Christopher Nolan has done everything from making imaginatively complex dramas about the heights people will go after losing a loved one (“Memento” and “The Prestige”), to resurrecting a comic book franchise for the big screen with sophistication (“The Dark Knight” movies).
Now with his latest movie, “Dunkirk,” he takes on his first-ever war epic.
To celebrate his best movie in years opening on Friday, we look back on the incredible feature film work of Nolan, and in the process, go through the agonizing process of trying to rank them.
Here are all the Christopher Nolan movies, ranked from worst to best:
Following the success of his breakthrough hit, 'Memento,' Nolan was quickly snatched up by Hollywood. Steven Soderbergh pulled him into Warner Bros. and that led to Nolan directing this thriller, starring Al Pacino and Robin Williams. Seeing Williams in the rare bad-guy role was intriguing. But Pacino looking super tired the entire movie, while playing a cop trying to solve a murder in an Alaska town with perpetual daylight, didn't help an already slow-burn story. But we highly recommend the original Norwegian movie it's based on.
Nolan's feature debut is unique right out of the gate: A writer who gets his material by following strangers around. Of course, things get more complex, like when he is put under the wing of a thief. This black-and-white movie shows hints of Nolan's greatness from the surprise reveals in the story to the use of music.
Perhaps Nolan's most ambitious movie to date, his '2001'-like epic look into space even confused the most hardcore of Nolan fans. Perhaps too smart for its own good, it's certainly a movie that will gain more acclaim as new generations come across it.
The final chapter in Nolan's Batman franchise might have hit a little franchise fatigue. And the trouble people had even understanding Tom Hardy's words as Bane didn't help things, either. But, like with most Nolan movies, it has one heck of an ending.
Nolan reboots the Batman franchise with an impressive origin story that rides on the talents of its lead, Christian Bale. Though we had to deal with the lame Scarecrow as the villain (sorry, Cillian Murphy), the movie gave us a lot to be excited about going forward.
Exploring the power of dreams, Nolan delivers 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'd done up to that point. It's a movie that's still amazes after multiple viewings.
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.
Made between 'Batman Begins' and 'The Dark Knight,' it's the movie that doesn't get the respect it deserves in Nolan's filmography. When it came out, 'The Prestige' was talked about in reference to another magician movie that came out the same year, 'The Illusionist' starring Edward Norton. But through time Nolan's movie, starring Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman as competing magicians, has finally begun to get some respect.
Intimately telling the evacuation of Allied forces at Dunkirk, France during World War II, Nolan shows the heroics and fortitude of those involved in the event to perfection. With a stirring score by Hans Zimmer and storytelling that builds up to a thrilling conclusion, Nolan proves in this one he's a living master of filmmaking.
Nolan caught everyone by surprise when this unique who-done-it hit the festival circuit. But by the time the movie had its theatrical release, Nolan was already considered a future star. The movie has a great performance by Guy Pearce as a man looking for the killer of his wife, while suffering from short-term memory loss, but it's the story being told in reverse order that is its standout. The complexity to pull that off proved Nolan was a filmmaker few had ever seen. And 17 years later, you can still discover things within the story that you never caught, however many times you've seen it already.
There's really no better compliment you can give a movie, or its filmmaker.
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