A filmmaker whose movies are celebrated by critics and the general audience alike, Christopher Nolan has deservedly cemented his place as one of the finest filmmakers in modern times. As a pandemic-weary world collectively awaits for the director’s 11th movie Tenet, we revisit his older movies and rank them from
worstleast good to the very best.
Despite the stellar cast of Al Pacino and Robin Williams, Insomnia is largely a forgettable movie. It follows a troubled cop with a haunted past investigating a murder in small-town Alaska. While I’m a big fan of police procedurals, the genre isn’t a great fit for Nolan’s brand of filmmaking.
Dunkirk is one of the few divisive Nolan movies, with critics loving it (Rotten Tomatoes: 92%), and the general audience not being too impressed (IMDb: 7.9). Dunkirk is unlike any other war film. It is narrated from three perspectives – land, air and sea – that all play out across different lengths of time. Considering my lack of familiarity with this sliver of WWII history, I personally found Dunkirk confusing and the timeline too hard to follow.
8. The Following
Despite the shoestring budget, a paltry £6,000, Nolan’s directorial signature is still very much on full display in his directorial debut, as is his fascination with nonlinear storytelling.
7. Batman Begins
Hiring Nolan to relaunch Batman was an inspired choice by Warner Bros, while giving the reins of the DC Extended Universe to Zack Snyder instead of Nolan wasn’t. Batman Begins, which I incidentally watched after the Dark Knight, is easily one of the best superhero origin stories ever. Dark and brooding, it sets the tone for the later movies in this iconic trilogy.
6. The Dark Knight Rises
While Batman Begins provided us with the perfect Batman origin story, The Dark Knight Rises concludes with an extremely gratifying ending. The final sequence of events, featuring the Robin reveal and Alfred nodding towards a familiar-looking couple in a cafe in Florence, was the loudest I’d screamed in a movie theater till the time I watched Avengers: Endgame. While Rises has its share of shortcomings, the utterly satisfying conclusion more than makes up for it.
An ingenious thriller with the story told in reverse, Memento is inventive storytelling at its very best. It features a stellar performance from Guy Pearce, as he plays a man who suffers from short-term memory loss and inscribes tattoos in his body to hunt for his wife’s killer. Incidentally, this trope was successfully “commercialized” by Indian filmmaker AR Murugadoss in making Gajini, one of the biggest blockbusters in India.
Interstellar is blockbuster filmmaking at its most ambitious. Despite a lot of scientific mumbo-jumbo thrown at us, Interstellar is, at its core, a powerfully emotional story about the bond between a father and daughter, and how that love can drive one to attempt the impossible. Featuring grandiose visuals and Hans Zimmer’s spectacular soundtrack, Interstellar remains one of the most epic movie-going experience.
3. The Prestige
Prestige was the portal through which I entered the realm of Christopher Nolan’s movies. This riveting drama about friends turned archnemesis pits Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale as rival magicians in the late 19th century trying to outdo the other. This being a Nolan movie and all, the story is obviously not told in chronological order. Packed with several twists and turn, the stakes keep mounting before culminating in a jaw-dropping ending of epic proportions.
Brimming with original ideas, Inception is the one movie that still amazes me after multiple viewings. The movie is a bold and inventive heist film about a thief who can enter people’s dreams to steal their thoughts. From the incredibly unique idea to the amazing visuals to the extended heist sequence itself, Nolan created an unforgettable action film, unlike anything that had ever existed before.
1. The Dark Knight
A truly groundbreaking movie in modern cinema, The Dark Knight will always remain Nolan’s masterpiece. Featuring Heath Ledger’s iconic portrayal of Joker, Batman’s emotional turmoil, heady action spectacle, and eerily pulsating sequences, The Dark Knight will go down as one of the greatest movies of all time.
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