RANKING CHRISTOPHER NOLAN’S FILMS

 

So, my homeys over at Movie Mobsters posted a very interesting question on Facebook last week. Here it is:

Is Inception the best movie of the year and Christopher Nolan’s best film?

My answer to this was “yes” and “no”. Inception is by far the best film I’ve seen this year. Outside of animated films, it’s not even a close race. However, is it Nolan’s best work? I don’t think so. So, I’ve set out to do the near impossible and rank Christopher Nolan’s short but impressive filmography. As you know, Christopher Nolan was ranked #1 on my list of DIRECTORS THAT GET MY DOLLARS. The only filmmakers that come close in quality in recent years, in my opinion, again, are the fellas over there at Pixar. I love a challenging list so let’s do it. Here they are (in order):

8. DOODLEBUG.

This film comes in at #8 for 2 reasons. 1) It’s a short film. 2) I haven’t seen it. :)

7. FOLLOWING.

A fine little Black and White film and a great feature length debut but far from the calliber of Nolan’s other films.

6. IMSOMNIA.

Not even 2 big stars, Robin Williams and Al Pacino at a time when they were turning out solid work, could save this film. It’s shot nicely and I love the whole going crazy due to lack of sleep (or as I call it: 1997 to 2003) but this film is not one of Nolan’s best.

T-4. INCEPTION.

Definately a great film. Unfortunately, it’s one of Nolan’s and, in my opinion, is about as good as…

T-4. THE PRESTIGE.

This film is fantastic. I actuallly chose it as one of my underrated films on MILFcast but had to cut it because we ran long. I love this film and just feel like The Illusionist stole a bit of it’s thunder and kept it from getting the recognition I think it would have had if it had the chance to stand on it’s own.

3. THE DARK KNIGHT.

I’m not putting this 3rd for shock factor but I also didn’t start a blog and podcast to sit and agree with everyone. TDK is one of my favorite films… but if you take out the Heath Ledger factor, it’s easily Nolan’s 2nd best Batman effort.

2. MEMENTO.

Memento and Inception are equally as brilliant. However, I have to give Memento the edge for becoming popular before Nolan himself and doing it on a shoestring budget by comparison. This is Nolan’s best original idea and would be his best film had he not made…

1. BATMAN BEGINS.

This is the gold standard for comic book films and, in my opinion, the best entry into the sub-genre. The reason it stands apart is because of how well Nolan was able to ground the whole thing in a believable reality. Bruce Wayne’s motivation is explored much deeper than in other incarnations, his weapons and their inception (pun intended) becomes believable for reasons other than Wayne is a billionaire and can buy anything he wants and he even manages to make the Batmobile believable. Also features one of the greatest movie posters (above) of all time. A GREAT overall film that not even Katie Holmes could ruin and, again, in my opinion, Nolan’s best!

What do you guys think?

43 Responses to “RANKING CHRISTOPHER NOLAN’S FILMS”

  1. I agree with most of this…I’d replace Memento with Inception, because I’m not a fan of Memento…but that would put Inception above The Dark Knight, wouldn’t it? Can’t have that…

    • Yeah… this is a tough one. It comes down to which films you like best. However, I think Momento is much better than Inception… a repeat viewing could change that, I suppose.

  2. Yeah, I like the fact you’ve got Batman Begins at number 1. I’m still not sure which of the Batman films I prefer – love them both – but need to see them a few more times. But The Prestige is my fave, and I liked it more than The Illusionist.

    • I like everything you’re saying, Dan. Ultimately, TDK is a shinier pick because of Ledger but BB is a better film… in my opinion.

      • I’m going to put them in order and I’m going to agree with you on Batman Begins:

        6. Insomnia
        5. Memento
        4. The Dark Knight
        3. Inception
        2. Batman Begins
        1. The Prestige

  3. Ranking Nolan’s films was not as easy as I thought it would be, as every single one is terrific….I think you could have 10 different people come up with 10 different rankings. I’m glad to see Batman Begins ahead of The Dark Knight on your list though. Mine went something like this:

    1. Memento
    2. The Prestige
    3. Insomnia
    4. Inception
    5. Batman Begins
    6. The Dark Knight
    7. Following

    • Hey, Corey, welcome to the site. An interesting line-up. I like seeing the love for the Prestige but I LOVE Batman so that helps on placing them higher on my list.

  4. of the ones that I have seen…

    6. Insomnia
    5. The Dark Knight
    4. Batman Begins
    3. Momento
    2. Inception
    1. The Prestige

    … as I said in my Inception review I think that the non-Batman movies are much more fascinating and I think this has something to do with the Bat films’ tendency (more so The Dark Knight) to have a scene (or about twenty) where characters say ‘this film is about…’ plus, as you can probably tell from my rankings, I like puzzle films that need unpacking.

    Nice post and a great talking point.

    • Wow, this is a very pol,arizing post. I agree with what you’re saying regarding Batman but it is still done so well. I think The Prestige is my favorite original Nolan film as well but I do think Momento has a slight edge as a better film.

  5. No no no.

    Memento and Batman Begins are no way the ‘best’ two. Dark KNight is superior to Batman Begins, primarily because there is no ‘setting up’ of the character. Not to mention Gyllenhaal is better than Holmes.

    My argument with Memento is that Guy Pearce is, dare I say it, a little dull.

    Inception and Dark Knight would be the top two. Maybe its just me! ha ha!

    Simon

    • Yeah… that’s what Simon says… haha.
      As you can see from the posts above, nobody seems to agree on this. I agree about Gyllenhaal versus Holmes. I dunno, Simon, as a comic geek, BB just impressed me way more than TDK… it manages to be a great film even with uninteresting villains… well, less interesting villains. I really feel like Ledger gives TDK the fan boost as far as popularity but still think BB is a better film.
      And I’m not even going to argue Momento. I actually thought Pearce was kinda perfect in that film…. but that’s just me.

  6. Interesting list! Funny thing though, I haven’t felt much urge to participate in the Nolan love-fest that’s been going on around the blogosphere, even though he’s a director I really love.

    Perhaps it’s because the guy only has seven features under his belt and it feels a little early to be doing retrospectives (to be fair, I feel that way about a few other of my favorite directors like Michael Mann and David Fincher).

    BUT…since you brought it up, I think I’d like to nominate INCEPTION for the CARS “Why-Does-Everyone-Hate-It?” Award. I still say that it’s a solid film, and likewise a pretty decent remake. Part of me wonders if it gets smacked around because most people have only watched it once.

    • Ooh, well stated, Hatter. I’m not hating Inception (though I did kinda hate Cars)… if anything I feel like it’s a testimony to Nolan’s ability that Inception, which I thought was great, only came in 4th (in my opinion) on his filmography. Also, I had him listed as #1 months ago on my Directors That Get My Dollars… that also bodes well for him.
      I like the comparison to Mann and Fincher. You could lump Tarantino in there for that matter. However, I chose to do this list because it was difficult… again, a testimony to the man’s ability. I think 7 is a fair amount of films to look at. I did it to Pixar when I started the site and they only have 10. Which is more though not much more. I think as film fans we make these lists for directors instinctually… I just decided to post it! :)

    • I think Hatter meant Insomnia.

  7. Man, this is hard. #1 is the only one I’ve got down pat.

    1. Memento
    2. The Dark Knight
    3. The Prestige
    4. Inception
    5. Batman Begins
    6. Insomnia
    7. Following

    Shit, I feel really bad putting Insomnia so low because that’s a fucking awesome movie. Good list, man. Really hard to rank.

    • This is a tuff one… that’s why I did it. Turns out BB is a love it or hate it from people. I like seeing all the love for The Prestige… I feel like that film is really underrated. As far as Imsomnia, I didn’t love it as much as you but it doesn’t stand a chance either way in this filmography!

    • Aiden is really smart, so it’s no surprise that my list comes closest to his. ;) Doodlebug is the only one I’ve not seen as well, and Following is most definitely number 7 (that’s the only one that’s easy).

      I need to re-watch Prestige and Insomnia one of these days. Neither gripped me like they did others but I didn’t dislike them or anything. I’m willing to admit I’m wrong if they strike me more upon subsequent viewings.

      It’s too early to tell where Inception will like up for me. At this stage, it’s probably number 2 after Memento (Note: please stop calling it Momento; I don’t know why that bothers me so much, but it probably has something to do with seeing that directly under the movie’s poster, and besides, how much can you like a movie if you don’t know it’s name. Apologize for the anal retentiveness.)

      I’m a bit shocked to hear anyone put Begins over TDK. Not that TDK is sliced bread, necessarily (though it is), it just felt like it was on another level from Begins (and I love Begins).

      Yea, this is hard.

      • Really? I got confused with the Spanish film about moments called Momento. ha! My bad… my wife even proof read this for me… is fixed now.
        As far as The Prestige, I would give it another chance. It’s actually in my top 25 of all time. I think MEmento is a better film but I just LOVE The Prestige.
        For Inception, I’ll wait for DVD, but it and reevaluate then.

  8. 1. Inception
    2. Dark Knight
    3. Batman Begins
    4. Memento
    5. The Prestige
    6. Insomnia
    7. Following (but only because I haven’t seen it)

    In reality, the top four are tied for first, because they are all uniformly excellent. But, that’s just me.

  9. Batman Begins is definitely his best; a lot of people think it’s hokier than The Dark Knight (and rightfully so in some parts), but it had more of an original look/feel to it. TDK is amazing and everything, but it feels like they took a script from somewhere else and just put the Batman license on it.

    • I agree Jon. I’d even say that they teetered on Spiderman 3 territory by having too many villains. Well, each had too much story. BB had 2 villains but their arcs were more streamlined.

  10. I completely agree about Pixar and Nolan being the two most reliable directors out there. As for ranking them, Memento is my number one film of all time. I prefer Dark Knight over Begins (although I still LOVE Begins). After watching Inception though, I couldn’t help but wonder what the Batman films would have been like if instead of casting Holmes or Gyllenhal (both of whom I think give the worst performances in their respective films), Nolan has cast Marion Cotillard as Rachel Dawes. Thoughts
    7) Insomnia
    6) Following
    5) Batman Begins

    • Though the audience might have scratched their heads at a French Rachel Dawes (an English-but-disguised-as-American Batman is bad enough!)

  11. oops, got cut off there :S

    7) Insomnia
    6) Following
    5) Batman Begins
    4) The Prestige
    3) Inception
    2) The Dark Knight
    1) Memento

  12. Seriously, I would put a short film that I haven’t seen ahead of Insomnia any day…not a fan!! And no, I’m not surprised Batman Begins is #1, I live with you, remember?! Great List!!

  13. I have not seen Inception yet, so I cannot comment on it, but I can say that Memento is better than both Batman Films. Memento was highly original, and like Kai said, still came out great on no budget. I have three big problems with the Batman films, and they are problems with most (if not all) comic-book movies. 1: Why have more than 1 villain? BB would have been better if Ras Alghul was the only baddie, and TDK with Joker. If one villain isn’t good enough, send the script in for some fine-tuning and make them better. 2: Why do we need a love interest? Every girl Bruce Wayne bangs finds out he’s Batman. Good job keeping that identity secret Bruce. Bruce Wayne does not have time for meaningful relationships; his work is his one and only passion. The man is a billaionaire, if he wants to get laid, he can have Alfred set something up that doesn’t involve him revealing he is the Bat. 3: Crap bordering on the preposterous. The batmobile in BB, although believable, was ugly as hell. Shame on the guy that green-lit that model. But back to nosense stuff; the microwave gun in BB was absurd; especially when one of the henchmen walks through the beam nonchalantly. Micorwaves heat water, we are made of water, he should have exploded. Then TDK gave us the cellphone-sonar-xray-vision. Come on, the Joker takes hostages and leaves every single person in possesion of a cellphone that is turned on? TDK lost me at that point. Batman is a badass, and does not need technology to succeed, so why do they stress that in the movies? Batman is successful because he is in peak physical condition and is the world’s greatest detective. He succeeds without superpowers, and doesn’t require B.S. toys that look cool. Sorry about the rant, my fingers wouldn’t stop typing.

  14. 5. Inception
    4. The Dark Knight
    3. Memento
    2. Batman Begins
    1. The Prestige

    Props for putting Batman Begins ahead of the overrated Dark Knight. It’s really cool to see our ranks increase by the day! :)

  15. All that mentioned, it’s certainly refreshing to view a video not depending on a comic book, not based on an old television suggest, and not just a remake that for no reason required to get manufactured within the 1st spot. It’s it, folks, the just one blockbuster this summer that will likely be worth the cash you set down for it.

  16. Great list and what makes it even better has to be your reasons for putting certain films in each spot.

    Your right when you say The Prestige is underrated, I loved it the first time I saw it in the cinema and still recommend it to people.

    • Well, that makes you a very intelligent person! The Prestige IS fantastic! And thanks for the compliment!

      • Thank you for that compliment! Myself and friends I go to the cinema have an inside joke about The Prestige as one of my male friends nearly hit the roof with the gun shot at the end, needless to say we have never let him forget that!

  17. I apparently have a lot more love for The Prestige than anyone else. Ah well. There are worse things.

  18. wow. i think ill give Inception a few years to see where it would rank, but my first reaction is ‘highly’.
    Ha! batman begins blew me away in the cinema, but ive watched it a few times recently and i have to say, its not that great. if you like people to say the word ‘fear’ every five seconds then you probably think its the best film ever made. it is good but its not in the same class as The Dark Knight.
    The Prestige is a film I love though, Bale is excellent in it and its nice to see Hugh Jackman not play a pair of sideburns.
    Memento just hurts my head.

    • McG, does being wrong about things (like Batman) ever physically hurt… is it like a condition? haha
      I’m with you on Jackman though. That’s the only non-Wolverine movie he doesn’t bother me in.

  19. I love that you put Batman Begins before the Dark Knight. Save Katie Holmes annoying performance Begins was a better movie, it’s just you get swept away by Ledger in Dark Knight. My list would be similar, though I haven’t seen all of his flicks, but Memento would more than likely be my number one, possibly the Prestige before DK. I don’t know it’s very difficult! Giving Inception a tie with it, is a compliment to it though!

    And thanks for the plug!

  20. Here are my rankings:
    7) Insomnia
    6) Following
    5) Batman Begins
    4) Inception
    3) The Dark Knight
    2) The Prestige
    1) Memento

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