Let’s rank all of the Christopher Nolan movies

Christopher Nolan, the director whose films include Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and Interstellar, started out making movies with just $6,000.

Today he is known for his blockbuster movies that generate millions at the box office.

Christopher Nolan is famous for his brilliant, tight, realistic cinematography and meticulous, original, mind-bending scripts.

Most of his movies should be rewatched to really understand them; he uses complex plots and innovative camera techniques to keep audiences interested.

If you’re a film director or aspiring to be one, I think you should watch Nolan’s movies because they are among the few films which are able to tell a good narrative.

As an admirer of Nolan’s films, I am going to share my opinion about his 11 films and rank them based on my own personal taste.

My personal ranking of the Christopher Nolan directed movies

11. “Following” (1998)

following a film by christopher nolan
Following – First movie directed by Christopher Nolan

“Following”, Christopher Nolan’s first feature movie, Nolan became an internationally known director and screenwriter.

The film is about a man named Bill, a young writer, who is trying to write his first book. He gets his inspiration by following strangers around London.

This leads him to start breaking into people’s homes and therefore committing crimes.

With only 6000 dollars, an amateur camera and lighting, and 16-millimeter film stock, Nolan was able to shoot “Following”.

Nolan started out as an enthusiastic young man who was full of ideas.

Because this movie was made by someone who was born talented at making movies, you can clearly tell how realistic he is when he makes his films, even though they’re shot on a small budget.

The plot in this one is not quite as confusing as some of Nolan’s earlier movies, but we can see the satisfying plot twists, manipulative characters (including one who has an interesting backstory), profound human psychological themes, and narrative backdrops that he would develop into his later movies.

Extreme close-up shots, non-linear storylines, and cross-cutting sequences are some of the difficult cinematic techniques used in the movie. He did an excellent job at performing these even back then.

10. “Insomnia” (2002)

insomnia movie by christopher nolan
Insomnia movie poster – Directed by Christopher Nolan

“Insomnia” is based upon a 1997 Norwegian crime thriller where a weak police officer accidentally murders his colleague and then attempts to cover it up.

The antagonists and protagonists have a close, personal relationship, and their story twists and turn throughout.

Insomnia is one of the best crime movies ever made, because of Nolan’s tight directing and a great cast (including Al Pacino and Robin Williams).

On the other hand, since nothing really happens, the film may become dull.

Working within a studio environment with sizeable film industry funding, Nolan showed his knowledge of the balance between a high-quality, expensive project compared to a low-cost, modestly financed project when he spent some time working independently.

9. “The Dark Knight Rises” (2012)

the dark knight rises christopher nolan
The Dark Knight Rises movie poster – Directed by Christopher Nolan

Even though the third installment of the Batman franchise doesn’t get the same amount of attention from fans as the first two films starring Heath Ledger as The Joker, it doesn’t disappoint.

After abandoning his role as Batman for eight long, dark, and lonely years, Bruce Wayne returns to Gotham City to save it from the evil Bane.

Because the motivations behind Batman’s enemy aren’t fully disclosed, there are some parts where the plot can be difficult sometimes to follow.

Amongst the factors contributing to the movie’s success are the actors’ good performances.

The most memorable part of the movie for me was Tom Hardy’s performance as Bane.

With Bane’s statement, Nolan once again made his audience think about their life choices.

“Peace has cost you your power.”

You have been defeated by victory.”

Because Hans Zimmer’s musical score really adds drama and horror to the movie, the film becomes even more terrifying than before.

8. “Batman Begins” (2005)

batman begins a christopher nolan movie
Batman Begins movie poster – Directed by Christopher Nolan

Some people were skeptical about Nolan’s ability to direct a superhero film.

However, Batman has both magical and technological powers as well as real-life traits like ambitions, loss over the death of his loved ones, and a desire for justice. He is the perfect character for Nolan to reimagine him.

Batman Begins isn’t just a superhero movie with caped crusaders, secret identities, and nonstop action; it’s an epic story worthy of the spotlight.

It also focuses on Batman’s orphanage traumas, his psychiatric disorders, his altered personality, and his transformation into the Dark Knight.

Nolan didn’t present Batman as an extraordinary individual who was so different from others that people could never understand him; instead, he portrayed him as just another person — someone with flaws and feelings – who wanted to help people to save Gotham City.

Even though the movie has some well-made sequences, it lacks an emotional charge at the end that would be common for a thriller.

7. “Tenet” (2020)

tenet christopher nolan movie
Tenet movie poster – Directed by Christopher Nolan

Nobody could have predicted that Nolan would continue the dreamy story he started with “Inception” so far after its masterful release.

But after watching “Tenet” I now believe there are no more limits.

A CIA agent (the protagonist) is trying to stop the end of the world.

He is given a secret code that can help him resolve any issue: Tenet.

It’s hard to understand the whole “inversion” concept, and the vehicle chase scenes make things even harder to follow.

Despite its exciting and breathtaking moments, the movie has some annoying flaws. One of them is that the dialogue sometimes is hard to understand because of the soundtrack.

The mix of Ludwig Göransson’s deliberate complicated sound mix makes some of the speech difficult to understand.

6. “Dunkirk” (2017)

dunkirk christopher nolan movie
Dunkirk movie poster – A movie by Christopher Nolan

“Dunkirk“ is director Christopher Nolan‘s first film based on a historical event.

One of the most common plots for blockbuster war movies involves a group of soldiers facing an impossible challenge and overcoming it together.

It wasn’t the case for Nolan. To be expected.

It shows British and French soldiers stranded on the beaches of Dunkirk in an attempt to escape from the Nazi German troops at the end of World War II.

However, unlike in his previous feature movies, he didn’t go into the backstory narration, such as why there was a war and what happens during the Dunkirk evacuation.

He instead focused on the 400,000 troops who fought for their lives during World War II while stuck in Dunkirk.

He relates the story of three groups of military personnel: air troopers, marines, and regular troops.

Some people thought the film was pointless because it had little dialogue and featured the clichés of war films such as explaining military tactics.

However, I appreciated what Nolan did in Dunkirk by realistically visualizing the tensions of the battlefield and focusing on the emotional state of the troops.

Dunkirk is one of the best war films ever made, thanks to its incredible visuals and a suspenseful soundtrack by Hans Zimmer and Richard King.

5. “Memento” (2000)

memento christopher nolan movie
Memento movie poster – A movie by Christopher Nolan

After the success of “Following,” Nolan was given a larger production team and made “Memento,” a full-fledged film noir that people could not stop talking about in the early 2000s.

The movie tells the story of Leonard, a man with short-term memory loss who sets out to seek revenge against his wife’s rapist and killer.

Since he knows that he forgets things, he has tattoos on his body that remind him of the events that take place.

Unexpectedly, the story is told backward.

The story, which was gloomy and depressing, was originally written by Nolan’s younger sibling, Jonathan Nolan, who often collaborated with him during their careers.

Despite the lack of experience, Nolan has already shown us his trademark skills: an appealing protagonist, a non-traditional narrative structure, and a detailed story.

Memento is one of Nolan’s most successful movies because of its cinematography, music, plot, and examination of the main character’s thoughts throughout the entire film.

We’re impressed by Nolan’s artistic ability even more now.

4. “The Dark Knight” (2008)

the dark knight christopher nolan movie
The Dark Knight movie poster – A movie directed by Christopher Nolan

The first film of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy was an absolute triumph. However, the second film is his true masterwork.

The bank robbery scene sets the stage for the entire movie, including the events that transpire after the robbery.

Among the greatest screen portrayals of all time, Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker was one of his most memorable roles.

If he hadn’t died so young, Heath Ledger would have made a name for himself in Hollywood after his exceptional work as the Joker.

Like his previous blockbuster hit, “Batman Begins,” the “Dark Knight” doesn’t just feature superheroes fighting crime; Nolan takes on major philosophical and political questions head-on.

The movie explores the idea of gray morality, where each side has its own moral code, and neither one is clearly better than the other.

3. “The Prestige” (2006)

the prestige christopher nolan movie
The Prestige movie poster – A movie by Christopher Nolan

Nolan takes us back to early 20th-Century London and introduces us to two characters locked in a lifelong struggle for power, jealousy, and obsession: Hugh Jackman’s character and Christian Bale’s character.

The Nolans followed an interesting path to pursue their dreams by adapting a book from 1995 into a script, and they did a remarkable job.

Similar to many Nolan movies, the movie goes deeper into the psychological journey of the protagonists while they’re fighting.

It has many twists and hidden clues, and its plot beautifully harmonizes with the lives of magicians. People love it for that reason.

The story takes place in a fractured narrative structure. It’s a stunning piece of art.

2. “Interstellar” (2014)

interstellar christopher nolan movie
Image from Interstellar – A movie by Christopher Nolan

Only Nolan could come up with a new story concept about the psychological and interpersonal impacts of traveling through a wormhole.

Interstellar is unlike any other sci-fi movie about outer-galactic travel and alien encounters.

Instead, the movie focuses on the characters’ mental states after they’ve left their families behind to search for a new place to live in outer space.

Interstellar presents a view of space as a lonely, empty, and dangerous environment which contrasts with traditional depictions of space as a mysterious and exciting destination filled with adventure.

One of the most memorable moments comes on the water planet Miller when Hans Zimmer’s great music plays in the background and has a loud ticking sound every one and a half seconds that lasts for an entire 24-hour period on Earth.

However, when comparing it to other Nolan films, this one is overly drawn out, slow, explanatory, and a bit boring for some people.

Even the excellent performances of Matthew McConaughy, Anne Hathaway, and Michael Caine cannot overcome the film’s slow pacing.

1. “Inception” (2010)

inception christopher nolan movie
Inception movie poster – A movie directed by Christopher Nolan

A dream within a dream within a dream.

The most famous and mind-boggling Nolan movie is about manipulating a person’s dreams.

Leonardo DiCaprio plays a thief who specializes in stealing secrets from people’s subconscious brains, and he has been accused of implan­ting an idea into someone’s brain.

Planting thoughts is not easy. They need to get deep inside our fantasies and push our minds to their limit.

The plot is brilliant, and for this reason alone, I’d recommend watching it.

The screenplay is good, but the camerawork is beautiful, making it feel even more confusing.

It was ahead of its time, with its complicated storyline and an interesting story arc, and the conversation continues even today.