The director of the digital generation: Ranking the films of Chris Nolan

Back when I was about 14 and got seriously into movies, I saw a film called “Memento” and it completely changed everything I thought I knew. From that point on, I knew anything made by a man named Christopher Nolan would be magical. I spent many years and many nights filming crappy quality films with my friends, very much atone to the ones he put on screen. By that, I mean, I threw in plot twists left and right with a Hans Zimmer score behind it like I knew what I was doing.

I firmly believe that Chris Nolan is the defining director of my generation. Like Tarantino before him, and Spielberg before that, he ups the ante and graces us with a certain style of film that we can’t pull away from. I could up to almost anybody my age and easily talk to them about his last few films. That being said, here are his movies ranked from worst to best. Enjoy.

10. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

"wah wahhh wahh wuhh woo wahh" - Bane. Photo from batman.wikia.

“Wah wahhh wahh wuhh woo wahh.” – Bane. Photo from batman.wikia.

I’m a pretty honest guy when it comes to this movie: I don’t like it. I was actually really irritated while watching it at its midnight showing. It was boring, overcrowded, filled with plot-holes and genuinely wasn’t a batman film (for chrissake, it took place during the daytime). Rumor has it that the studio rushed it into production to get Nolan’s bat-verse out of the way, and I hope that’s true. It’s not bad enough to put a damper on his reputation, but it’s the one I can’t see myself ever watching again.

9. Insomnia (2002)

Al Pacino sure looks sleepy. Photo from sharewallpapers.

For my money, this was one of Robin’s best performances. Photo from sharewallpapers.

One of Nolan’s more mediocre films is also the only one he didn’t write. It’s a movie about a detective hunting a killer in Alaska who can’t sleep because there’s too much damn sunlight. He does the best with what he has, but the story falls a little flat against its mundane, Alaskan landscape. However, it does boast some great performances from both Robin Williams and Al Pacino.

8. Batman Begins (2005)

Qui-Gon Jinn sure came a long way from his days as a jedi. Photo from RandomIndependent.

Liam Neeson schools Christian Bale on sword fighting. Photo from RandomIndependent.

Before the Joker hit the big screen, Nolan took a gamble and made his way into the superhero genre with the first in a new series of bat-films. Although it has some writing issues and tends to falter a bit with its romantic storyline and some ever-cheesy bat-dialogue, “Batman Begins” is a flick worthy of the name. The film’s opening hour, telling the story of Bruce Wayne from child to assassin to prodigal son, is still one of the best origin tales to hit the screen.

7. Doodlebug (1997)

Oh, Chris. You so clever. Photo from WhatCulture.

Oh, Chris. You so clever. Photo from WhatCulture.

“Doodlebug” is Christopher Nolan’s first film, and a short one at that. Rather than spoiling it for you and telling you why it’s awesome, you can watch it here if you have three minutes to spare.

6. Inception (2010)

Fun fact: they actually put leo in a room and sprayed it with hoses to film this. Photo from Arch Daily.

Fun fact: They actually put Leo in a room and sprayed it with hoses to film this. Photo from Arch Daily.

When this movie came out, and I couldn’t see it on opening night because my family was on vacation, I cried. I actually wept. I’m not ashamed to admit that. And yes, those tears were worth it. “Inception,” Nolan’s first completely original work since “Following,” was one of the biggest movies in the world. Earning Nolan two Oscar nominations and forever responsible for introducing those “BWAHHHHHS” into movie trailers; it was everywhere. Gladly, it still holds up today as an original and entertaining thriller.

5. Following (1998)

For a low-budget film, this one has some KILLER shots in it. Just like this one. Photo from Blogspot.

For a low-budget film, this one has some KILLER shots in it. Just like this one. Photo from Blogspot.

In 1998, Nolan made a small movie about a bored writer who follows people for fun, until one of them finally notices. Lucky for us, he doesn’t need a huge budget to make a brilliant film. This one truly is a testament to Nolan’s abilities as a storyteller. Small, claustrophobic and twisty as hell, “Following” is still as much fun to watch as any of his movies.

4. Interstellar (2014)

"Where's my Lincoln?" - Matthew McConaughey. Photo from Fanboy Confidential

“Where’s my Lincoln?” – Matthew McConaughey. Photo from Fanboy Confidential

I wasn’t sure where to put this one. Time will tell if it rises or falls, but as of right now it deserves a spot near the top. It’s easily Nolan’s most ambitious film and certainly a different one for him. It’s a treat to look at, a space odyssey for a new age, but above all else, “Interstellar” is a love story about a man and his daughter. It was so refreshing to see an actor in one of his movies actually OWN the humanity of the role, and Matthew McConaughey did just that. The film will dazzle you, make you cry, make your jaw drop and have you on the edge of your seat until the final moments. It’s one for the history books.

3. Memento (2000)

Guy Pearce: tattoo connoisseur. Photo from Word Press.

Guy Pearce: Tattoo connoisseur. Photo from Word Press.

Nolan’s first big feature is also one of his best, and completely encapsulates everything he is as a filmmaker. Based off the short story by his brother and frequent collaborator Jonathan Nolan, “Memento” is about a man who can’t remember anything, but is trying to find the man who murdered his wife. Oh, and it’s told backwards. Led by a KILLER Guy Pearce, it’s a trip fest with one of the most rewarding finales in all of Nolan’s canon.

2. The Prestige (2006)

Huge Jacked Man doing what he does best: owning things. Photo from Film Grab.

Hugh Jackman asking you to watch closely. Photo from Film Grab.

Ask yourself, were you watching closely? You had to have been. You couldn’t look away. Nolan had established himself as a master of the twist and non-linear storytelling, but with this one he took it to a whole new level. An epic tale of two rival magicians going to dangerous new levels just to best one another. With Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale at the center, it screams of an age and lifestyle we haven’t ever truly seen before, and begs to be watched again and again.

1. The Dark Knight (2008)

One of the greatest shots in the history of film. Photo from The Film Stage.

One of the greatest shots in the history of film. Photo from The Film Stage.

Could it really be anything else? In 2008, Nolan changed the game with this sprawling, gritty crime masterpiece. I remember begging my parents to take me to rent it and yelling at me for watching it at full volume in my basement. At its core, it’s a story about cops and robbers. Fused with the energy of a superhero film, grounded in the reality of Gotham City, it made people think twice before overlooking a superhero movie. Highlighted by Nolan’s masterful use of practical effects, Hans Zimmer’s unforgettable score and Heath Ledger’s legendary performance, it’s forever going to be remembered as one of the greatest films of all time. I stand by that statement.

What do you think? Agree or disagree with what I’ve said? Sound off on twitter @speakeasymag or in the comments below!

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