by Nick Park. Exclaiming his love for the special artform, Boyle notes, “I’m a huge, HUGE fan of animation — and that sequence at the end, when he’s on the little mini train, is even better action than Apocalypse Now”. Waxing lyrical about the climactic scene of the film, Park further states, “Nick Park is one of the most underrated action directors in the world. If he weren’t only interested in doing Claymation they’d have him doing every action movie. That is the best action sequence I’ve ever seen in a film”. 

To bookend his list of all-time favourites, Boyle has picked the British film, Eureka, a little-known film from the cinematic icon Nicolas Roeg, starring Gene Hackman and Mickey Rourke. Boyle recognises, “I can guarantee you this film isn’t on anyone else’s list,” describing a story in which a man discovers liquid gold and becomes incredibly wealthy. Commenting on the film, Boyle notes, “I love Nick Roeg. He’s idiosyncratic, highly individual and yet for a ten year period he was working in the studio system with big stars like Gene Hackman. Hackman’s never been better”. 

Take a look at the full list of Danny Boyle’s favourite films below.

Danny Boyle’s 5 favourite films:

  • Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979)
  • The Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio De Sica, 1948)
  • Au Revoir Les Enfants (Louis Malle, 1987)
  • Wallace and Gromit – The Wrong Trousers (Nick Park, 1993)
  • Eureka (Nicolas Roeg, 1983)