It’s finally the weekend Outposters, so let’s kick it off with a long overdue Top 10. With Cillian Murphy and Margot Robbie still riding high after Barbenheimer and their recent Actors On Actors sit-down thing, I thought the time would be right for a Christopher Nolan spectacular!
Nolan seems to polarize fans. Some adore his work, others find it pretentious and there is little middle ground. I think Nolan and one other, Denis Villeneuve, are in a league of their own right now. I’m struggling to think of any other director working today who even comes close to these two.
Everything Chris and Den deliver is apex cinema. From the subject matter they take on, to their choice of actors, the script, cinematography, music score, locations, everything is considered down to the minutest detail. Equally important is their knowledge of their craft and the fact they both prefer practical solutions to cinema rather than rushing for CGI. And the CGI they do use is so expertly done, that it’s difficult to tell when it’s been used (except for Dune for obvious reasons).
Anyway, let’s get on with it. As always, these are my personal favourites and I don’t expect everyone to have the same pecking order. I’d love to know your rankings, so let me have it in the comments. Here goes:
Yes I know, the darling of Christopher Nolan movies for many. Personally, I watched it, thought it was OK, didn’t really get what all the fuss was about, and never felt the urge to revisit it.
God Damn it, Nolan! This has all the makings to be great but it’s just so overly complicated. And it doesn’t help that we have John David Washington as the main lead, a man who has as much onscreen charisma and presence as an aubergine.
I get the story, and I get the principles of how time travel works in the Tenet world but my goodness it’s hard work. The movie has everything that is synonymous with Christopher Nolan films, it’s stylish and original and the way things are shot to work backward is genius, but damn!
I wouldn’t say it’s a bad movie and maybe it will get better with age, but as of right now, I have watched it three times, and each time I’m left scratching my head. Perhaps the fourth time is the charm when everything clicks?
The movie that started this list. First off, I’ve only seen this at IMAX (review here) and need to revisit it and I’m thinking that once I see it for a second time, Oppenheimer will move up my rankings. For now, though, it sits pretty at number 8 based on what I recently remember.
It goes without saying that Oppenheimer is easily one of the best-crafted movies released this year. A lesser director tasked with making a film about the A-Bomb wouldn’t have been able to resist showing you the Enola Gay being loaded up and heading to Hiroshima and ultimately dropping the bomb. Nor would they have been able to resist the urge to show you Japanese people melting.
It is a testament to Nolan’s confidence and his skill as a filmmaker that he chose to show this movie through the eyes of politicians and the damn-or-be-damned moral dilemmas of all involved. A difficult subject matter that was handled with grace.
7. The Dark Knight Rises
The final chapter in The Dark Knight trilogy, which up until this point hadn’t really put a foot wrong. The Dark Knight Rises is still a fantastic romp and better than 99% of other superhero movies out there, and that was before Marvel decided to kill their own brand. But compared to Batman Begins and The Dark Knight (the second greatest superhero movie ever made) this is the weaker of the three.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it until I’m blue in the face, filming the final act and showing Batman in daylight is this movie’s downfall. Batman is a creature of the night and to see him on a bright snowy day makes him look fucking ridiculous. Film the last act at night, and this film gains some serious bonus points!
6. Batman Begins
Possibly the movie that put Nolan on the main stage. After Joel Schumacher’s Batman And Robin took the caped crusader all the way back to the campy 1960s Adam West era, and as a result, undid all of Tim Burton’s hard work of making Batman dangerous and serious again. I remember when Batman Begins was announced, it was met with little enthusiasm. Oh how wrong we were!
As Richard Donner had done with Christopher Reeve in Superman The Movie, Nolan surrounded the main star with a plethora of established and serious actors and actresses. And right off the bat (no pun intended) we could see that this version of Batman was indeed to be taken seriously.
In just one movie, Nolan’s Batman Begins was so cleverly done, so unique in its approach to putting these characters in a real and relatable world, that not only did it erase Joel’s abominations from the public consciousness, but it made Burton’s Batman also look a bit cartoony too. Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy are arguably the greatest superhero movies ever put on film.
5. The Prestige
I wasn’t that interested in The Prestige when it first came out. I don’t care for magic tricks or illusions and I thought it all sounded a bit fruity. However it was a year after Batman Begins and was pretty much Batman vs Wolverine, so I thought, why the hell not?
Oh wow, what a movie! I think we’ve all seen this movie by now so I’m just going to come out and say it – the twist is one of the best I’ve ever seen. I have a good track record with predicting when a twist in a movie is involved but this one completely caught me off guard. And you know what, even though you know it’s there, this film’s re-watchability is extraordinary.
Alright calm down Outposters, I know some of you are probably spitting feathers at having Dunkirk so far up the list but this movie shows Great Britain and our patriots in one of our history’s most brilliant moments. This movie tugs on my English heartstrings and I border on standing to attention for its entire duration. As we British say, this movie is absolutely spiffing old chap.
I’m running out of things to say about this movie. Interstellar might go down in history as Christopher Nolan’s magnum opus. A movie that tackles space and time travel which is based on real science rather than a magical machine of sorts.
Gorgeous to look at from start to finish with a score by Hans Zimmer that is equal to the visuals on screen. The movie has a message about “climate change” that isn’t hysterical or preachy and genuinely shows you what life could be like if climate change was real. This movie will go down in history as one of the finest movies ever made.
I adore this movie. I’ve always been fascinated with the idea that the world we live in is some kind of simulation or a dream. I’ve even considered the notion that I am dying in the “real world” and what I’m currently experiencing right now is nothing more than my life flashing before my eyes. Is the real me currently surrounded by loved ones come to say their goodbyes, in what to them are my final minutes, but to me a lifetime?
Anyway, fuck it, I digress. I love the concept of Inception, I find it exciting but also terrifying. Nolan takes on a concept that has been explored before but makes it his own to give us something unique and brilliant from start to finish.
This ranks higher than Interstellar because Inception has a great conclusive ending. Interstellar left me wanting a bit more, I wanted to see Cooper, Marv and his extended family interact. I felt like it was “Hi Marv, shit you’re old and you smell of piss. Oh, these are all my grandkids and great-grandkids eh? Nice. Anyway, I’ve gotta go and save Catwoman.”
Yes, I’m being facetious, especially how I’ve just been waxing lyrical about Interstellar, but that’s the best way I can describe why Inception tops it for me. Inception has the complete start, middle, and end and like a good steak and a glass of red, always leaves me satisfied.
1. The Dark Knight
As I’ve said before, The Dark Knight is the second-greatest superhero ever made. Calling it a superhero movie is doing it an injustice.
This movie is everything Marvel wished they were. The closest they got was The Winter Soldier, which as irony would have it, is often regarded as one of the best MCU movies out there. This amuses me greatly considering the Marvel fan’s continued disdain for anything with a DC label attached to it.
Incredibly, The Dark Knight is almost 16 years old, it hasn’t aged a day and nothing has come close since to replicating its brilliance in the superhero genre. For me, Superman The Movie is the gold standard for superhero movies. Yes, I am biased because of my age and the impact Superman has had on my life. But where it took 30 years for another superhero movie to replicate the sheer originality and brilliance of Donner’s Superman, I honestly think we’ll see anything like The Dark Night for at least another decade or more.
There you have it Outposters. My Top 10 Christopher Nolan movies. The one that didn’t make it was Insomnia and I watched that last week and thought it was a bit messy. If Nolan was to ever re-make it with the skillsets he’s acquired since then it could be something special. See you in the comments section.
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