The Christopher Nolan Movies RANKED

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After a long, long, long, long wait, Christopher Nolan’s highly-anticipated Tenet is finally hitting the big screen.

But how does Nolan’s latest film stack up against the rest of the legendary director’s filmography?

Here are all the Christopher Nolan movies RANKED.


11. Batman Begins (2005)

The film that started one of cinema’s greatest trilogies of all, Batman Begins is an undeniably impressive and bold new vision of a classic comic book character, bringing unprecedented levels of character depth and real-world grit to his story.

A captivating watch throughout, the film impressively brings deep emotional resonance to what had hitherto been a rather more simplistic comic book origin story, with challenging drama surrounding the character of Bruce Wayne, brought to life brilliantly by Christian Bale.

Complete with spellbinding action and intense visuals, Batman Begins is an undeniably audacious film, albeit one that does languish at moments as a result of an overlong runtime and a drawn-out exposition phase early on.

Read a full review here.


10. Following (1998)

Before hitting the big time in Hollywood, Christopher Nolan was already making waves on the independent scene, with a series of acclaimed short films leading up to his first feature, Following.

On a budget of just $6,000 (millions of times lower than what we’re used to now), Nolan somehow managed to craft an ingenious, mind-bending and utterly engrossing story about voyeurism and the butterfly effect, as we follow the story of a London man who becomes obsessed with following strangers.

Of course, Following has nowhere near the same spectacle as Nolan’s most famous films, but it’s an undeniably impressive watch all the same that clearly marked out the director as something special for the future.

Read a full review here.


9. Insomnia (2002)

It may look like a rather more standard thriller compared with some of Nolan’s more mind-bending films, but that doesn’t mean Insomnia isn’t one of the most exhilarating movies in the director’s copybook.

Starring Al Pacino and Robin Williams in a pair of arguably career-best performances, Insomnia goes deeper than the intrigue of its central crime story. It’s gritty and nasty at times, with Williams proving a genuinely unsettling villain throughout, but there’s so much more to the film than that.

Set in Alaska at the height of summer, the film follows Al Pacino’s LAPD detective as he attempts to solve a murder case while battling the debilitating effects of insomnia during the brightly-lit nights of the Arctic summer. Nolan uses that to craft an intense and powerfully exhausting atmosphere, pulling you deeper into the psyche of the character in ingenious fashion, and making the film all the more thrilling to watch.

Read a full review here.


8. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

An endlessly controversial conclusion to the Dark Knight trilogy, there’s still no getting away from just how impressive and enthralling Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises is.

Though it doesn’t hold a candle to its immediate predecessor due to an overlong runtime and an incomprehensible villain, The Dark Knight Rises brings Batman further down to earth than ever before, with the Caped Crusader finding himself in staggering danger throughout.

Much like the rest of the trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises spectacularly uses existing comic book ideas and puts a gritty, real-world twist on them, but this time turning up the octane as it really seems that the end for Batman is nigh. It’s exciting, hugely impressive and far more gripping than some of its detractors make it out to be.

Read a full review here.


7. The Prestige (2006)

This is where things start getting complicated. An astonishing piece of work that provides one of cinema’s most mind-bending screenplays, The Prestige is an entrancing watch from start to finish, and without doubt one of Nolan’s most challenging films.

It’s not a film to be understood completely, but the mystery struck up by its ambiguity is nothing short of exhilarating. Following the story of two rival magicians who constantly try to push the boundaries in order to one-up the other, the film takes a series of dark and entirely unpredictable turns on the way to a jaw-dropping conclusion.

Featuring fantastic performances across the board, as well as one of Nolan’s more human stories, The Prestige is as emotional as it is enigmatic, and is without doubt one of those films that will leave you pondering hard long after the credits have rolled.

Read a full review here.


6. Inception (2010)

Christopher Nolan’s crowning achievement in the eyes of many, there was nothing like Inception when it first came along. With unprecedented visual effects, a mind-bending screenplay, a legendary score and a fantastic ensemble cast, this journey into the world of dreams was, and even still is, an absolute phenomenon.

Epic, action-packed, mind-bending and more, Inception brought the director’s bold, cerebral storytelling onto the world stage like never before, proving an enormous hit with critics and audiences as it united blockbuster action with a challenging, groundbreaking screenplay.

Unfolding in ways you’d never expect, Inception is a film that pulls you into the world of a dream like no other, providing an entrancing, hypnotic experience that culminates in legendary fashion with one of cinema’s most famous endings. It’s already a modern classic, and for good reason, but might go on to be the film that defines Christopher Nolan.

Read a full review here.


5. Tenet (2020)

Light years more complex than even Inception, Tenet sees Christopher Nolan operating on a totally different level, telling a staggering story that’s both totally incomprehensible and utterly brilliant at the same time.

Fast-paced, action-packed and filled to the brim with intricate sci-fi, drama and mystery, there’s barely a moment to breathe over the course of Tenet’s two and a half hour runtime, as the film requires intense concentration and focus to be fully understood.

That said, Nolan’s expert writing makes an initially incomprehensible watch a thrilling and satisfyingly intricate one in the end. Tenet may lack the character depth of some of the director’s very best films, but its intensity is such that anything beyond its mind-bending sci-fi would be totally overwhelming.

Read a full review here.


4. Memento (2000)

As first forays into Hollywood directing go, there’s no beating Christopher Nolan’s Memento. Light years ahead of its time yet still immensely grounded, it’s an utterly ingenious piece of filmmaking that few films have ever managed to equal.

Told in reverse chronological order, Memento follows a man with short-term memory loss who attempts to piece together the events that led up to the murder of his wife from a series of Polaroid images that give him the clues he cannot remember.

Expertly crafted at every moment, Memento is a mesmerising watch that arguably stands as Nolan’s most intelligent and daring film. It’s not the mind-bending, ambiguous story it may at first seem, and unfolds in both satisfying and thrilling fashion as you begin to piece together clues along with Guy Pearce’s main character. It’s not the action-packed blockbuster thriller that we’ve come to expect from Nolan more recently, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a better psychological thriller from the 21st Century.

Read a full review here.


3. Dunkirk (2017)

Nolan’s films have been endlessly acclaimed for their cerebral nature, with rich, challenging and perplexing depth on a level few filmmakers can ever hope to equal. Yet Dunkirk, one of the director’s very best, is completely different.

The story of the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940 of British forces in the early stages of World War II, this is without doubt one of the most spectacular and experiential war films ever made, landing you right in the middle of the action in breathless and terrifying fashion.

The striking thing about Dunkirk is that it doesn’t prioritise character development or emotional depth, but rather uses its portrayal of the intensity of battle to grab you. Not only a visual masterpiece, this is one of the few films that really showcases the horror of battle, all the while telling a thrilling and inspiring tale of survival against all the odds.

Read a full review here.


2. The Dark Knight (2008)

A truly mind-blowing film from start to finish, The Dark Knight is almost universally hailed as one of the best superhero movies of all time, and it’s easy to see why.

Following on from the gripping but often slow origin story that was Batman Begins, The Dark Knight tells the story of the Caped Crusader’s duel with his greatest foe, The Joker. But more than a pure comic book story of good vs. bad, The Dark Knight is an intense, gritty and breathless rollercoaster of a crime thriller.

Complete with a sensational performance from Heath Ledger as The Joker, this is without doubt one of Nolan’s most exhilarating films, with such staggering intensity, depth and intrigue that it’s impossible to pull your eyes away for even a second. It’s a complex, heart-stopping and truly spectacular feat that stands as a testament to Nolan’s incredible filmmaking ability.

Read a full review here.


1. Interstellar (2014)

The film that marries Nolan’s groundbreaking storytelling and immense spectacle, Interstellar is the big-screen experience.

Jaw-droppingly gorgeous, Interstellar takes you on a spectacular journey through the cosmos as it tells a deeply powerful story of humanity searching for a new home planet. Ingeniously using elements of real science along with mind-bending sci-fi fantasy, there is so much about Interstellar that simply makes you sit back in awe.

Emotionally resonant and deeply personal too, this is without doubt one of Nolan’s most touching films, with numerous moments that will have you close to tears. Meanwhile, its immense scope, hypnotic score and staggeringly audacious screenplay all play into a cinematic experience like no other, and without doubt Christopher Nolan’s very best film.

Read a full review here.

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About Author

The Mad Movie Man, AKA Anthony Cullen, writes articles and reviews about movies and the world of cinema. Since January 1st, 2013, he has watched and reviewed a movie every day. This is the blog dedicated to the project: www.madmovieman.com