The Films of Christopher Nolan

On Friday, Christopher Nolan’s latest film, “Dunkirk,” was released in theaters. It’s gotten incredible reviews, and some are even labeling it as the best film of the year. It’s the ninth feature film relased. While most know him for his work on the Dark Knight trilogy, and for lending his name to the “Justice League” brand, Nolan has a diverse resume of films.

Below, I looked at his previous eight films and ranked them from least to most favorite. Disagree? Have a comment? Hit me up. And be sure to check out these Nolan films before or after seeing “Dunkirk.” It’s more than worth it.

No. 8 Memento (2000)
This was Nolan’s first feature film, and I like it OK, but to me it pales in comparison to his later work. The real hook here is the format (the film is told backwards). The story is OK, and you can see some of the traits that make him a good filmmaker, but I felt like the gimmick of the film’s style overshadowed a lot here. Even a mediocre Nolan film is wonderful, though, so give it a watch.

No. 7 Batman Begins (2005)
This is his first shot at The Dark Knight, and there is a lot to love here. In fact, I do love this film. It’s pretty high on my list of superhero films. I think Christian Bale was a great choice, and aside from Katie Holmes, the whole cast works here. I like the way it re-establishes the world and paves the way for all that’s to come after it. But in terms of a Christopher Nolan film, this isn’t one of the best. His Dark Knight films define him to the masses, in some ways, but that’s barely the tip of his powers as a director.

No. 6 The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Speaking of Batman, this was his final installment in the superhero realm. Some people prefer “Batman Begins,” but I like this one better. It’s a somewhat flawed film, and it’s a little too long, but I like the story and some of the powerful moments and performances. Tom Hardy worked as Bane for me, and I thought the resolution was beautiful. It’s just a shame that this universe didn’t continue.

No. 5 Insomnia (2002)
This movie always has a soft spot in my heart because it was probably the moment I was all in on Nolan as an artist. This is a lesser known film, and his follow-up to “Memento.” It stars Al Pacino, Hilary Swank and Robin Williams as a creepy villain. It’s set in Alaska during the summer, and Nolan does a beautiful job with the images and drawing out some incredible performances. Williams is under-rated as a villain, and he shows it in this film opposite a decent Pacino performance. If you haven’t seen this one, look it up.

No. 4 Interstellar (2014)
This is a film some will quibble about. I will say it didn’t live up to all my expectations. But Nolan tried something ambitious here, and I give him a lot of credit for that. I thought it was three quarters of a perfect film, but kind of fell apart in some ways with a sappy final act. Still, there’s a lot I like about this idea and this movie.

No. 3 The Prestige (2006)
This is vintage Nolan. He made this movie inbetween his first two Batman films, and it’s another one that’s kind of under-the-radar. He includes a number of his Batman collaborators, including Michael Caine and Bale, in a film about magic. It was released near the same time as another magic-themed film, “The Illusionist,” which sucks, but somehow gets conflated with this Nolan classic. Hugh Jackman is great here, too. This is a movie you must see.

No. 2 Inception (2010)
Nolan made this mind-bending film between the final two Batman films. I thought it was one of the best films released in 2010, and still think it should have been nominated for Best Picture. It’s also a film that inspired plenty of different theories about the ending. But looking past that, Leonardo DiCaprio is great here, as is the rest of the cast. This is a near-perfect film.

No. 1 The Dark Knight (2008)
For me, there is no better Nolan film than “The Dark Knight.” This is one of my most favorite films of all time, and I think it’s Nolan’s greatest work. It’s a masterful film and one of the best heist films ever made. It’s a genre film that transcends its genre and is easily the best superhero movie of all time. I also think it’s the best film of the first decade of the 21st Century.


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