Oscar Directors: Nolan, Christopher–Career

One of the most gifted and original filmmakers working in Hollywood today, British-born Christopher Nolan is also one of the few Hollywood directors who has never made an artistically bad picture, or a commercial flop. Granted, not all of his efforts were successful, or equally successful, but there is not a single movie in his oeuvre, thus far, that is really weak, disappointing, or embarrassing.
Beginning his second decade as a filmmaker, with the highly anticipated, overly-hyped “Inception” (see my review), Nolan is clearly at the top of his form not only as a director but also as a writer and producer.
Nolan began small, really small, in 1997, with the short, small-budget and modest noir” Following.” He followed with the clever and witty post-modernist noir “Memento,” his breakthrough indie movie, which was nominated for the Original Screenplay Oscar.
Though well-acted by Al Pacino and Robin Williams and skillfully shot, “Insomnia” is Nolan’s most conventional picture, perhaps because it’s a remake.
Through the technical extravaganza of “The Prestige,” a movie of mixed results, Nolan continued to sharpen his narrative, dramatic and visual skills
Along the way, he rebooted successfully for Warner the “Batman” franchise. “Batman Begins” was a decent movie, and a challenge, given the audience expectations after four previous chapters.
Of all the films he has made today, including “Inception,” the most satisfying one is “The Dark Knight,” in large part due to Heath Leather’s diabolical performance for which he received a posthumous Supporting Oscar.
Nolan seems to be the kind of director for whom bigger scale, larger budget, and more polished state-of-the-art special effects translate into all-around better pictures; for most directors, it’s usually the other way round. This may be a result of being able to reconcile successfully a number of seemingly contradictory tendencies of mainstream cinema.
This week, we’ll reexamine each and every Nolan’s film, from “Following” all the way to “Inception.”
Commercial Appeal of Nolan’s Films (in $ globally)
Memento (2001) $41 million
Insomnia (2002) $114 million
Batman Begins (2004) $373 million
The Prestige (2006) $110 million
The Dark Knight (2008) 1 billion (over $500 million domestically)
Dunkirk (2017)
Critical Status
The Dark Knight (2008) 94 percent positive reviews
Memento (2001) 93 percent
Insomnia (2002) 92 percent
Batman Begins (2004) 85 percent
The Prestige (2006) 75 percent