Christopher Nolan is one such director, who is adored by fans and critics alike. He has helped change the face of Hollywood as we know it, and over the years delivered some of the movies the world has ever seen. Born and raised in London, Nolan was always interested in movies and anything related to them. After completing his education, Nolan realized that his interests would be best served in the field he loved the most, Filmmaking. Luckily for us, he stuck to his decision and is now one of the Best Directors in Hollywood today. With every film he directs, Nolan brings to the screen a mixture of Science, Fantasy and Mystery, all wrapped up in realism, with a logical explanation for everything. Nolan also brings a certain X-factor to all of his movies, that is very rarely seen in other directors in the Industry. Here is a list of five of his best movies:
5. Insomnia (2002)
Insomnia is one of the most haunting detective films of all time. Why? Because Detective Dormer is another flawed, Nolan-esque protagonist. He is compromised from the start, and the entire film gains a layer of constant logical suspense and drama. There are no super gadgets, fantasy elements, or space travel…just a really sleepy detective. Haunted by his deeds, but still has a killer to catch. There is a great personal relationship between the hero and villain (the late-great Robin Williams), and the lines blurred more than usual.
4. The Dark Knight (2008)
There is some truly clunky dialogue, as well as some pretty cringe inducing moments in The Dark Knight, and while I can’t be sure this was Nolan or Warner Brothers, we can’t ignore these really odd choices. Heath Ledger as The Joker may go down as one of the greatest performances of all time. And while Bob Kane crafted this timeless character, Christopher Nolan and Heath Ledger did an incredible job of bringing him to life. Christian Bale too gave us a great Batman. The Dark Knight has some truly unforgettable moments, and some of the best performances in a superhero film. The film is all about chaos and the battle, not between good and evil, but Nolan’s take on natural conflict. What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object, and how every action has an equal and opposite reaction.
3. Dunkirk (2017)
Dunkirk is one of the most authentic and suspenseful films ever crafted, and it puts the viewer inside the boots of the soldiers on Dunkirk beach. Nolan also uses his favorite cinematic device — cross cutting. The entire film’s structure was influenced by The Shepard Tone, which allows the film to continually rise in suspense throughout. The use of vintage aircraft, lighting, special effects, and lack of dialogue win the day. Tom Hardy gliding in his spitfire above, the notorious whine of the dive-bombing Stukas, the slow but inevitable blast of the beach bombing. The best part of this film is how Nolan took all of his past successes and combined them with a new effort. He could have done what many directors do, which is to avoid a new challenge and go back to familiar ground.
2. Memento (2000)
Memento changed cinema forever, and shaped Nolan’s storytelling style. The film took full advantage of the medium in a way we had never seen before, and in many respects still have yet to be capitalized upon. The combination of themes and various cinematic devices create an eerie and unforgettable film that forces you to question your own memories. And the best part is that, generally, it could happen to you. Leonard Shelby’s world is accessible, even if his condition is abstract. The way Nolan shot and cut the film together shows us the pinnacle of intentional filmmaking and non-linear story structure. There is something to be said about Nolan’s smaller films. They are often more grounded, because they have to be, and that really helps to make Nolan’s complex ideas a bit more palatable. Not to mention the structure of the film places us in a very similar situation to that of Leonard Shelby.
1. The Prestige (2006)
The Prestige is one of the great modern films, and has the best script of any Nolan film. Nolan found what worked so well with Memento and took that electricity a step further. His pacing improved as well. The theme is carefully intertwined with the subject matter, the world of magicians, the act of filmmaking, and Nolan’s personal style. Nolan’s found a story structure and subject matter that acts as a thematic metaphor for everything surrounding the film. As others have noted, this is a film about magicians, but is also itself, a magic trick. He built his story upon the structure of a magic trick, and then gave nods to that process as well as his own personal obsessions. The acting, cinematography, production design, costumes, story, editing — everything is top-notch. It also brings up important questions about life, death, careers, time, duplicity, magic, memory, and commitment.