"Nolan's Finest": All 11 Films Ranked from Worst to Best

Image credit: Legion-Media

Christopher Nolan is an iconic director.

11. Insomnia, 2002

Insomnia is a remake of a 1997 Norwegian film that critics widely praised on its release. To make his version, Nolan teamed up with Hillary Seitz. The film had a budget of $46 million and grossed a respectable $113 million at the box office. Al Pacino’s acting deserves a special mention as even the most hostile critics failed to find any flaws in the legendary actor’s performance. The plot revolves around two detectives investigating the murder of a girl in Alaska: the local police have failed to produce any leads, so big-shot detectives fly in from Los Angeles. However, getting to the truth proves exceptionally challenging even for Will Domer, the formidable expert brilliantly played by Pacino.

10. Following, 1998

The film was hailed as one of the most striking low-budget productions of its time, despite being Nolan's first-ever feature-length motion picture. Following is a neo-noir film, a genre that only a few directors can work in because of how challenging it can be to get the right balance of light and shadow. The film is about a young man who spies on strangers in the heart of Britain. As fate has it, he soon finds himself in the thick of criminal activity. Critics praised Nolan's debut, noting that only a handful of newcomers could have pulled off such a challenging project on a shoestring budget of just $6,000. Following was the first film in which Nolan experimented with non-linear storytelling, which has since become his trademark.

9. Tenet, 2020

As of this writing, Tenet is Nolan's most recent film. The protagonist must learn to control time to prevent humanity from going extinct. Tenet was one of the most eagerly anticipated Nolan films among his fans, and on top of that, it also ended up being the first Hollywood blockbuster to be released during the pandemic, but after the restrictions had been lifted. Despite problems with logistics and the organization of premiers and press screenings, Tenet made it to the top five highest-grossing films of 2020.

8. Dunkirk, 2017

With this project, Nolan decided to make a film about a historical event: the evacuation of British, French, and Belgian troops after the Battle of Dunkirk. And once again, the maestro managed to create a film with such impeccable pacing and visuals that both critics and cult directors also heaped praise on it. Dunkirk also uses Nolan's trademark non-linear storytelling device: it has three timelines.

7. Interstellar, 2014

This monumental science fiction effort from Nolan goes all out on visuals. It's a story about a team of explorers that get sent on a mission through a wormhole to a remote corner of the universe to find a planet that will be suitable for humans to migrate to as Earth is dying.

On this project, Christopher Nolan once again cooperated with his brother Jonathan who drew inspiration from the works of Kip Thorne. Interstellar was universally loved by critics and audiences and is consistently ranked among the best films of all time.

6. Memento, 2000

This entry is a hard-boiled mystery that Christopher Nolan made after he had already made a name for himself in Hollywood with other productions. The story Memento is based on was penned by the director's brother Jonathan Nolan who had studied psychology in college and was very much impressed by lectures on anterograde amnesia. Jonathan never became a doctor, but he wrote a story about a man suffering from the condition. Christopher liked his brother's story so much that he adapted it for the big screen, and the world got Memento. Guy Pearce was cast as the protagonist Leonard Shelby, who's looking for the murderer of his wife. His search is incredibly challenging because he has anterograde amnesia, i.e. his brain can't form new memories.

5. The Prestige, 2006

This psychological thriller was another collaboration between the Nolan brothers. It's a story about two magicians whose constant attempts to outdo each other go too far and end in tragedy. Nolan cast his favourite actors, Christian Bale and Michael Caine, with Wally Pfister as director of photography, a staple in several Nolan productions by this time. And the best thing is you don't have to be a die-hard Nolan fan to enjoy this film: the plot has plenty of twists to keep anyone on the edge of their seat.

2-4. The Dark Knight Trilogy, 2005—2012

The Dark Knight trilogy is the first thing that comes to mind when an average movie-goer hears the name, Christopher Nolan. Not only did Nolan overhaul how the iconic comic book character is depicted, but he also succeeded in keeping the depressing mood of the original story, which was something DC Films producers demanded from Nolan. The Dark Knight trilogy is the origin story of Batman. The three films tell us about Bruce Wayne, a millionaire who dons the Batman cap at night to go out and save people in his hometown of Gotham. The movies are a must as they offer ideal weekend binging material for anyone who's ever picked up a DC graphic novel.

1. Inception, 2010

The title, Inception, means the beginning or the origin. Between the easy way and the hard way, Nolan once again chose the hard way and tackled the rather challenging topic of lucid dreams head-on. At first glance, Inception may come across as a movie about a robbery, but Nolan turns it into a multi-layered psychological thriller about a talented thief who uses lucid dreaming to steal information from his marks. The science fiction component in the movie is the technique the main characters use to access other people's dreams. Inception is one of Nolan's most notable productions. It won four Oscars in 2011 and is a film you must see before you die!