Top 7 Best Christopher Nolan Movies To Watch, Ranked

Christopher Nolan is currently one of the most talked about directors, with “Oppenheimer” up for several Academy Awards. Nolan is already known for his previous blockbuster films such as “Inception,” “Interstellar” and the “The Dark Knight” trilogy. If you’re already a fan, you know the director is famous for his cerebral storytelling style and out-of-the-box concepts in tandem with a complex presentation of human emotion. If you’re new to the realm, StudyFinds compiled a list of some of the best Christopher Nolan movies, including some you may not be familiar with.

Ready to start your journey? Nolan’s films will take you on a wild journey through time and space while bringing up vital questions about human existence. StudyFinds consulted 11 expert sources to create this consensus list of the best Christopher Nolan movies. Let us know your favorite film in the comments below!

➡️ How Our “Best Of The Best” Lists Are Created

StudyFinds’ “Best of the Best” articles are put together with the idea of taking the work out of common consumer research. Ever find yourself searching for a product or service on Google and reading multiple reviews to find items listed across many of them? Our Best of the Best lists are created with that process in mind, with each item ranked by how frequently it appears on expert reviews or lists. With Best of the Best, you are getting consensus picks — making them truly the best of the best!

Batman slingshot
Batman logo (Photo by Obi Onyeador on Unsplash)

The List: Best Christopher Nolan Movies, According to Fans

1. “The Dark Knight” (2008)

YouTube video

Taking on the task of reviving the Batman franchise was a giant risk, but also a huge turning point in Nolan’s career. Now, “The Dark Knight” trilogy is what usually comes to mind when mentioning Batman films. Variety compared “The Dark Knight,” which Heath Ledger posthumously won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Joker, to iconic films like “Jaws,” “Titanic” and “The Godfather” trilogy as it owned an important moment in American culture at the time.

“The Dark Knight” brought to life the comic book character on a level that no one had ever dared to attempt before, combining the uncomfortable, gritty darkness of Gotham City, with the uniquely human aspects of each character. Collider calls “The Dark Knight” the greatest superhero movie ever, calling the film “stimulating on a visceral, intellectual, and emotional level.”

IGN recalls how “The Dark Knight” became one of the most hyped movies of the decade. The film took on a legendary status due to the movie’s viral marketing campaign and Ledger’s tragic overdose death. It easily goes down as the best Batman movie of all-time.

2. “Oppenheimer” (2023)

YouTube video

“Oppenheimer” is Nolan’s most recent film, and perhaps his most ambitious endeavor to date. The movie is about J. Robert Oppenheimer, the physicist behind the atomic bomb. Vulture notes how the Oscar-nominated movie was able to toe the “thin line between heroism and disgrace.”

“Oppenheimer” manages to tell the story of a historical figure while simultaneously drawing audiences into the mind of the protagonist and the moral and ethical battles he faces. The Hollywood Reporter calls the post-Trinity test pep rally scene as the “most cleverly directed and emotionally powerful sequence” of Nolan’s career. The site also said Ludwig Göransson’s score might be the best yet for the director’s film.

To sum it all up, MovieWeb calls “Oppenheimer a “cultural phenomenon.” Nolan was able to thrill and terrify the audience with the masterful film.

3. “Dunkirk” (2017)

YouTube video

“Dunkirk” is a war film that is more than just a movie — it is an experience. The film brings the audience right into the middle of World War II, in a way that feels a little too close. IndieWire calls “Dunkirk” a “stunning work of raw spectacle that searches for order in the midst of chaos,” adding it’s the most contradictory film Nolan has ever made.

In typical Nolan fashion, what makes this film real is his ability to dangle one of the greatest human emotions in existence in front of the audience – hope. Timeline gives the watcher a taste of what it would feel like to find yourself in the middle of the desperation of war. Forbes believes “Dunkirk” should have won Best Picture and Best Director Academy Awards over “The Shape of Water” and Guillermo del Toro, respectively.

Vulture says “Dunkirk” doesn’t get caught up with the war genre clichés, as there’s no strategy meetings or scenes of people explaining what they’re fighting for. The movie is incredibly tense from its opening frame to its last.

4. “Memento” (2000)

YouTube video

“Memento” is one of Nolan’s first movies where he started to play with psychology, structure, and timeline. These characteristics would become part of his signature style in the future. Collider called “Memento” a “breath of fresh air” because it was a very unique film to make, adding it was one of the best movies in the 2000s.

As twisted as it may be at times, “Memento” is a relatable and emotional tale of a man on a mission for justice. Calling it a “mind-bender,” The Manual says the film tragic and darkly comedic. The movie is actually based on an original short story written by Nolan’s brother, Jonathan — who also co-wrote “The Prestige,” “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises.”

“Memento” is vastly different from other movies because it’s a noir that’s told in reverse, according to Esquire. Main character Leonard Shelby (played by Guy Pearce) is unable to form new memories while attempting to track down his wife’s murderer. Nolan earned a Best Screenplay Oscar nomination for the film.

5. “Inception” (2010)

YouTube video

Arguably one of Nolan’s most popular films, “Inception” is a truly ambitious thriller that questions the viewers’ perception of time and reality using captivating imagery. TimeOut says “Inception” puts forth incredible visual spectacles and action. However, in the end, the movie is about love and loss, rather than the effects.

The film is reminiscent of an action or spy flick and combines glamour and a star-studded cast with a score by legendary composer Hans Zimmer that became famous in its own right. Forbes notes people still talk about the meaning of the ending — whether it was a twist or not.

MovieWeb believes “Inception” has “some of the most original action sequences ever.” The film was a critical success and took home four Academy Awards.

6. “The Prestige” (2006)

YouTube video

“The Prestige” is one of Nolan’s lesser-known films but deserves recognition for its uniqueness. This time, Nolan uses magic and magicians to tell his story. Variety writes that “The Prestige” keeps audiences on its toes with its sleight-of-hand.

This movie manages to engage the audience from start to finish by building a world with characters you become invested in. It might be overshadowed by Nolan’s bigger films, but as Collider points out, it’s one of the director’s best for how it blends narrative, emotion, and character all together. IGN calls “The Prestige” Nolan’s “most watchable movie” because of the great character and cinematic work.

7. “Batman Begins” (2005)

YouTube video

“Batman Begins” isn’t necessarily perfect in terms of acting or casting, but this movie was the start of an epic franchise that would go on to recount the story of Batman in a way that would make audiences relate to both the heroes and the villains in this timeless story. IndieWire says Nolan is coming into his own as a director in this film, as he “tapped into something real” with the movie’s moral fervor.

Nolan’s interpretation of Batman shows us that the line between good and evil is a very fine one, and as humans we will always deal with the pain and consequences of striving to be good. TimeOut states that Nolan is responsible for the current superhero boom.

MovieWeb calls “Batman Begins” one of the “most important movies of the 21st century.” Not only did it catapult Nolan’s career, but “Batman Begins’ became a template for superhero blockbusters. Thanks to Nolan, Batman was redefined for a whole new generation.


Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This article may contain affiliate links in which we receive a commission if you make a purchase.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *