Every Christopher Nolan Movie Ranked

When it comes to Hollywood filmmaking, very few match the level of craft of the legendary director Christopher Nolan. He is one such filmmaker whose movies don’t require any unnecessary drama or over-the-top action sequences to be blockbusters. Nolan’s involvement in a project is enough to grab the attention of every cinema enthusiast. Although no Nolan movie is worthless, here, I have ranked his films based on my experience watching them.

12. Following (1998)

A screenshot from Following
Image Courtesy: IMDb

Christopher Nolan made his filmmaking debut with this black-and-white crime thriller in 1998. It was a low-budget film that was financed by the legendary persona himself. In fact, back then, Nolan couldn’t afford a huge crew to handle things for him, so he was the one who served as the director, producer, writer, photographer, editor, and whatnot.

Even though I am not a fan of the film’s cinematography (when compared to his other films), I can’t resist admitting how good the narrative structure was. This pure piece of cinema gave the industry a glimpse of Nolan’s talent.

Following revolves around a young man who loves to follow random people on the streets of London. He doesn’t have any motive to do that. In fact, he is just fascinated by the people around him, and he desperately wants to know about their daily lives. However, one day, a man named Cobb notices the protagonist following him, and since that day, things don’t remain the same for him.

11. Insomnia (2002)

A screenshot from Insomnia
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After working on a low-budget short film Following, Nolan showcased his directorial talent in the studio project Insomnia. It was the remake of the 1977 Norwegian thriller film of the same name, and it’s worth noting that Insomnia was the first film that didn’t see Nolan’s involvement in the writing part.

Insomnia starred the famous actor Robin Williams, who took on an entirely unique role in the film. Fans had never seen the brilliant actor portraying a negative character previously. Williams presented himself in a completely different avatar and worked beside AI Pacino, making the film a huge success. However, despite being one of the greatest films coming from Christopher Nolan, Insomnia remained an underdog.

The story of Insomnia follows two detectives, Hap Eckhart and Will Dormer, who are tasked to help the police solve a murder mystery. However, things take a drastic turn when one of the detectives is accidentally killed by the other one.

10. Batman Begins (2005)

A screenshot from Batman Begins
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Batman Begins was the first film of the celebrated Batman trilogy that helped Nolan draw several accolades. Well, Batman Begins will always be special to me as it introduced us to Christian Bale’s Batman, who is still considered the most legendary Batman of all time.

Secondly, the film features the initial days of Bruce Wayne, so it shows us what trauma the caped crusader had to go through in his childhood. He witnessed the murder of his parents at a very young age, and after hitting rock bottom, the playboy millionaire took matters into his own hands.

With the involvement of a grand cast and a more grounded take on Batman’s origin story, Nolan helped Warner Bros to successfully revive the franchise that died after the release of Batman & Robin in 1997.

9. Memento (2000)

A screenshot from Memento
Image Courtesy: IMDb

Have you ever wondered how a person with a memory condition survives? That’s what Memento is all about. Christopher Nolan is recognized for the complexities the fictional characters of his movies boast, and the lead character of Memento is a perfect example of that.

The film’s plot revolves around Leonard Shelby, whose sole reason to live is to find out his wife’s murderer. However, life isn’t easy for him as he is suffering from short-term memory loss. The condition doesn’t let him remember old memories for a long time and doesn’t let him form new ones. He takes pictures of the things or people to remember them. Moreover, for Indians reading this plot, yes, the Aamir Khan-starrer Ghajini is inspired by this movie.

Memento is basically a revenge story that keeps you hooked with its twists and turns. So, if you are someone who always looks forward to laying their eyes on good films, this one’s definitely waving at you.

8. The Prestige (2006)

A screenshot from Memento
Image Courtesy: IMDb

The primary reason for me to watch The Prestige was the presence of Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman. On the other hand, this brilliant film gives us another opportunity to watch Bale and Michael Caine together on our screens, but this time, not as Bruce Wayne and his trustworthy Alfred.

Since the beginning of his career as a filmmaker, Christopher Nolan has blessed the industry with several critically acclaimed films, but no one can deny that The Prestige has remained one of the most celebrated projects that came for him. The movie may start as a slow burn, but it surely pays off in the end, like most Nolan movies.

The Prestige revolves around two stage magicians named Robert Angier and Alfred Borden. The duo started as friends, but after a tragic accident, they decided to part ways and do whatever it took to outsmart each other.

7. Tenet (2020)

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Christopher Nolan’s fans are aware of the fact that the skillful movie creator sure loves to see the audience getting puzzled. In Tenet, he did exactly the same in the first half of the movie. To be precise, the first half made people scratch their heads in confusion as they couldn’t connect the dots.

However, the second half is more rewarding because it makes sense of the events that happened in the first half of the film. So, the ones who think that Nolan’s Inception comes with the most complex storyline should watch this one to know how complicated a narrative can get if it sees someone like Nolan as the storyteller.

6. Interstellar (2014)

A screenshot from Interstellar
Image Courtesy: IMDb

Interstellar is a space-centered film by Christopher Nolan that might feel overwhelming at times. There are scenes that also seem unnecessary, but despite all these, I call it a masterpiece. It isn’t a perfect film by Nolan, but it involves some aspects that are awe-inspiring. Besides that, some CGIs feel very close to reality. For instance, the concept of a black hole is presented just the way science has described it in reality.

It’s one of those movies that makes you wonder what’s really there out in space and what could happen if mankind could transcend the boundary of time and space. Matthew McConaughey’s acting in this film is as legendary as his ‘Alright, Alright, Alright’ phrase.

5. Inception (2010)

A screenshot from Inception
Image Courtesy: IMDb

You may find several similarities between Inception and Interstellar, but let’s be honest, the latter is way more complicated than the former. Interstellar presents slow storytelling, while Inception comes with a narrative that lets you catch up with the events easily. However, the film also confuses you with the concept of dreams and reality. It might also make you wonder if you are really watching a reality or a dream. The ending of Inception is frustrating but in a good way.

It leaves it to the viewers to decide what they want to take away from the ending. This Nolan movie is neither complicated nor straightforward, as it keeps you guessing what will come next. Nolan’s strong direction, the influential performances from the cast, and, of course, the captivating music helped it bag four Oscars.

4. Dark Knight Rises (2012)

A screenshot from Dark Knight Rises
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While many cinema enthusiasts believe Dark Knight Rises to be the best movie in the trilogy, I feel it lacked in the bad guy department. Well, Bane is a good villain in his own regard, but the presence of Heath Ledger’s Joker was highly missed in the concluding part of the film series.

That being said, the good part about the movie is that it was grander than the previous two entries. The female leads had more depth and the villain pushed Bruce Wayne beyond his limits. There was so much more at stake, and Christopher Nolan’s direction handled everything extremely well.

The music of Dark Knight Rises is unforgettable, and the action sequences are so realistic that several people wonder if there is any CGI in the film.

3. Oppenheimer (2023)

A screenshot from Openheimer
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Oppenheimer is the latest addition to Christopher Nolan’s library. It depicts the significant events of the life of the ‘father of the atomic bomb,’ J. Robert Oppenheimer. The Oscar-winning movie turned out to be the first biopic Nolan has ever worked on. However, he didn’t give us a single opportunity to criticize this masterpiece.

From cinematography to pacing, everything was top-notch. Despite having a runtime of three hours, the film never goes off in any unnecessary directions. It maintains a steady pace from the beginning and delivers what’s important for the viewer.

On top of everything, Nolan couldn’t get a better J. Robert Oppenheimer than Cillian Murphy, who spared no effort to bring the best performance out of himself.

2. Dunkirk (2017)

A screenshot from Dunkirk
Image Courtesy: IMDb

Dunkirk was Nolan’s first attempt at making a historical movie, and, as expected, the director knocked it out of the park. The director wanted to use very little dialogue in the movie, which was indeed a risky thing to do. However, that worked in the movie’s favor, and the music and the cinematography alone made the story intense.

The movie shows us the horrors of World War 2 from two perspectives: land and air. The cast is great, the performances in the movie are incredible, and the music is beyond this world. Dunkirk isn’t appreciated much by the community because it’s not a superhero or sci-fi movie, like Nolan’s most projects. However, it’s surely a cinematic marvel that should get every bit of praise.

1. The Dark Knight (2008)

A screenshot from The Dark Knight
Image Courtesy: IMDb

The Dark Knight is considered the best of all as it gave us the best villain of all time, i.e. the Joker, played by late Heath Ledger. The actor made us acknowledge the mental state of a psychotic person. After watching him portray the badass villain in the film, we learned the extent to which a criminal could go.

With a twisted personality and grim appearance, Ledger’s Joker makes us wonder if we are watching an actor playing a part or if the character from the comic book has possessed the person portraying them. Well, that’s all because of the amazing writing and Nolan’s fantastic direction.

Harvey Dent’s twisted personality was also handled pretty well, and the audience was able to see why he chose to embrace his dark side. Although there were so many good things about the film, I feel it deserved a better ending than the one Nolan decided to proceed with. That being said, The Dark Knight is Nolan’s best work, and it is still appreciated by the community. There’s no film like The Dark Knight, and there won’t be.

comment Comments 2
  • Chutku says:

    Great List. Dunkirk deserves to be in the top 2. We should talk about that film more.

  • Bruce Wayne says:

    THE DARK KNIGHT RISES is The Greatest Film Of All Time !
    THE DARK KNIGHT is a close second.
    THE DARK KNIGHT has the Greatest Movie Ending Of All Time and the Second Greatest Movie Opening Of All Time !
    THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (The Greatest Film Of All Time !) has The Greatest Movie Opening Of All Time !
    It’s ending is a close Second.

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