11. Memento (2000)
This is going to anger people.
I admit that I have not seen Memento in a long time, but that it because it did not grip me. Maybe I was too dumb to understand how brilliant Memento is when I first saw it.
As I type this I make a promise that I will attempt to r-watch Memento ASAP, but as of now its bottom tier Christopher Nolan.
STANKO RATING: C+ (2.5/5 Stars)
10. The Prestige (2006)
The Prestige is a good watch, until the crazy amount of twists in the final act. The twins intertwined in a love story, and the blend of science of magic just all felt too much. It’s like he saw too much of M. Night Shyamalan in the early 2000s and he wanted to have a crack at his style.
The final shoe-drop of The Prestige is very solid and makes the audience rewind to watch it again. That is a positive, no doubt, but everything leading up to that doesn’t excite, but rather underwhelms with its excess.
STANKO RATING: B (3.5/5 Stars)
9. Insomnia (2002)
In the weeks after seeing Insomnia for the first time, I find myself going back and thinking about it more than I thought I would have; mainly for the visuals and how striking the landscape and environment the story takes place in.
As I have been completing my Christopher Nolan filmography and re-watching many of the movies, I have come to the realization that I am more infatuated with the look and feel of a Nolan movie rather than the story itself.
I do not stop lose sleep myself when thinking about Nolan or his movies, but I am having more thoughts on what make his movies pop. I do not have all the answers, or any of them really, but Insomnia began prompting the deeper thoughts.
STANKO RATING: C+ (3.0/5 Stars)
8. Tenet (2020)
Christopher Nolan may have gotten a little too lost in the sauce with Tenet. While still enjoyable and very pretty to look at, even the most experienced movie watcher and Nolan fan will have to pause Tenet and ask what the heck is going on.
Robert Pattinson is the best part of Tenet, but the best scene in the movie involved two people sitting in a room (which is rather crazy for a movie that was filled with explosions and set pieces).
When the Protagonist (John David Washington) meets Kat (Elizabeth Debicki) for the first time in the restaurant, it was riveting. We learned so much about how each character operates and also the yet-to-be-seen Sator (Kenneth Branagh).
Tenet has action pieces that are beautiful to watch, but while they are visually tantalizing, the constant “what does this all really mean” confusion takes away from more enjoyment.
STANKO RATING: B (3.5/5 Stars)
7. Interstellar (2014)
Honestly, Interstellar is tied with Tennet (2020), but there is one aspect from this space-bending drama that puts it just above its most similar motif follower.
The tense nature and consequences of Brand (Anne Hathaway) and Cooper’s (Matthew McConaughey) extended stay on the tempest planet sticks with every viewer who sees it.
Also Jessica Chastain as older Murph is a force. May or may not have started my crush on Chastain as a human.
Interstellar definitely falls in love with itself at its VERY long two hours and 46 minute run time. Shave another 20 minutes off the movie and it could have risen higher in my personal rankings.
STANKO RATING: B+ (4.0/5 Stars)
6. Batman Begins (2005)
There is an argument that Batman Begins is the most important but also most painfully precedent setting movie in the DC movie universe.
Batman Begins reintroduced Batman and Bruce Wayne to the world after a series of very poor predecessors like Batman Forever (1995) and Batman & Robin (1997). It also was a super hero origin story before audiences got too cool for them, in particular the death of the Wayne parents in the alley.
Personally speaking, this is also peak superhero training montage stuff. What Bruce Wayne goes through in his training with Henri Ducard is real while also being fantastical. It is like a novelized Lord of the Rings version of comic book training. It is so freaking cool.
STANKO RATING: B+ (3.5/5 Stars)
5. Following (1998)
Following is nothing I expected but left me wanting more. I wanted a second helping.
Christopher Nolan’s first full feature film is a black & white crime drama that plays with time (naturally, it is Nolan) and runs its twisting course in a crisp 69 minutes. None of the characters in the movie have a name (if you watch, you’ll understand what I mean with Cobb), but each character is identifiable. Jeremy Theobald and Alex Haw are fantastic with one another as the two lead characters. It is crazy to think that Haw never acted ever again…he is an architect in London.
Nolan wrote Following, and it is one of the better movies he has written. It is quick and witty; it does not have a lot of the over-the-top speeches or an over complicated plot. It is a simple theme with a subtle twist. It has something that is entertainable to everyone; the idea of learning things and holding things over strangers.
I understand now why Hollywood gave Nolan a chance.
STANKO RATING: B+ (4.0/5 Stars)
4. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
The Dark Knight Rises has had a glow up in recent years, and I think that is the appropriate reaction. No, it is no The Dark Knight (2008), but it is still a very very good comic book movie.
I think it gets over looked that WE ACTUALLY SEE BATMAN GET DESTROYED!? Comic book movies try and humanize their heroes, but it’s hard to think of a better demonstration than Bane (Tom Hardy) breaking the Dark Knight’s back.
The major gripe with The Dark Knight Rises is the sudden elimination of Bane by Selena Kyle (Anne Hathaway), and that I do agree with. But I also have grown to like it because guess what, Batman can’t beat everyone. He is human.
STANKO RATING: A- (4.5/5 Stars)
3. Inception (2010)
In terms of an original idea and taking it to its fullest capacity, Inception really set a precedent. Coming in between The Dark Knight (2008) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012), it feels like Nolan wanted to make sure he took care of his mental health by making this unique blockbuster.
Visually beauty, a star-studded cast with the star power of Leonardo DiCaprio, and a very talked-about ending makes Inception he most discussed Nolan adventure.
I can personally guarantee that any high school or college man around the run of this decade was transfixed by Inception when it was released.
STANKO RATING: A (4.0/5 Stars)
2. The Dark Knight (2008)
Is this the best super hero ever made? One can make the argument, and for me its only true competition is Logan (2017).
The Dark Knight is one of the few movies where Nolan allowed an actor to take over the screen and dominate the visual/technical aspects. Heath Ledger as The Joker is iconic, but it is not the only aspect of this movie that shines.
The willingness to naturally weave Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel and then kill her takes guts. Also The Dark Knight managed to make a potentially overstuffed villainy gallery work by making Harvey Dent’s transformation a final third act turning point.
The Dark Knight works due in large part because it can be viewed as a story about The Joker and evil; something very similar to what made Tim Burton’s Batman work in 1989.
STANKO RATING: A- (4.5/5 Stars) – Original rating on Excel Sheet was A+ (4.5/5 Stars)
1. Dunkirk (2017)
Dunkirk is the best movie that Christopher Nolan has made. When looking at everything going into the movie, whether it be the story, acting, directing, sound mixing, visual effects; Dunkirk stands above the rest.
Nolan uses his favorite abstract theme of “time” but in its most linear fashion. Three different stories that weave together for one of Nolan’s most emotional and impactful endings.
While the visuals of Dunkirk are impressive in their own right, there is a special shoutout that needs to be given to the sound and music department. Hans Zimmer has partnered with Nolan before, but his work here is profound. It’s a must listen to soundtrack and it’ll transport you to exactly where Nolan wants you to be.
STANKO RATING: A (5.0/5 Stars)