3. Dunkirk (2017)
Arguably the most characteristic movie in Christopher Nolan’s ever-growing repertoire, World War II thriller Dunkirk was a unique combination of the time-bending philosophical undertakings of the likes of Memento and Inception with more classic cinematic architecture perhaps best illustrated by Stanley Kubrick, this story told across three different timelines being perhaps the first post-modern war movie Hollywood would produce, paving the way for the Oscar-winning 1917 and earning Nolan a new crowd of older filmgoers while continuing to please his swathes of converts.
2. Interstellar (2014)
A philosophical undertaking unlike any that Nolan has worked on thus far, 2014 space-trotting sci-fi drama Interstellar is perhaps the most in touch with humanity that Nolan has been in his career, the director’s deep reaches into what makes us human bringing about an empathetic look at love and loss tied within Nolan’s now typically glossy aesthetic and thematic explorations of time. While controversial in some circles regarding the validity of its scientific foundations, Interstellar was a science fiction blockbuster movie unlike any other – a genuinely heart-wrenching release that uniquely searched beyond the technical splendor Nolan is so often motivated by.
1. The Dark Knight (2008)
In 2008 Christopher Nolan rewrote what it was to be considered a great comic book movie and thus became a worldwide celebrity, his perfect post-9/11 analogy of a threat that can’t be reasoned with being a zeitgeist capturing blockbuster of old-school visual effect techniques and immaculate characterisation that remains one of the most vital watches of the century and Nolan’s most emphatic imprint on the industry to date. Ledger’s performance is what grabs the attention, the actor earning a posthumous Oscar for his role in what is now seen as a moment of validation for so-called “mainstream” movies, but Nolan’s work in creating the space and focus for Ledger to excel is equally as extraordinary, the tonal blares of Nolan’s collaborator Hans Zimmer creating an atmosphere of total anarchy unlike anything we’ve seen before or since in the genre and rarely in any film over the past three or four decades.
Recommended for you: Live-Action Jokers Ranked
The Dark Knight is arguably not as characteristic of Nolan’s authorship as Dunkirk or Inception, but it is without a doubt a classic of the screen and is an incomparable filmography entry in terms of its impact to its genre and to wider studio filmmaking, earning its spot at the very top of this list.
This article was updated to include Tenet on 13th September 2020. Originally published 26th June 2020.
But what do you think? Would you have ordered things differently? Make sure to let us know in the comments, and while you’re there feel free to share this with your friends.