Christopher Nolan at 53: Best Movies Ranked from Oppenheimer to The Dark Knight

Christopher Nolan at 53: Best Movies Ranked from Oppenheimer to The Dark Knight
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Over the years, Christopher Nolan has proved to be one of the best directors in the industry. Considered a master of complex narratives and grand set pieces, it is said that even the worst Nolan movies are better than most other flicks. The usage of practical effects and reliance on films instead of digital video are some of the attributes that make the director a God of cinema.

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Christopher Nolan
Christopher Nolan

Christopher Nolan’s filmmaking style is very distinct from most other filmmakers of this era. Despite his stories consisting of high-level concepts, there’s a grounded approach and a certain old-school style in his works that make Nolan an absolute fan favorite. Having several blockbusters under his collar, the Oppenheimer director is both critically and commercially acclaimed.

As the maestro is celebrating his 53rd Happy Birthday today, we present to you all of Christopher Nolan’s movies ranked from worst to best.

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12. Following (1998)

Following
Following

Following is renowned for being the directorial debut of one of the greatest. Christopher Nolan‘s first movie was made on a strictly tight budget and saw the filmmaker doing most of the work in the movie. It centers around the story of a young writer following random strangers in London until he himself gets followed by a stranger. Several production hurdles accompanied by a massively low budget took the movie a solid 1 year to complete.

Although the movie showed marks of a legend in making who knows the art of filmmaking, it can’t be denied that it doesn’t come very near to his other phenomenal works. The way Christopher Nolan improved over the years made it difficult for this black-and-white noir flick to movies like Interstellar or The Prestige. 

11. Tenet (2020)

Tenet
Tenet

As if Interstellar and Inception weren’t enough to play with the minds of the fans, Tenet presented itself as an unbeatable force. Despite being a visual spectacle with many scenes leaving a lasting impression, the complexity is too much. The whole concept of ‘time inversion’ was way too complicated. The sound issue persistent with most Christopher Nolan movies was frustrating at its best as most of the dialogues were difficult to figure out. The set pieces and the performances might convince the audiences to go for revisits neither the story nor the characters are memorable enough.

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Also Read: “He’s slightly f–king with you”: Robert Pattinson Alarmed Christopher Nolan With His Strange Claims after Being Isolated While Filming ‘Tenet’

10. Insomnia (2002)

Insomnia
Insomnia 

Insomnia starred two of the most significant Hollywood stars Al Pacino and Robin Williams in a complex psychological thriller. This movie was prominent for the filmmaker in a lot of ways. It is the only adaptation under his name based on a Norwegian movie of the same name. The film follows two detectives who are investigating the murder of a girl in the misty small town of Alaska. But the story turns more complex as one of them gets accidentally killed by the other detective.

The movie boasts some intense performances, especially by Robin Williams who shines in his character of the killer. Insomnia made it clear to many critics that Christopher Nolan could handle ensemble casts very well. But even after so much, this film also gets stuck in the vicious cycle of Nolan’s filmography that only gets better with each movie.

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09. Memento (2000)

Memento (1999)
Memento 

Memento was only the second movie by Christopher Nolan but already established his name in the non-linear genre. The movie earned a cult following as it showed the story of Leonard Shelby played by Guy Pearce who sets on a quest to find the killer of his wife. What complicates the situation more is his condition of anterograde amnesia which restricts him from creating new memories. He uses tattoos and photographs to remember the clues.

The storytelling is done in reverse and the movie followed both colored and black-and-white approaches intertwined with each other. Memento is still considered an absolute masterpiece by many and is also praised to be culturally and historically very significant.

08. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

A still from The Dark Knight Rises
A still from The Dark Knight Rises

The conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy is one of the most talked about Nolan movies but in a negative way. Even after being hailed by critics as an amazing end to the story of Christian Bale’s Batman, the audience deemed it to be quite weak. It is also to be noted that this came after the legendary The Dark Knight. This already set the bar too high for the movie to fulfill.

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Still, the movie was successful in showing us a more human side of the Caped Crusader. A feeling of hopelessness as his City crumbled to wars both from external and internal fronts. The gritty and sad tone of the movie accompanied by Tom Hardy’s performance as Bane even though the character was not fleshed out properly makes it for a good watch.

Also Read: Tom Hardy Compared Himself to Christian Bale, Talked About “Drastic” Changes of Bulking Up for The Dark Knight Rises: “You pay the price”

07. Dunkirk (2017)

Cillian Murphy in Dunkirk (2017)
Cillian Murphy in Dunkirk 

Dunkirk is often hailed by many people as one of the greatest war movies with some even calling it the best. The intense war drama was quite different from what Nolan delivered in the past. It presents the real incident of the Dunkirk evacuation during World War II. The movie showed some of the most beautiful cameras works in Cinema without any use of VFX. The emotional aspects in the movie are also commendable with some of the best performances. Dunkirk is a unique take on the genre that has been worked on several times and never fails to deliver.

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06. Batman Begins (2005)

Batman Begins (2005)
Batman Begins 

Following the horrendous performance of Batman & Robin, another reboot announcement of a movie on the savior of Gotham didn’t excite anyone much. But everyone was surprised immediately when Christopher Nolan’s take on the character was seen. The filmmaker who mastered the art of only mind-bending narratives didn’t let anybody expect what they saw.

The grounded approach with the gritty dark tone along with the electrifying performances by Christian Bale, Cillian Murphy, and the others received immense praise. The audience loved the deep messages shown in the movie. Mature audiences got to watch something different and the mature themes that are dealt with in the movie impressed them a lot. Despite the climax attracting some criticism, it was a super start to one of the best superhero trilogies ever made.

05. The Prestige (2006)

Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman in a still from The Prestige
Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman in a still from The Prestige

Christopher Nolan assembled superheroes of different universes as he made The Prestige with Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, and Scarlett Johansson. A tale about two rival magicians presents a very deep emotional movie that is rarely subjected to any bad review by the viewers.

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Packed with some of the most amazing performances by both Jackman and Bale, the film delivers a magically superb plot. As the audience dwells deeper into the psychological space of the characters, we get to know more about their sinister thought processes. The movie provides a totally new experience with every rewatch and is one of his best.

04. Oppenheimer (2023)

Cillian Murphy in and as Oppenheimer
Cillian Murphy in and as Oppenheimer

The latest release by the visionary filmmaker is probably the most non-Nolan movie of his career. Oppenheimer based on the life of the Father of Atomic Bomb presents a huge star cast with some of the most prominent faces cast in the shortest of roles. Delivering the most iconic performances of Cillian Murphy and Robert Downey Jr., this movie will be known for years. The intricate detailing given to the smallest scientific details along with the story shown in three different timelines give us a memorable movie worthy of our full attention. The Trinity Test sequence stands out as a brilliant example of Christopher Nolan’s non-reliance on CGI. Some might also consider Oppenheimer this year’s best feature yet.

Also Read: “Shame on the production team”: Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer Lands Yet Another Controversy After Failing to Credit VFX Crew for a Strange Reason

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03. Inception (2010)

Inception
Inception

Inception made it clear to most fans that nobody can beat Nolan in storytelling. The complicated plot of the Leonardo DiCaprio movie revolved around the idea that dreams could be erased or implanted in other people’s subconscious. The story goes grand as DiCaprio’s Cobb and team played by other major actors design several layers of dreams to fulfill one last mission which can bring back the protagonist back home to his children. While the ending of the film is still a major subject of discussion among many, the extravagant set pieces to the concept of the movie and execution- every aspect was appreciated widely.

02. Interstellar (2014)

Interstellar
Interstellar

Interstellar is one of those movies that can never be forgotten and can present a different experience with each watch. The Christopher Nolan brainchild is adventurous, scientific, and complicated yet one of the most loveable, sad, and deepest movies. The main message doesn’t lie in the complex narrative or the whole confusion of time and space. Its main focus is on love and Matthew McConaughey delivered a breathtaking performance as Coop.

It can’t be praised more how Interstellar manages both the scientific aspects as well as the concept of love transcending time and space so well. Not only the scenes are considered some of the best Cinematic Visuals of all time, but the moments will also be etched in our minds forever.

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01. The Dark Knight (2008)

Heath Ledger
Heath Ledger as Joker In The Dark Knight

There must be hardly anyone who doubts the presence of The Dark Knight not only on the top of Nolan’s list but any list centering on Cinema. One of those rarest superhero flicks that provide far more than the simplistic hero-villain chase, this sequel to Batman Begins is the best Superhero movie. The way it questions on several deep aspects of human morality deserves utmost praise. On top of that the menacing performance of the late Heath Ledger as the iconic Joker is one of the best antagonist portrayals ever. Thanks to Christopher Nolan, the world witnessed how a completely unconventional superhero flick can be much more than a mere project with classic cliches.

Also Read: Quentin Tarantino: Ranking his Top 10 Unforgettable Films

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Written by Subham Mandal

Articles Published: 1171

Subham Mandal is currently working as a content writer for FandomWire with an ardent interest in the world of pop culture. He has written more than 1000 articles on different spheres of modern pop culture and is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. He’s also an experienced student journalist having demonstrated work experience with the Times of India. He aspires to be a column writer in the future.