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Christopher Nolan’s Best Movies, Ranked by Rotten Tomatoes

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By Jitin Gambhir

Christopher Nolan has established himself as one of the most exceptional directors in the industry, having directed some of the most remarkable films in the past 25 years. With five Academy Award nominations for his writing and directing, he has proved to be one of the most untouchable personalities in Hollywood today.

In today’s world, where Rotten Tomatoes scores dominate the reviews, Nolan has some of the highest scores of any contemporary director. Here are his films, ranked according to the vegetable-themed aggregator.

Christopher Nolan’s Best Movies, Ranked by Rotten Tomatoes

10. Tenet (2020) – 69%
Tenet is the only film directed by Nolan that has scored below 70% on the review site, mostly due to the complicated nature of its story. Despite its visually stunning moments and set pieces that Nolan is known for, its labyrinthine narrative and ending may have hampered some critics and moviegoers’ ability to analyze the movie.

9. Interstellar (2014) – 73%
Interstellar, released in 2014, is another movie that may have fallen victim to its ambitious and intellectual story. While the performances of the film’s leads have been and rightfully should be praised, Interstellar remains a somewhat difficult to digest film despite its high quality.

8. The Prestige (2006) – 76%
This period piece from Christopher Nolan features incredible performances from Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, and Michael Caine. The twisty nature of The Prestige keeps moviegoers engaged and on the edge of their seats throughout. This may be one entry on this list that is underrated, as the movie is often overlooked when discussing Nolan’s resume of films.

7. Following (1998) – 82%
Following, Christopher Nolan’s first feature film, may not be his best, but it is full of examples of the pure talent the filmmaker possesses and a prelude to the many successes he would have down the line. It would be interesting to see the director return to a smaller-scale story, as featured in the movie.

6. Batman Begins (2005) – 84%
Following the string of critically-panned Joel Schumacher films, it was apparent to Warner Brothers that Batman was in dire need of a fresh start. Enter Christopher Nolan and his 2005 film Batman Begins. Completely rebooting the franchise with Christian Bale as the caped crusader and a much more grounded and darker Gotham City, Batman was changed forever. The film showed that a truly compelling superhero movie could be made when in the hands of the right director.

5. The Dark Knight Rises (2012) – 87%
Closing out his Dark Knight Trilogy was always going to be a challenge for Christopher Nolan. He had built such a spectacular world with the first two entries that anything less than pure spectacle in the third act would feel like a letdown. The Dark Knight Rises was bolder and bigger than the previous films, even if it left some fans and critics wanting more.

4. Inception (2010) – 87%
Christopher Nolan has become known as the modern-day summer blockbuster director. The releases of his films have become events, as it is almost always guaranteed the director will be bringing a new innovation to the big screen. It was Inception that kicked off this trend as the film offered a visually stunning and intricate multilayered mystery all while being one of the last big-budget art films. Along with stellar performances from the stacked ensemble cast, Inception is ranked as one of Nolan’s best films.

3. Dunkirk (2017) – 92%
Dunkirk is a true testament to Nolan’s love of film, as the director crafts an ambitious and emotional masterpiece. Shooting the entire movie using natural light and 65 mm film, Nolan took filmmaking back to its roots to create a visually stunning film.

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2. Insomnia (2002) – 92%
Nolan’s visual directing takes a slight backseat in Insomnia thanks to the all-time great performances of the movie’s leads, Al Pacino and Robin Williams. One of the best psychological thrillers ever made, this movie shows Nolan’s ability to not just direct spectacle and story but actors as well.

1. Memento (2000) – 93%
It takes a particularly gifted director to navigate a story as non-linear as Memento, and that is precisely what Nolan does. One word that could be used to describe Nolan’s films is “layered,” something this movie has in spades, and Nolan’s ability to guide audiences through these layers is the mark of an all-time great filmmaker.

The Dark Knight transcends the superhero genre and does something that no other movie can claim. The film stands alone as both a comic book film and a crime film. This speaks volumes to the narrative crafted by Christopher Nolan and executed through his direction, making The Dark Knight Nolan’s highest-ranked film.

Christopher Nolan has cemented his status as one of the best directors working throughout his young 25-year directing career. Earning five Academy Award nominations for his writing and directing, the filmmaker has produced some of the cinema’s best films of the last two decades. Easily becoming one of the most “untouchable” people working in Hollywood today.

In a day and age where Rotten Tomatoes scores rule the world of reviews, Nolan boasts some of the highest scores of any modern-day director. Here are the director’s films ranked according to the vegetable-themed aggregator.

11 Tenet (2020) – 69%

A scene from Tenet
Warner Bros.

 

 

Tenet is Nolan’s only film to dip below 70% on the review site, due in part to the convoluted nature of its story. A movie that defied the odds of being released in the middle of a worldwide pandemic had all the visually stunning moments and set pieces that Nolan is known for, but its labyrinth of a narrative and ending may have hampered some critics and moviegoers’ ability to analyze the movie.

10 Interstellar (2014) – 73%

A scene from Interstellar
Paramount Pictures/Warner Bros. Pictures

 

Another movie that may have fallen victim to its ambitious and intellectual story is the director’s 2014 film Interstellar. While the performances of the film’s leads have been and rightfully should be praised, Interstellar remains a somewhat difficult to digest film despite its high quality.

9 The Prestige (2006) – 76%

Robert Angier in The Prestige
Touchstone Pictures

 

This period piece from Christopher Nolan features incredible performances from Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, and Michael Caine. The twisty nature of The Prestige keeps moviegoers engaged and on the edge of their seats throughout. This may be one entry on this list that is underrated, as the movie is often overlooked when discussing Nolan’s resume of films.

Related: The Prestige vs. The Illusionist: Which 2006 Film Wins the Battle of the Magicians?

8 Following (1998) – 82%

Christopher Nolan's Following
Momentum Pictures

 

While Christopher Nolan’s first feature film Following may not be his best, it is full of examples of the pure talent the filmmaker has and a prelude to the many successes he would have down the line. With the spectacle now surrounding most Nolan films, it would be interesting to see the director return to a smaller-scale story, as is featured in the movie.

7 Batman Begins (2005) – 84%

Ra's Al Ghul Batman Begins
Warner Bros. Pictures

 

Following the string of critically-panned Joel Schumacher films, it was apparent to Warner Brothers that Batman was in dire need of fresh air. Enter Christopher Nolan and his 2005 film Batman Begins. Completely rebooting the franchise with Christian Bale as the caped crusader and a much more grounded and darker Gotham City, Batman was changed forever.

The film showed that a truly compelling superhero movie could be made when in the hands of the right director. While Iron Man changed the landscape in 2008, Batman Begins can be looked to as the start of the modern-day superhero film.

6 The Dark Knight Rises (2012) – 87%

the-dark-knight-rises
Warner Bros.

 

Closing out his Dark Knight Trilogy was always going to be a challenge for Christopher Nolan. He had built such a spectacular world with the first two entries that anything less than pure spectacle in the third act would feel like a letdown. That is exactly what Nolan delivered. The Dark Knight Rises was bolder and bigger than the previous films, even if it left some fans and critics wanting more.

5 Inception (2010) – 87%

inception movie ending - cliffhanger
Warner Bros.

 

Christopher Nolan has become known as the modern-day summer blockbuster director. The releases of his films have become events, as it is almost always guaranteed the director will be bringing a new innovation to the big screen. It was Inception that kicked off this trend as the film offered a visually stunning and intricate multilayered mystery all while being one of the last big-budget art films. Along with stellar performances from the stacked ensemble cast, Inception is ranked as one of Nolan’s best films, and rightfully so.

Related: These Are Some of the Best American Heist Movies, Ranked

4 Dunkirk (2017) – 92%

Farrier in Dunkirk
Warner Bros. Pictures

 

Dunkirk is a true testament to Nolan’s love of film, as the director crafts an ambitious and emotional masterpiece. Shooting the entire movie using natural light and 65 mm film, Nolan took filmmaking back to its roots to create a visually stunning film. The movie ranks as one of the director’s best pieces of work to date and shows that the classic methods of filmmaking will never cease to be.

3 Insomnia (2002) – 92%

Insomnia Movie 1200 x 630
Warner Bros. Pictures

 

Nolan’s visual directing takes a slight backseat in Insomnia thanks to the all-time great performances of the movie’s leads, Al Pacino and Robin Williams. One of the best psychological thrillers ever made. This movie shows Nolan’s ability to not just direct spectacle and story but actors as well.

2 Memento (2000) – 93%

Memento 1200 x 630
Newmarket

 

It takes a particularly gifted director to navigate a story as non-linear as Memento, and that is precisely what Nolan does. One word that could be used to describe Nolan’s films is “layered”, something this movie has in spades, and Nolan’s ability to guide audiences through these layers is the mark of an all-time great filmmaker.

1 The Dark Knight (2008) – 94%

Ledger as The Joker
Warner Bros. Pictures

 

The Dark Knight transcends the superhero genre and does something that no other movie can claim. The film stands alone as both a comic book film and a crime film. You could easily remove Batman as the lead and insert a run-of-the-mill detective and still have just as entertaining and successful of a movie. This speaks volumes to the narrative crafted by Christopher Nolan and executed through his direction. Making The Dark Knight Nolan’s highest-ranked film.

 

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