We made it—well, almost. Tenet, Christopher Nolan’s tenth feature film, is due to release to International Audiences this week and to American audiences for Labor Day. It’s been three years since his last theatrical offering, and if you’re like me it feels much longer.
Nolan is my favorite working director, not just for the stunning visuals but for the incredible stories and worlds he offers. And I expect Tenet will fill that role. But as we count down these final days, it’s a good time for a Nolan re-watch. (Actually, if I’m honest, there is never a bad time for a Nolan re-watch.) For this week’s Binge Watch I’m going to give you my order for Nolan’s films with one big exception—I won’t be including his Batman trilogy. This is just Nolan’s other original films, of which there are six. I will give the list in reverse order.
As always, agree, disagree, have a different take? Hit me up on Twitter @knighthawk7734 or join the comments.
6. Memento (2000)
About: This was the first of Nolan’s feature films, and it still holds up. In fact, if you listen to the Music City Drive In Podcast (and if not, why aren’t you!), we nominated Nolan for his work on this film as we re-nominated the 2001 Academy Awards. I like Guy Pearce here, too, and the overall tone of the film. There isn’t a bad Nolan film, just ones that I like a little less than others. Memento was a novel concept executed well, it’s just not my favorite Nolan film.
5. Interstellar (2014)
About: This is probably one of Nolan’s most polarizing films. Some people dearly love it. Some didn’t care for it. I like it a lot, but I don’t love it. There are moments of sheer brilliance, and visually this one is stunning. Matthew McConaughey gives his all and is quite good. But there is a bit of the ending to the story that didn’t totally land for me. Again, with Nolan we’re splitting hairs. I own this film and enjoy watching it, it just doesn’t rate as high as the others on this list.
4. The Prestige (2006)
About: This is an under-rated film. When it came out, there were two films that seemingly used magic and illusion as part of the plot. The Illusionist, which is awful, seemed to get more publicity. But Nolan’s The Prestige is the better film. He has a lot of his Batman team in this, including a good performance from Christian Bale. Sometimes I think this one gets forgotten, but I enjoy it quite a bit.
3. Insomnia (2002)
About: If The Prestige is overlooked, Insomnia feels like Nolan’s most under-appreciated film. It features some great performances, particularly from Robin Williams. It was Nolan’s second feature film, his follow up to Memento, and it shows his ability to craft a story, get great performances and deliver some stunning visuals. It’s an exceptional cast, which includes Al Pacino and Hilary Swank, and is a great re-watch.
2. Dunkirk (2017)
About: Some would probably have this as Nolan’s best film, or at least his best non-Batman film. I loved it a lot, and it made my list of the Best Films of the Last Decade. But there is one coming I love a little big more. The performances here are solid, but this is about the visual storytelling, the time construct and the way this tells the story of a crucial World War II battle. Nolan has deserved more credit in his career than he’s gotten, and this was one of the films where he was robbed of award recognition.
1. Inception (2010)
About: It’s hard to believe this film is a decade old. Some people got hung up on the ending, and that certainly is meant to spark and inspire conversation. But I love everything about this film. It’s my favorite non-Batman film, and one of my favorites from the last decade. The cast and performances are incredible, and the visuals here are stunning at times. I also loved the story and the way it compels you at the end but leaves it up to you to decide how it goes. That is the mark of great art, which inspires a conversation and lets our imaginations carry us to the finish line. This one is re-releasing in theaters in celebration of its tenth anniversary, and it’s well worth checking out if you’ve never seen it.
Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast, a proud member of the Drive-In Podcast Network.