Christopher Nolan is arguably the most critically acclaimed filmmaker on the planet. The director of the likes of Inception and Dunkirk has reached audiences young and old, casual and committed, with his unique blend of spectacle and philosophy being imparted on recognisable franchises like The Dark Knight Trilogy as well as original offerings of the thriller and blockbuster realm.
The filmmaker, of British and American heritage, has offered elements of filmmaking genius as wide ranging as Kubrick and Spielberg, Bergman and Kurosawa to develop an individualistic mix of old-school philosophies and modern sensibilities, making a name for himself as the only director in Hollywood who can guarantee a runaway financial success of the billion dollar category in the increasingly perilous waters outside of the franchise system. In many ways, Nolan has become a franchise in of himself, a filmmaker so recognisable that he’s given top billing in trailers and on posters, that he has become as synonymous with cinema as John Ford, Martin Scorsese and Alfred Hitchcock.
With over two decades of filmmaking experience, Christopher Nolan is still young relative to other directors with similar success, and therefore each release remains important to the director establishing himself as an author of the screen, his ideological approach of individualism and thematic ruminations on time each still in their relative infancy even within his prolific and reputable output.
In this edition of Ranked, we’re breaking down all of Christopher Nolan’s feature releases to rank the films of one of the world’s most recognisable directors from worst to best in terms of artistic merit, public perception and critical reception.
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10. Following (1998)
A feature debut made on a relatively shoestring budget was never going to make for the ultimate representation of Christopher Nolan’s vision of cinema, but Following (1998) offered an intriguing first glimpse of a filmmaker on the precipice of history, this characteristically mind-altering, Tarkovsky and Bergman inspired piece being an interesting and challenging start to a filmography that would go from strength to strength.
9. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
While The Dark Knight Rises provided a lot of fan service for followers of the Batman films and comic books, and was received positively as another entry into Nolan’s unique blockbuster catalogue, the 2012 film also marked the first time in Nolan’s career in which he began to be openly criticised for his reliability on ambiguous endings, this trilogy-concluding Dark Knight movie being less a misstep and more a warning shot as to what could happen if Nolan lost the motivation to adapt and evolve.
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