Top 12 Christopher Nolan Movies: A Ranking of the Master Filmmaker’s Works

Christopher Nolan Movies: A British-American writer, director and producer known for making films with intriguing stories and fresh ideas. His first film, the neo-noir crime film Following (1998), attracted attention at the 1999 Slamdance Film Festival. The next year, his second film, Memento (2000), which became a cult favorite, made its debut at Sundance.

He received greater respect for directing the Dark Knight series and pushing the boundaries of filmmaking with The Prestige (2006), Inception (2010), Interstellar (2014), and Tenet (2020), all based on real science fiction. He has also written two great books about World War II: Dunkirk (2017) and the highly anticipated Oppenheimer (2023). Overall, Nolan’s films have garnered much acclaim, including 11 Oscars and 36 nominations. Here we list down the top 12 Christopher Nolan movies that you must watch.

Top 12 Christopher Nolan Movies

12. Following (1998)

Top 12 Christopher Nolan Movies
Top 12 Christopher Nolan Movies

Nolan’s debut feature film is a black-and-white neo-noir that follows a young writer who becomes obsessed with following strangers around London. He meets a charismatic thief who introduces him to the world of crime and deception. The film is a clever and stylish exercise in storytelling, as it uses a nonlinear narrative and multiple perspectives to create suspense and mystery. The film was made on a shoestring budget of $6,000 and shot on weekends over a year. It showcases Nolan’s talent for creating engaging characters and twisting plots with minimal resources.

Where To Watch Following (1998): Prime Video

11. Insomnia (2002)

Top 12 Christopher Nolan Movies
Top 12 Christopher Nolan Movies

Nolan’s first Hollywood film is a remake of a Norwegian thriller that stars Al Pacino as a veteran detective who is sent to Alaska to investigate the murder of a teenage girl. He accidentally shoots his partner and tries to cover it up while under the extortion pressure of the murderer (Robin Williams), who was present. He also suffers from insomnia due to the constant daylight in the region.

The film is a tense and atmospheric psychological drama that explores the themes of guilt, morality, and corruption. It features excellent performances by Pacino and Williams, who play against their usual types. It also shows Nolan’s skill in handling a studio project with a bigger budget and star power.

Where To Watch Insomnia (2002): Prime Video

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10. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Top 12 Christopher Nolan Movies
Top 12 Christopher Nolan Movies

The final installment of Nolan’s Batman trilogy is an ambitious and epic conclusion that pits the Caped Crusader against Bane, a ruthless terrorist who plans to destroy Gotham City with a nuclear bomb. Batman also has to deal with Catwoman, a mysterious thief who has her own agenda, and John Blake, a young cop who admires him.

The film is a sprawling and spectacular spectacle that delivers thrilling action sequences, such as the plane hijacking, the stadium explosion, and the Batpod chase. It also has some emotional moments that wrap up the character arcs of Bruce Wayne, Alfred, and Gordon. However, the film also suffers from some flaws, such as a convoluted plot, weak villain motivation, and some logical inconsistencies. It is not as tight and focused as its predecessor, but it is still a satisfying and impressive finale.

Where To Watch The Dark Knight Rises (2012): Prime Video

9. Tenet (2020)

Top 12 Christopher Nolan Movies
Top 12 Christopher Nolan Movies

Nolan’s latest film is a mind-bending sci-fi spy thriller that revolves around a secret organization that uses time-inversion technology to prevent World War III. The protagonist (John David Washington) teams up with Neil (Robert Pattinson) to stop Andrei Sator (Kenneth Branagh), a Russian oligarch who wants to end the world.

The film is a dazzling and daring spectacle that showcases Nolan’s mastery of visual effects, cinematography, and sound design. The film features some of the most stunning and inventive action scenes ever filmed, such as the reverse car chase, the plane crash, and the temporal pincer movement.

The film also has some intriguing concepts and themes about fate, free will, and entropy. However, the film also has some drawbacks, such as a confusing and complicated plot, a lack of character development, and incomprehensible dialogue. It is not an easy or accessible film to watch, but it is rewarding and exhilarating for those who are willing to embrace its challenge.

Where To Watch Tenet (2020): Prime Video

8. Batman Begins (2005)

Top 12 Christopher Nolan Movies
Top 12 Christopher Nolan Movies

The first installment of Nolan’s Batman trilogy is a reboot of the iconic superhero franchise that tells the origin story of Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), who becomes Batman after witnessing his parents’ murder and training with the League of Shadows.

He returns to Gotham City to fight crime and corruption while facing his first nemesis: Ra’s al Ghul (Liam Neeson), his former mentor who wants to destroy the city with a fear toxin. The film is a dark and realistic reinvention of the comic book mythos that grounds Batman in a plausible and gritty world.

It also features a stellar cast that includes Michael Caine as Alfred, Gary Oldman as Gordon, Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes, Cillian Murphy as Scarecrow, and Tom Wilkinson as Carmine Falcone. The film is a solid and smart introduction to Nolan’s vision of Batman that sets up the tone and themes for the rest of the trilogy.

Where To Watch Batman Begins (2005): Netflix

7. Interstellar (2014)

Top 12 Christopher Nolan Movies
Top 12 Christopher Nolan Movies

Nolan’s most ambitious and personal film is a sci-fi epic that follows a group of astronauts who travel through a wormhole to find a new home for humanity as Earth is dying due to climate change and crop failures. The film is a stunning journey that explores the wonders and dangers of space, time, and gravity.

The film features some of the most breathtaking visuals ever seen on screen, such as the wormhole, the black hole, the water planet, and the tesseract. The film also has a powerful and emotional story that deals with the themes of love, sacrifice, and survival. The film has a great cast that includes Matthew McConaughey as Cooper, Anne Hathaway as Brand, Jessica Chastain as Murph, Michael Caine as Professor Brand, and Matt Damon as Mann. The film also has a magnificent score by Hans Zimmer that enhances the mood and impact of the film.

However, the film also has some flaws, such as a complex and confusing plot, heavy-handed exposition, and a sentimental ending. It is not a perfect film, but it is a passionate and profound one that shows Nolan’s ambition and vision.

Where To Watch Interstellar (2014): Prime Video

6. The Dark Knight (2008)

Top 12 Christopher Nolan Movies
Top 12 Christopher Nolan Movies

The second installment of Nolan’s Batman trilogy is widely regarded as one of the best superhero films of all time. It is a dark and gritty crime saga that pits Batman against the Joker (Heath Ledger), a psychotic and anarchic clown who unleashes chaos and terror in Gotham City.

Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), a district attorney who suffers a facial disfigurement as a result of the Joker’s attack, is another issue that Batman must deal with. The film is a masterpiece of filmmaking that delivers an intense and thrilling story, a brilliant and memorable performance by Ledger, who won an Oscar for his role, stunning and realistic cinematography by Wally Pfister, who also won an Oscar for his work and a haunting and epic score by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard.

The film also raises some important and relevant questions about justice, morality, and heroism. The film is a flawless and phenomenal achievement that transcends the genre and becomes a classic.

Where To Watch The Dark Knight (2008): Prime Video

5. Inception (2010)

Top 12 Christopher Nolan Movies
Top 12 Christopher Nolan Movies

Nolan’s most popular and acclaimed film is a sci-fi heist thriller that follows a team of dream thieves who are hired to plant an idea into the mind of a corporate heir (Cillian Murphy) by using a device that allows them to enter his subconscious. Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), who is the leader of the team, has a personal interest in the job because he wants to see his kids again after being accused of killing his wife, Mal (Marion Cotillard). The film is a masterpiece of storytelling that combines an intricate and ingenious plot, an engaging and charismatic cast, an amazing and inventive production design, and exciting action.

The film features some of the most iconic and unforgettable scenes in cinema history, such as the zero-gravity fight in the hotel corridor, the folding city in Paris, the snow fortress in the mountains, and the spinning top in the final shot. The film also has a deep and emotional core that explores the themes of memory, guilt, regret, and redemption. The film is a perfect example of Nolan’s creativity and originality, which captivate and challenge the audience.

Where To Watch Inception (2010): Netflix

4. Oppenheimer (2023)

Top 12 Christopher Nolan Movies
Top 12 Christopher Nolan Movies

Nolan’s latest film is a biographical drama that tells the story of J. Robert Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy), the physicist who led the Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb during World War II. The film is an engrossing and enlightening portrait of one of the most influential and controversial figures in history, who was hailed as “the father of the atomic bomb” but also condemned as “a destroyer of worlds”. The film shows Oppenheimer’s genius and vision, as well as his doubts and dilemmas, as he faces the moral and ethical implications of his creation.

The film also features an impressive cast that includes Emily Blunt as Kitty Oppenheimer, Robert Downey Jr. as Edward Teller, Matt Damon as Leslie Groves, Tom Hardy as Richard Feynman, Mark Rylance as Niels Bohr, Kenneth Branagh as Winston Churchill, Christian Bale as Albert Einstein, Michael Caine as Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Anne Hathaway as Lise Meitner. The film also has stunning visuals that recreate historical events and locations with accuracy and authenticity. The film is another remarkable achievement from Nolan that benefits from Murphy’s tour-de-force performance and Nolan’s vision.

3. Memento (2000)

Top 12 Christopher Nolan Movies
Top 12 Christopher Nolan Movies

Nolan’s first big hit was a neo-noir movie called Memento. It is about a man named Leonard (Guy Pearce) who suffers from short-term memory loss as a result of an attack by the person who killed his wife. Guy Pearce plays Leonard, who has a disease that makes it hard for him to remember new things for more than a few minutes at a time. Still, he wants to find out who killed his wife.

Nolan’s idea was to tell the story backward, creating a world where the killer we think we’re looking for is not the one we find. The resulting neo-noir combines black-and-white and color, which is kind of a Nolan thing and uses tattoos to show us a man who can’t get over the past that’s written on his skin. That twist at the end, or maybe the beginning, still gives me the creeps.

Where To Watch Memento (2000): Prime Video

2. The Prestige (2006)

Top 12 Christopher Nolan Movies
Top 12 Christopher Nolan Movies

The Prestige is the film that best highlights Christopher Nolan as a director. This reflects his overall philosophy regarding the art of storytelling, and its themes are prevalent in almost all of his films. Additionally, it is one of his best films to date.

Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale are at their best as dueling magicians in The Prestige. Jackman and Bale deliver stellar performances in this multi-layered portrait. Prestige has many ups and downs, but because it’s about wizards, it’s doable. The opening sequence, when Michael Caine describes the three keys to a successful magic trick—the pledge, The turn, and The prestige—sums up the film.

Nolan’s emotional masterpiece is The Prestige. Nolan brilliantly telegraphs their emotional motivations to keep viewers hooked on their stories. Nolan’s catchy flicks beat out The Prestige. It is one of Nolan’s strongest films in terms of integrating story, character, and emotion, and a decade later, it is still one of his most important.

Where To Watch The Prestige (2006): Prime Video

1. Dunkirk (2017)

Top 12 Christopher Nolan Movies
Top 12 Christopher Nolan Movies

 

Nolan’s first historical film, Dunkirk, is one of the best war movies ever made. It depicts one of the most dangerous and difficult times of World War II. In the spring of 1940, Allied soldiers were trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk while Nazi soldiers, using superior techniques and weapons, moved into France. All 400,000 Allied troops are waiting for ships to arrive and rescue them.

Most of the people were rescued safely because ordinary British people had given their boats to this work. Dunkirk shows this brave, scary battle admirably. Helped by the always great Hans Zimmer’s score and Richard King’s sound design, Dunkirk builds tension and dreads through eerie sound—or the lack thereof—that will haunt anyone willing to put themselves in their place. war-weary man.

Where To Watch Dunkirk (2017): Prime Video

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