Christopher Nolan Movies Ranked from Worst to Best…?

Thank you for reading through my entire ranking to the very end!

Next up should be Disney/Pixar films!

Happy Holidays, everyone!


11. (THE WORST) The Prestige (2006)

the prestige
Image via Touchstone Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures, Newmarket Films, Syncopy

My Grade: B

Metascore: 66/100

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 76%

Alternate TL;DR Review: Christopher Nolan, the director of The Dark Knight Trilogy, presents The Prestige, an epic crossover event between Marvel’s Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and DC’s Batman (Christian Bale), featuring Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis), and Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine…and in 2022, also Andy Serkis)!

TL;DR Review: The Prestige, at its surface, is a story of a rivalry between two magicians, but its audience is already aware of key plot points early into the film, as it is presented in achronological order. By wisely emphasizing the “how” over the “what”, The Prestige unravels itself as a haunting devolution of passion into obsession. 

10. Memento (2000)

memento
Image via Summit Entertainment, Team Todd, Newmarket Films

My Grade: B+

Metascore: 80/100

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%

Altnernate TL;DR Review: “Sammy, it’s time for my shot.” Ooh…the chills!

TL;DR Review: Presented in an immersive, attention-grabbing style, Memento is a profound, carefully crafted exploration of the relationship between memory and trust.

9. Inception (2010)

inception
Image via Legendary Pictures, Syncopy, Warner Bros. Pictures

My Grade: B+

Metascore: 74/100

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%

Alternate TL;DR Review:

Row, row, row your boat

Gently down the stream

Merrily, merrily…

…merrily…merrily (?)

Life… is… but… a…

DREAM.

TL;DR Review: Presenting strong worldbuilding as its finest and its take on themes of guilt, memory, reality, and trust, Inception, with no doubt, is the most comprehensive Christopher Nolan film.

8. The Dark Knight (2008)

the dark knight
Image via Warner Bros. Pictures

My Grade: B+

Metascore: 84/100

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%

TL;DR Review: The Dark Knight successfully builds upon the well-established world of Gotham from Batman Begins. With its compelling plot, suspenseful action sequences, and powerful acting performances (especially from the late Heath Ledger as The Joker), The Dark Knight could very well be the quintessential 21st Century superhero film.

7. Dunkirk (2017)

dunkirk
Image via Warner Bros. Pictures

My Grade: A-

Metascore: 94/100

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%

TL;DR Review: Emphasizing visuals and music over dialogue and character development, Dunkirk is a spectacular depiction of an actual wartime event.

6. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

the dark knight rises
Image via Warner Bros. Pictures

My Grade: A-

Metascore: 78/100

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%

TL;DR Review: This film should have been called Batman Begins 2 (or something more creative that hints at the fact that this movie is more similar to Batman Begins than The Dark Knight). I know that’s super nitpicky, but that’s just because there’s not much that’s wrong with this movie.

5. Batman Begins (2005)

batman begins
Image via Warner Bros. Pictures

My Grade: A

Metascore: 70/100

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 84%

TL;DR Review: “I’m [dark, serious, narratively fleshed out, and realistic] Batman.”

4. Tenet (2020)

tenet
Image via Warner Bros. Pictures, Syncopy

My Grade: A+

Metascore: 69/100

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 71%

Alternate TL;DR Review:

(Not So) TL;DR Review: “Don’t try to understand it. Feel it.” Tenet is a calculated and complex cross among Memento, Inception, and Interstellar. No other Christopher Nolan film is more deserving of a second watch. This is not necessarily a testament to its quality, even though it is definitely an excellent movie; rather, this is a warning to most audience members that they will find themselves uncomfortably confused when watching this film for the first time. Thankfully, though, the confusion does not entirely take away from the enjoyment of what might soon be regarded as “The Inception of the 2020s.”

3. Interstellar (2014)

interstellar
Image via Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures

My Grade: A+

Metascore: 74/100

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 72%

TL;DR Review: To save the world, or to save your world? The lengthy, visually stunning, post-apocalyptic Interstellar, despite an underwhelming ending, effectively explores this conflicting scenario.

2. Insomnia (2002)

insomnia
Image via Warner Bros. Pictures, Alcon Entertainment

My Grade: A+

Metascore: 78/100

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%

TL;DR Review: Boasting strong acting performances, especially from Al Pacino and Robin Williams, Insomnia presents a cleverly complicated murder investigation. (Also, does anyone want to hang out in Alaska or a Nordic country next summer? I would love to check out some all-day daylight!)

1. (THE BEST) Following (1998)

following
Image via Momentum Pictures, Next Wave Films

My Grade: A+

Metascore: 60/100

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 81%

TL;DR Review: Is it wrong that I think this movie comes across as a thrilling Humans of New York fan-fiction?


Are. You. Ready?

In case you don’t want to read the full ranking, here are the top and bottom 3 films. I am really sorry in advance to hardcore Interstellar and Inception fans. This was a very hard ranking of some really great films!

BOTTOM 3TOP 3
9. Inception3. Interstellar
10. Memento2. Insomnia
11. (THE WORST) The Prestige1. (THE BEST) Following

!naloN rehpotsirhC – woW

Christopher Nolan
Christopher Nolan

Christopher Nolan?  The guy who made Inception and those really good Batman movies?  Yes, indeed! 

Christopher Nolan is a British-American filmmaker whose career spans over 20 years with 11 feature films.  Garnering multiple Academy Award nominations among other prestigious acclaims, he is considered by many to be one of the greatest directors of the 21st Century (at least, according to some really vocal people in my friend groups and on the Internet). 

Having directed commercially and critically successful films such as InceptionInterstellar, and The Dark Knight Trilogy, Nolan has been able to establish quite a unique approach to filmmaking, most notably boasting the following features: 

Exciting action sequences.  Shocking plot twists.  Heavy-handed psychological, philosophical, and metaphysical themes.  Abundant expository dialogue.  Extensive use of practical effects over green screen and CG animation.  Non-linear narratives… 

…and Michael Caine. 

(Seriously, think of the relationship between Nolan and Caine as similar to those between Wes Anderson and Bill Murray, Tim Burton and Johnny Depp/Helena Bonham Carter, Sofia Coppola and Kirsten Dunst (and to a lesser extent, Bill Murray), Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro/Leonardo DiCaprio, Quentin Tarantino and Samuel L. Jackson, and after a couple more films, Greta Gerwig and Saoirse Ronan/Timothée Chalamet.) 

In my opinion, Nolan films are clearly designed to be both strikingly entertaining and intellectually stimulating.  In other words, to put it simply, his movies are fun, and they make me think a lot, which is really cool! 

By no means, of course, am I saying that Christopher Nolan is the first or only mainstream director to combine thrilling action sequences with dense intellectual messages.  Rather, I am saying that he is probably one of the most notable modern directors to be doing the specific type of filmmaking that he does.   

I already had a positive opinion of Nolan before starting this marathon (at that point, I had only seen Inception and The Dark Knight), and I am quite pleased to say that my opinion of Nolan’s films was only strengthened after watching this amazing filmography. 

I particularly admired how Nolan applied his filmmaking style to The Dark Knight Trilogy (Batman BeginsThe Dark KnightThe Dark Knight Rises).  Personally, I am not a fan of most superhero movies, as I find many of their plots to be bland and repetitive and most of their characters – especially the villains – underwritten and poorly fleshed out (don’t worry, I will still be doing superhero movie marathons!).  It is for this reason that I found The Dark Knight Trilogy, with its complex and serious take on the “good guy defeats the bad guy and gets ‘the girl’” narrative, refreshing, and I was able to see how these Batman films influenced the Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC Extended Universe, commercially and (sometimes, more often than not for the MCU) critically successful superhero film franchises. 

With all that being said, I strongly recommended giving all of Nolan’s movies at least one watch.  I say “at least one watch” because many of his movies, due to their complex and dense plots, can be tricky to understand when watching them for the first time.  In fact, if you especially wish to watch MementoInception, and Tenet, I beg that you watch these films more than once. 

Alright, then!  Let’s get started!


Uh Oh! Plot Twist!

If you hadn’t already guessed it – I wrote this blog post backwards, and that is not my actual ranking of Christopher Nolan’s films. You might have wondered why my reviews for the lower-ranked films seemed more positive than those for the higher-ranked films. Well, that is because the ranking and grades were actually in reverse order! (In other words, The Prestige is actually an A+ movie and is #1.)

Here is the real ranking with the correct grades:

11. (THE WORST – though not at all a bad movie) Following (B)

10. Insomnia (B+)

9. Interstellar (B+)

8. Tenet (A-)

7. Batman Begins (A-)

6. The Dark Knight Rises (A)

5. Dunkirk (A)

4. The Dark Knight (A+)

3. Inception (A+)

2. Memento (A+)

1. (THE BEST) The Prestige (A+)

So if anyone asks me why I ranked Batman Begins over The Dark Knight, then I know you didn’t actually read this part of the blog post or the tier list, which has the actual rankings/grades. Oh, wait! I almost forgot…


The Beginning of the Blog Post

Any requests? Fill out the form here!

If you do not wish to read the entire post, here is the ranking as a tier list (made using TierMaker).

A+ (THE BEST): The Prestige, Memento, Inception, The Dark Knight

A (EXCELLENT): Dunkirk, The Dark Knight Rises

A- (AWESOME): Batman Begins, Tenet

B+ (REALLY GREAT): Interstellar, Insomnia

B (SOLID): Following

Recommended Films to Watch First: Insomnia, Batman Begins, Memento, Inception

Published by Miles Ndukwe

Some guy with glasses.

3 thoughts on “Christopher Nolan Movies Ranked from Worst to Best…?

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