Christopher Nolan has been an undeniable force at the box office for over two decades. Nolan’s signature style and inspiring narrative have left a mark on modern day cinema. His upcoming war film is no exception. Dunkirk will have the biggest 70MM roll out in over 25 years, beating out Quentin Tarantino‘s Hateful Eight. With Nolan’s tenth film being released I decided to rewatch all of his work. What’s his best, worst and what falls in between?
# 9 Insomnia (2002):
Insomnia isn’t a bad film by any stretch of the imagination. However, it pales in comparison to the other films on this list. Maybe that’s due to the fact it’s the only film Christopher Nolan has ever done that’s a remake. Nolan is known for his intuitive, thought provoking films. Yet when watching Insomnia you can’t help but feel almost disengaged.
Al Pacino is sent to a small Alaskan town to investigate a murder. But when Pacino is plagued with a guilty conscience and begins to lose sleep, his sanity is in question. With an idle storyline that fails to capture your attention, you won’t have any problems falling asleep while watching.
#8 The Dark Knight Rises (2012):
Batman Begins and The Dark Knight are considered two of the best superhero movies of all time. Unfortunately, the final film in the trilogy couldn’t live up to its predecessors. With plot holes and head scratching moments it left audiences dissatisfied . Even Tom Hardy as Bane couldn’t come close to filling the villain role like Heath Ledger‘s Joker. TDKR will frustrate fans, while leaving a blemish on the otherwise perfect trilogy.
# 7 Following (1999):
Nolan’s first feature length film came as a noir passion project. The film follows Bill, a man who becomes entranced in strangers every day life. Beautiful shots are composed as the film harnesses the black and white, while effectively working in the gray areas.
Even in his first film Nolan’s formula of flash forwards and doubling back is used with great promise . With a budget of only $6,00o this is an impressive feat… One can only wonder how the film would have turned out with a proper backing behind it.
#6 Interstellar (2014):
When food sources are scarce and crops begin to fail mankind must look to the stars to survive. Cooper (Mathew McConaughey) is chosen along with a select group of astronauts to look for other habitable planets while Earth is dying. A film that has noble ambitions, but loses the audience in confusing science regarding time and space. Interstellar shoots for the stars, but just misses.
#5: Memento (2000):
Memento served as Christopher’s sophomore film.The studios found out what Nolan could do in Following, now they wanted to see what he could do with a bigger budget. Memento follows Leonard ( Guy Pierce) who is trying to solve the mystery of who killed his wife. As if that isn’t challenging enough, the same person also extensively beat Leonard, leaving him with short term memory loss.
What’s so fascinating is the audience is filling in the blanks with the protagonist. Whatever Leonard is seeing, you’re seeing too. Pieces are missing, while you and the lead are desperately trying to make them fit. Unlike Leonard, Memento isn’t a film you will soon forget.
#4 Batman Begins (2005):
The film that started it all! Even though Batman Begins serves as an origin story to the caped crusader played by Christian Bale, it’s so much more. The film not only works as a superhero film, but as a dark crime drama.
Begins also started the long working relationship between Nolan and Michael Cane. This underrated duo has worked on six of Nolan’s nine films. This started by reinventing Alfred, Batman’s loyal butler. Nolan was the first to start the evolution of gritty comic book films and the superhero world hasn’t been the same since.
#3 The Prestige (2006):
Nolan went back to work with Christian Bale and joining him in co-lead is Hugh Jackman. Jackman and Bale play dueling magicians, each trying to outdo the other. Men driven by a need to be remembered for their craft. When passion leads to obsession you wonder how far they are willing to go to outshine the other.
The Prestige once again masters the art of jumping and twisting through narratives. It works as it’s own personal magic show, leaving the audience doe eyed and wondering how the film did it . Nolan pulls off something so spectacular, that it proves to be one of his best tricks yet.
#2 The Dark Knight (2008):
Many would argue this as Nolan’s crown jewel and I completely understand why. The Dark Knight is what turned Christopher Nolan into a household name, for good reason. With the set up created in Batman Begins and the character building of Bruce Wayne it all finally comes to fruition.When throwing Heath Ledgers Joker into the mix, Nolan created the perfectly chaotic Gotham City every Batman fan was waiting for.
#1 . Inception (2010):
With one of the most original story lines and leading man, Leonardo Dicaprio , it’s no surprise Inception took the top spot. The film went on to gross $800 million at the box office and picked up four Oscars at the Academy Awards.
Crossing between reality and a dream is no simple task, if any other director took on this challenge it may have proven impossible. Storylines could easily become muddled and unclear when bouncing between worlds, but Nolan does it flawlessly. Each character’s storyline, intertwining and playing off each other to create beautiful chemistry. While all of Nolan’s films leave a lasting impact, Inception feels the closest you can get to dreaming with your eyes open.