These days, Christopher Nolan is a household name. Or at least he’s known as ‘guy who did Inception and Batman’. He doesn’t have too many credits to his name, but the sheer genius of everything he’s involved in speaks volume about his careful choice in material and his ability to deliver. I personally have seen six out of the seven movie’s he’s released under the name director. What’s also incredible is the fact he’s had a hand in writing most of these films too. I’ve always believed a director should be involved in the writing process, so that the visualization can match the execution. So I’ve ranked the six Christopher Nolan movies I’ve seen. Comparison of these movies against each other is like comparing the best athlete when you’re picking from the Miami Heat or the best alcohol for a good night. You’re ranking system can be heavily affected the mere mood you’re in. Being number 6 on a Christopher Nolan film is still like being 20 on the best movies of all time list. Hit the jump to check out number one. Potential spoilers below.
What? Never heard of it? Al Pacino and Robin Williams are in a movie set in Alaska? This cop drama circles around recently displaced Detective Dormer. Alaska doesn’t often allow the sun to set, so Detective Dormer works 24 hours around the clock to solve the mystery of a murdered teen. The drama is compelling and Williams makes an effective villain. I don’t particularly remember the stuff that happens inbetween, but the twist was decent. Not the most memorable movie on this list, but it’s pretty decent none the less.
Last year’s summer blockbuster had everyone talking. Intelligent and visual pleasing, Nolan’s inception proved that even smart movies can make money. One of the most compelling aspects of this film was that it was written by Nolan himself. No source material, no book the movie is based off of, but written by Nolan himself. I like to think that the reason this movie is so powerful is because as director, Nolan can correctly execute what he envisioned as he wrote the script. A thrilling story and intellectual script, Inception fires on all cylinders with aims to enlighten, entertain, and captivate. And with a super powered cast: DiCaprio, Watanabe, Cotillard, Gordon-Levitt, Page etc, Inception rightfully deserves a top spot.
Number five: Inception and number four: Memento are very close to each other. Both are brilliantly written, fantastically executed, and well acted. Memento got the edge because of how well the film was put together and of course [SPOILER ALERT] its deliciously good twist ending. One of the most original movies I’ve ever seen, Memento starts at the end of the story and moves to the beginning of the story. Does that last sentence confuse you? It’s the truth. The movies protagonist has short term memory loss, and can only see events and people as the photos he takes and the tattoos on his body. As the movie progresses you [which technically means it's moving backwards] find out the events that lead up the previous seen you just saw. These bursts, lasting about 15 minutes each or so, allow us to slowly piece together what’s actually happening. Does my description not make sense? Just watch the movie, you’ll get what I’m talking about.
While this isn’t my absolute favorite movie on the list, it’s definitely one of the more groundbreaking. Maybe even more groundbreaking then my number one. I say this because there is a movie that came out about 15 years ago called Batman and Robin. This pun-tastic and childish movie essentially sealed the Batman franchise to its coffin and put a very heavy dent in George Clooney’s career. 10 years after that debacle a relatively unknown director picked up the rights to do another origin story. There were other super hero movies at the time: Spider Man movies and another reboot of Superman, and there were heavy doubts that this new Batman would bring anything new to the table. The critics were blown away, Christopher Nolan became a household name, and this movie could have been the vanguard of the superhero movie craze we have today. Bringing a completely new aspect to the drama, Nolan threw away the typical super hero film in favor of a more realistic and relatable anti-hero. Simply put: Batman was badass again. An origin story that gave us a new look at Batman, one less comically centered and more serious, a polar opposite of Batman and Robin.
2. The Prestige
Prior to this movie, I saw The Illusionist, which is another movie about real magic [no wizards, no spells]. The Illusionist was pretty good. A complaint here or there about the melodrama and such, but a solid film in its own right. Then I saw the Prestige. While comparison of these films are like comparing apples to oranges, the sensation of The Prestige tasted far better than any other orange I had ever tasted. Twists, turns, backstabbing, scheming. One of the first things that screamed out to me was who to root for? You know a film is either really good or really bad when you don’t know who the protagonist of the movie is by the time you hit the middle point. And it’s even better when with each turn, you flip sides. When I’m emotionally complexed during a film, I immediately like it. The whole movie is a game of cat and mouse that captures and captivates a viewer much like the magicians themselves on state. With originality, execution, likable leading men, some might say Nolan is a magician himself by conjuring up a movie so good. [what a horrifically executed metaphor...]
1. The Dark Knight
Unforgettable and compelling, the magnitude of the sheer awesomeness of this movie goes beyond anything I can think of. Even without Ledger’s masterful performance as the Joker, the film in itself proves to be an effective and original cop drama. Nolan already showed us that comic book stories don’t have to be comic book movies with Batman Begins. Instead of taking a popular story between Batman and the Joker and making a 2 hour movie that fits the classic ‘likable hero meets villain, villain threatens hero, hero wins the day’ formula, Nolan maintained an idea of realism and complexity that proves The Dark Knight is not a comic book movie. Spider Man is a comic book movie. The Green Lantern, Iron Man, etc. Those are all comic book movies that are highly formulaic. The reason Dark Knight escapes that stereotype is because Nolan doesn’t stick with the story of Batman, but the story of a flawed vigilante against a maniacal sociopath. And his execution is perfection. With thrilling action sequences, surprise twists, and relentless memorable moments, Nolan shows what he can do at his most unrestrained. Sequels are almost never better than the original. After Begins, any other director would have blown the larger budget given to him [or her] on trying to make it bigger, louder, and better. Nolan meticulously used it to create one of the most unforgettable movies I’ve seen in a long time. Let’s hope he raises the bar again come next Summer.
**Movie Trivia Question: What actor has appeared in 4 of the 6 movies I’ve listed here?