• Shivam Singh

Christopher Nolan movies, Ranked.

Updated: Dec 15, 2020

The name Christopher Nolan can be easily translated to a very fine cinematic experience or a 'messing with your head' cinematic experience. The trajectory of Nolan's career can be described as huge budgets, great ideas, and the sheer ability to develop a plot so tangled that people get a headache! These movies are truly the work of art.

Tenet, starring John David Washington and Robert Pattison, is Nolan's newly released Sci-fi/Thriller which is performing great despite the movie theatres being closed in a few countries in the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And for most of us who would have to wait for Tenet, we can watch Nolan's other movies in the comfort of our home! Let us get straight to the list!

This list is according to our opinions about the movies and we recommend you to watch all of them as they are great and the choice of genre and the style of story-telling are subjective.

10. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

The Dark Knight Rises, the finale of the Oscar-Winning Dark-Trilogy is the movie where Nolan's ambition, particularly his love of stacking narrative blocks on top of each other, finally got the best of him. The movie begins with a great sequence (plane sequence) to get you hooked to your seats and ends with an amazing sequence as well where all you can say is wow! But the movie felt a bit slow-paced throughout the middle. The stretch kept going and it made certain characters lost in the shuffle and didn't keep up to the first two installments of the trilogy. Still, it was a great movie giving the perfect end to the trilogy.

9. Following (1998)

Nolan's first feature is about a young writer living in London who follows people in the hope of using their lives in his novels, but the hobby becomes an obsession and he soon finds himself going further than intended. Following has everything you associate with Nolan: mercurial figures, an internal universe with a strict set of rules, and a big twist. This movie is very intriguing and brief, and you should add it to your list.

8. Insomnia (2002)

As the only remake and the only movie, he does not have a screenwriting credit on (Hillary Seitz wrote the screenplay), Insomnia can look like the least personal film from an artist not exactly known for bristling self-analysis. But with its mentally unraveling, sleep-deprived detective protagonist played by Al Pacino and its moral handwringing over questions of guilt and integrity, this fog-drenched neo-noir still reflects all the core Nolan thematic obsessions. In his first movie for a major studio, Warner Bros., which has maintained a professional relationship with the director ever since, Nolan proved he could work with A-list movie stars, getting one of the stronger "restrained" dramatic turns from Robin Williams.

7. Batman Begins (2005)

Before this movie, the only popular superhero in the cinemas was Toby Maguire's Spider-Man. But Batman Begins just set a benchmark in the world of superhero movies, with one of the most important characters of the DC comics with Nolan's Bruce Wayne. Batman Begins treats its comic-book references like the Tumbler, the Bat-signal, etc. with reverence and presents its hero with awe, standing him on rooftops and plunging him into the air.

6. Dunkirk (2017)

Of course, a Christopher Nolan war movie was not going to operate like any other kind of war movie. For one, there is not much war in it – it is a flat-out survival story, thousands of Allied soldiers stuck on a French beach and hunkering down amid enemy attacks until civilian boats can whisk them away. And then there's the ticking-clock chronology, Nolan splitting the Dunkirk evacuation story into three distinct timelines, each running at a different speed – the boots-on-the-ground soldier's eye view, the boats-on-the-sea position, and the planes-in-the-air perspective.

5. Interstellar (2014)

After conquering Gotham and delving into the deepest depths of the subconscious in Inception, there was nowhere to go but up, outwards, beyond. And so Interstellar was the film that shot Christopher Nolan into the stratosphere, a movie that is simultaneously his most epic and intimate work. Envisioning a future Earth (an unspecified number of years away) facing annihilation as a crop blight threatens starvation to a decimated population, Matthew McConaughey's pilot Cooper is sent on an intergalactic mission: head into the cosmos, explore a wormhole and find a new home for humanity among the stars. The scene in which Cooper catches up on some old video messages (you know the one) is completely tear-jerking in a way few Nolan films are.

4. Inception (2010)

In Nolan's grandest riddle to date, he explores the power of dreams and the result is an incredibly complex thriller where reality is only in the eye of the beholder. Exploring his usual theme of love and loss, Nolan uses visual effects beyond anything he had done up to that point in his career. And the score by Zimmer is a standout in the duo's constant collaboration. This is a movie that still amazes after multiple viewings.

3. The Dark Knight (2008)

Creating arguably the greatest superhero movie ever made, everything clicks right for Nolan in this one, from the high stakes Bruce Wayne is up against to the action, and, of course, Heath Ledger's incredible performance as The Joker. The movie is a pinnacle in, not only the genre of superhero movies but, excellent character development as well. This movie is rated the world's 4th best movie on IMDb.

2. Memento (2001)

Memento is the film that first put Christopher Nolan on the map, and with good reason. This twisty thriller unravels in reverse order, with Guy Pearce’s lead character trying to solve his wife’s murder whilst dealing with a condition that prevents him from forming new memories. The reverse construction of Memento is genius, with Nolan reinventing a classic noir story while putting his flair on it. Memento is where Nolan found his inner auteur, and while his work would get more refined, there is something to be said for the film's raw energy.

1. The Prestige (2006)

The Prestige is arguably the movie that most plumbs the director's own psyche: He's a man who loves to trick people, who here makes a piece of art about men trying to trick people. Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale star as Robert Angier and Alfred Borden, respectively, colleagues-turned-rivals whose determination to stunt audiences into a state of wonder turns deadly. Angier is the showman, while Borden is the craftsman, but they are both obsessives. What elevates The Prestige above all of Nolan's other work are these two characters and the great performances behind them. And finally, the end that this movie leads to is not something words can describe. Yes, it is that good!

And that was the list! Did we get it right? How would you rank these movies? Tell us in the comments below! Also, subscribe to Daily Dialect to never miss any updates!

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