Movie Review: Christopher Nolan’s Films Ranked


Image Courtesy of Warner Bros

Christoper Nolan’s long-awaited film “Tenet” was released on Sept. 3.

With theaters slowly opening back up and Christoper Nolan’s long-awaited film “Tenet” releasing, there’s no better time than now to look back on one of the most accomplished directors in Hollywood of this generation. Only a handful of people working today can compare to the incredible track record Nolan has had in the past two-and-a-half decades he’s been working. Even if he does have a few misfires, I always look forward to seeing what he brings to the table.

#11. Following

Had I been alive at the time this film was released and seen it, I probably wouldn’t be too excited for what Christopher Nolan would bring in the future. This film is in no way bad, I just wasn’t at all interested in what he was going for. The 70-minute length doesn’t do the characters or story any favors; it rushes itself and never gives you the time to get invested. This is probably the only movie on this list I wouldn’t consider giving a second watch.


#10. Dunkirk

“Dunkirk” is Nolan’s take on what he would tell in a war story is where I begin to get divisive. War movies aren’t a genre I usually draw myself towards, but there are a few standouts that I do quite enjoy. Visually, “Dunkirk” is stunning, but there’s a very limited amount of dialogue. This pays a toll on the characters and they should be the number one priority when telling a war story. You should be able to get attached to them and root for them to win and go home. Additionally, there’s too many characters, all with completely different storylines that all converge upon each other as the film goes on. On paper it is a good idea, but, with how it turned out, I believe I would have enjoyed it more had it been told in a more straightforward way.


#9. Interstellar

I know a lot of people love this film, but I wasn’t in that group. I do think this is the best handling of characters Nolan does, outside of “The Dark Knight” trilogy. You can feel every bit of emotion for Matthew McConaughey’s character. Hans Zimmer’s score and the visual imagery on the planets are beautiful. When it comes to the story, I didn’t find myself caring for what was going on. I found Matt Damon’s appearance to be a bit distracting from the plot and three hours was way too long for what Nolan’s intentions of the movie were. It lacks focus, and I don’t feel that it stuck the landing in the end.


#8. Tenet

Nolan relies too heavily on spectacle rather than focusing on story in his latest film. The cinematography, visuals, score and choreography are all fantastic, but you never have any grasp or feelings towards the characters. Elizabeth Debicki’s character is the only person you get to know anything about. The dialogue is unnecessarily confusing regarding how complex the plot is. I found myself frustrated about not being able to follow what was going on and that downgraded the experience. On top of that, the sound mixing is horrible, making it so the score dominates the words coming out of the characters mouths. Not explaining to your audience what the movie is even about until an hour and 45 minutes in can be a bit frustrating. However, everything after that mark showed the brilliance of what Nolan can bring to a film.


#7. The Prestige

Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman and Scarlett Johansson give mesmerizing performances in Christopher Nolan’s look on the inner world of magic. I never saw this as one of his more ambitious projects, but there were many moments that hit me with surprises. The lengths the two main characters, played by Bale and Jackman, will go to within their magician rivalry is insane. I understand you can say this for many of his films, but “The Prestige” has one of the best overall looks to it. He’s been doing many films that are heavy on visual effects recently; this doesn’t draw the eye strictly to visuals. Ironic how he brings reality into a movie about magicians but the production design, cinematography and costume design are flat out amazing.


#6. The Dark Knight Rises

Even at his low points, Christopher Nolan still manages to impress me. Without a doubt, this is the weakest of the trilogy, but I never found too many things wrong with it; I definitely like it more than most. Batman is my all-time favorite comic book character and I appreciate the epicness Nolan wanted to bring,  but the way Batman was handled just seemed like Nolan didn’t care about the movie at all. He didn’t even want to make “The Dark Knight Rises.” Warner Brothers forced him to do so after making “Inception.” Story-wise, it’s the sloppiest of all the films on this list. Batman isn’t even present for half the film and there’s still too much going on. With the No Man’s Land storyline, having to develop the origins of Talia Al Ghul (Marion Cotillard), Robin (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Bane (Tom Hardy), Catwoman (Anne Hathaway), there just wasn’t enough space. Minus Talia Al Ghul, I love all those characters! All of that doesn’t ruin the experience for me, and, given how long it is, I don’t find it a drag to watch. It’s not great, but it’s solid.


#5. Insomnia

By far Nolan’s most under-appreciated film. His take on a murder investigation reminiscent of “Fargo,” but without the comedic tone, doesn’t need to be in your face with the grandeur. The simplicity is easy to look past when comparing it to some of his bigger films. The movie was led by three Academy Award winners– Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Hilary Swank– who all give incredible performances. Pacino plays a very complicated protagonist in which the audience seems to doubt him after each decision he makes, even more than Williams. The first time I sat down to watch this, it never clicked in my mind how great this movie truly is.


#4. Memento

This is the prime example, from what Nolan has delivered so far, of his obsession of time manipulation executed in an amazing way. It never follows the rules on how a standard narrative flows. We get the end and the beginning of the story slowly coming together to the middle, which is the conclusion of the film. The color correction is done in a brilliant and innovative way. Every scene told in black and white runs forward, while the colored sequences are being told in reverse order. Guy Pearce is excellent as the main character. “Memento” is wonderful and ends up being one of the director’s crowning achievements. 


#3. Inception

“Inception” did all the things Christopher Nolan wanted “Tenet” to expand on. It seemed as if this movie may have bit off a bigger bite than it could chew but that was not the case. He gets to show off all of his strengths and just let loose. This film does not only crush it with mind-bending visuals and action sequences (especially the hallway fight) it also gives you characters that you actually connect to. The story is a bit too ambiguous, leaving you confused at the final shot. However, a movie about a heist taking place in your dreams is meant to be confusing. It makes more and more sense each time you watch it, and I can only hope that’s the case for “Tenet.”


#2. Batman Begins

After “Batman & Robin” nearly tanked DC into oblivion, Christopher Nolan brought the character back to who Batman should be. The late 1990s and early 2000s was a time where comic book movies were not to be taken seriously, Batman most of all. However, this origin story is one of the greatest superhero beginnings I’ve seen so far. It reframes the landscape of origin stories, Batman films and comic book movies all in one. It is an ultimate story on Bruce Wayne, and the start to his course over one of the greatest trilogies of all time. Cillian Murphy’s Scarecrow is great, only I wish he had a bigger role. For how small it is, it tries too hard to be a big action movie and ends up with bad fight scenes. I like Liam Neeson as an actor a lot, but whitewashing Ra’s Al Ghul is something I really did not like and wouldn’t fly if it were made today. This interpretation of Rachel Dawes, played by Katie Holmes, is outdone in the next film by Maggie Gyllenhaal who does a much better acting job. Nolan did have an unsteady career start, but at least his ambition kept him going.


#1. The Dark Knight

I shouldn’t need to explain what a masterpiece this movie is. Each and every scene is investing and thrilling to watch. Christian Bale isn’t the best Bruce Wayne, but he is an awesome Batman. Heath Ledger gave a stellar, Oscar-winning performance as the Joker that can’t be rivaled by any other actor who has taken or will take on the role. Joker is such a unique character because everyone who has had the opportunity to be in that role has brought something new to the table each time. In this film, Joker’s manipulation has the ability to run through every single character he crosses paths with. Gary Oldman’s Commissioner Gordon, Michael Caine’s Alfred and Aaron Eckhart’s Two-Face are also really good. Incredible action sequences and dialogue. “The Dark Knight” broke the bonds of comic book movies, grounding everything in reality and making this genre bigger than just grown men in spandex fighting bank robbers.