All Christopher Nolan Movies Ranked Worst to Best

All Christopher Nolan Movies Ranked (From Worst to Best)

Christopher Nolan is arguably one of Hollywood’s hardest working filmmakers, putting out consistently good to great movies across his career that spans over two decades. While many would agree that Nolan has yet to release a bad or even mediocre movie, his filmography is loaded with projects that blazed a trail in pop culture, from The Dark Knight to Inception and Interstellar. Ahead of the release of his next movie, Oppenheimer, we’ve ranked all 11 Christopher Nolan movies from worst to best.

As a disclaimer before we begin, this list is purely personal opinion. It’s not based on any aggregate website scores which differ depending on the preferences of audiences and fans. This list is simply a subjective ranking of what we consider to be his most triumphant works for a number of reasons.

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All Christopher Nolan Movies Ranked (From Worst to Best)

11. Following

Christopher Nolan’s debut feature, Following, is often forgotten when discussing his filmography. It’s a tense, suspenseful thriller that showed the director’s penchant for brainy, thought-provoking filmmaking with some interesting twists along the way. However, while it’s a good movie in isolation, Following felt like Nolan was still trying to establish a signature style so it wasn’t as confidently handled as his later work.

10. Insomnia

Insomnia is the black sheep of Nolan’s filmography. Apart from the impressive performances of Al Pacino and the late Robin Williams, Insomnia is Nolan’s most straight-forward thriller – partially due to him not actually writing the script. Despite this, the movie illustrates some of the director’s strongest qualities: a multi-layered story with a strong focus on character exploration. It’s dark and may upset some viewers because of its stomach-churning themes but it’s an essential watch.

9. Tenet

Tenet was Nolan’s effort to make a big-budget, galaxy brain arthouse movie that constantly (and I do mean constantly) challenged audiences. The central plot about preventing World War III by way of using bizarre time manipulation created opportunities for some mind-bending visual effects, though it’s story is – even by Nolan’s standards – very confusing, to say the least. That said, there’s something to be said about the director’s boldness in taking $200 million and making something this absurdly complex yet weirdly enthralling from beginning to end.

8. The Dark Knight Rises

It was never going to be an easy feat wrapping up the impeccable Dark Knight trilogy in a satisfying way but Nolan, with a sure hand, delivered with The Dark Knight Rises. While it’s not nearly as strong or expertly written as The Dark Knight, its follow-up was a rollercoaster comic book epic that gave us Tom Hardy’s menacing portrayal of Bane and some of the most exciting action in the whole trilogy. It suffers with character writing in parts but it ends on an absolutely pitch-perfect note.

7. Batman Begins

Batman Begins changed the landscape of superhero movies forever and set a very high bar for origins stories in Hollywood. Christian Bale’s portrayal of Bruce Wayne/Batman was fantastic as was Cillian Murphy’s overlooked performance as Scarecrow. Batman Begins managed to deliver a well-written, gritty and exciting superhero story that gave the Caped Crusader new life in cinema and proved that taking a more grounded approach to comic source material was the right call, at least for Batman.

6. Memento

Enough has already been said about Nolan’s dense, complex thriller but Memento is often seen today as a cult classic and the first time that we got to experience his signature style of writing at work. Taking the story of a man with short-term memory loss attempting to track down his wife’s killer, Memento intertwined two timelines – one in forward and one in reverse – that unravelled an incredible mystery with a surprise ending. Dody Dorn’s editing was also award-worthy.

5. Dunkirk

Nolan’s first World War II movie before Oppenheimer, Dunkirk retold the harrowing story of the British Commonwealth soldiers that were stranded on a beach, waiting for rescue as the German army surrounded them. Instead of following one protagonist, Dunkirk tells several stories from different perspectives that all masterfully intertwine during pivotal moments in the event. The result is one of the best war movies ever made and a technical masterpiece.

4. The Prestige

The Prestige is a personal favourite by fans and it’s easy to see why. Following the battle of wits between two magicians (Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale) during 1890s London to create the ultimate illusion, the movie is a suspenseful, unpredictable thriller with more twists than you can throw a Shyamalan-sized stick at. It shows just how far magicians would go to pull off the greatest trick of their lives, even at the cost of everything dear to them. The Prestige is a magnificent piece of work and ranks highly in Nolan’s filmography.

3. Interstellar

Interstellar is Nolan’s most emotionally charged work led by Matthew McConaughey’s best performance of his career. Don’t let it’s almost 3-hour run time put you off – Interstellar moves at a brisk pace as it tells the gripping sci-fi story about humanity seeking a new home planet beyond the stars. Apart from some tear-jerking moments, the movie also boasts one of composer Hans Zimmer’s most legendary scores as well as unmatched practical effects that still hold up well today.

2. The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight earns its accolades as the best comic book movie of all time. Taking the gritty approach from Batman Begins, The Dark Knight immediately sets the mood for a compelling crime drama above your average superhero flick. Featuring the late Heath Ledger’s iconic portrayal of The Joker and some of the best directorial work of Nolan’s career, The Dark Knight is the pinnacle of comic book movies and it has not been challenged since 2008.

1. Inception

Inception‘s inventive dream-heist premise, captivating narrative, superb ensemble of actors and breathtaking special effects claim the top spot as Christopher Nolan’s best movie. A big-budget blockbuster that effortlessly combines a cerebral plot with all the high-stakes tension of a heist movie, Inception‘s impact is still felt in creative filmmaking today and on pop culture as a whole. While not as massively renowned  as The Dark Knight, Inception proved to the world that Nolan was not your ordinary filmmaker and one to keep an eye on.

Editor-in-Chief of Nexus Hub, writer at GLITCHED. Former writer at The Gaming Report and All Otaku Online. RPG addict that has wonderful nightmares of Bloodborne 2.

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