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  • Tishya Doraiswamy

Best Christopher Nolan Films of All Time

There’s a famous quote, “You either die, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain”. If you’ve ever heard it, you’ve probably watched the world-famous, and one of the best superhero films of all time, The Dark Knight. If you’ve watched that, you’ve also probably heard of its director, Christopher Nolan.

Christopher Nolan

He’s one of the best movie directors of the 21st century according to IMDb, and for good reason. With some of the most riveting plots, mind-bending stories, and best actors featuring in his films, it’s difficult to take one's eyes off the screen once you begin watching a movie of his, and it’s almost impossible to stop thinking about it after the viewing. 

The British American film-maker is one of the most well-known in cinema today, with his films garnering 34 Oscar nominations and winning 10. His love for film-making began at an exceptionally young age, when, at 7 years old, he would use his father’s camera to film short films with action figures, using stop-motion and building sets using scraps around the house. He knew he wanted to be a film-maker by the age of 11, making several short films during his youth. 

As we celebrate his birthday, we have a gift - for you. So, here are our favourite Christopher Nolan films:

Insomnia, 2002 (IMDb: 7.2/10)

This psychological thriller film, a remake and namesake of an earlier Norwegian film, is one of his forgotten gems, based on a small-town killing of a young girl. Detective Will Dormer, played by Al Pacino, goes to investigate the brutal murder and gets sucked into a psychologically mind-bending series of events. By complicating the character of the detective, however, Nolan was able to make an otherwise typical murder mystery into so much more than that. Another notable difference is that all the suspense takes place in the 24-hour daylight of the northern reaches of the world. It’s strange - most murder mysteries rely on darkness to add an element of fear and suspense, but somehow, Christopher Nolan manages to do just that with sunlight. 

We’d be lying if we said this isn’t one of his most criminally underrated films - unless of course, you don’t like gripping acting, beautiful sets, and an absolutely chilling storyline. 

The Prestige, 2006 (IMDb: 8.5/10)

Available on Amazon Prime

It’s not your typical Christopher Nolan film - it’s about magicians. And yet, he manages to make it into a psychological thriller - a story of friendships turned rivalries, illusions gone wrong, and magic tricks turned into a dance with death. Based on a novel by Christopher Priest, this film features yet another one of Nolan’s many iconic castes - Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Scarlett Johansson, and Michael Cane. It tells the tale of magicians Robert Angier and Alfred Borden, who were once friends. However, when Angier’s wife drowns during a trick gone wrong, Angier blames Borden for the death, beginning their hateful relationship. The movie is gripping to watch, as you see obsession, jealousy, and hate bloom before your eyes.

Interstellar, 2014 (IMDb: 8.6/10)

Available on Amazon Prime

Along with Inception, this film is incredibly difficult to describe, simply because the plot can’t be adequately put into words - but we’ll try. In a future where humanity is at the brink of dying out, a once pilot, now farmer Joseph Cooper finds his way to a secret NASA facility, where he is recruited for a mission to survey planets where humanity can continue its existence. If that’s not heavy enough, add to it the complexity of a father-daughter relationship, shifts in space-time, and a tesseract constructed by the humans of the future and - well, we’d still not be close to explaining the beauty and complexity of this film. Stunning imagery, feelings of loss, joy, love, and relief - these are what embody the film. And under the direction of Nolan, it’s made into one of our favourite films of recent cinematic history. The film was nominated for 5 Academy Awards, winning in the category of Best Visual Effects. 

Dunkirk, 2017 (IMDb: 7.9/10)

Available on Amazon Prime

Yes, it’s the one with Harry Styles. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about what else it is - a powerful, dramatic, complex, overwhelmingly silent - and one of the highest-grossing World War 2 films. As its name suggests, the story portrays the historic Dunkirk evacuation of the war, portraying it from sea, land, and air. Although it employs minimal dialogue, everything and more is conveyed through the film’s beautiful cinematography and music. The Germans are never seen - they remain hidden in submarines and airplanes, and whiz by as bullets. And yet - the enemy’s presence is ever-pervasive. The film rightfully received eight Oscar nominations and won three.

Inception, 2010 (IMDb: 8.8/10)

Available on Amazon Prime

I’d be lying if I said I understood Inception on the first try - I actually got far too mind-boggled to continue beyond the first five minutes. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Tom Hardy, the film is one of Nolan’s most mind-bending ones yet, which means it’s insanely mind-bending. The science fiction film revolves around Dom Cobb, a ‘dream thief’ who can enter people’s dreams and steal their secrets, making him highly demanded as an asset. However, having lost everything he cared for in the process, he is given a chance at getting his life back. He must perform an impossible task, and having an enemy trying to stop him doesn’t help. The movie is extremely complex, and, as Times of India said, makes you “push the boundaries of your mind”. The film won 4 out of 8 of the Academy Awards it was nominated for.

The Dark Knight Trilogy

Available on Amazon Prime

Now, if you are a person living on this planet, there are little chances that you haven’t watched the 3 Batman films directed by Nolan. Just in case you haven’t, let us help you with some motivation to add these 3 films in your watchlist.

Batman Begins, 2005 (IMDB: 8.2)

This film shot in Chicago is about how Batman begins his fight to free crime-ridden Gotham City from corruption.

The Dark Knight, 2008 (IMDB: 9)

This film introduces the legendary character of “The Joker” played by Heath Ledger who wreaks havoc and chaos on the people of Gotham city. Batman once again rises to the rescue to fight injustice.

Ledger received an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as The Joker. Unfortunately, Ledger died before the movie was released and the award was given posthumously.

The Dark Knight Rises, 2012 (IMDB: 8.4),

This film introduces a new villain “Bane”- who arguably might just be the most dreaded and cruel villain in the trilogy. Interestingly, Batman does find a beautiful partner in the enigmatic Catwoman as he fights Bane.

All the 3 movies, with combined earnings of approximately 1.5 billion dollars are available on Amazon Prime membership.

Doodlebug, 1997 (IMDb: 7.1/10)

Available on YouTube

Now, you’ve probably not heard of this short film, but we thought we’d include it as a special mention. Although it has no dialogue, this three-minute film keeps you gripped the entire time. In a grimy apartment, a paranoid man is trying to kill a tiny bug on the floor. It’s a very strange piece to watch, but difficult to get out of your head once you do.

Christopher Nolan’s cinematography is one of the most distinct and interesting, and his ability to weave the most riveting stories, explore the most mind-bending themes, and create the most layered characters is unmatched. His films are a perfect blend of beautiful soundtracks, emotional plots, and stunning sets. They make you cry and laugh and shudder - and we can’t wait for the next one. 

Nolan once said, “I’ve always believed that if you want to really try and make a great film, not a good film, but a great film, you have to take a lot of risks.” And he has done exactly that.

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Tishya Doraiswamy, Content Writer @ Skyshot Media


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