This accolade alone however undersells Nolan’s genius. He is one of the few, perhaps the only Director, to have successfully blended commercial success with intelligent film making. With Nolan’s films you’re not only blown away by the special effects but you’re captivated, challenged and intrigued by the premise of the narrative. I want to run through a few films and make my argument as to why I believe he’s the best Director of our generation.
Let’s not get it twisted, I’m not saying Tarantino is anything but a fantastic director – Pulp Fiction and Inglorious Basterds are iconic films. However Tarantino has never reinvented an entire genre (and no Django doesn’t count, that’s more a gory homage) and, certainly to my mind, he’s never created a film that was truly thought provoking.
Nolan delves deeper than movie geek easter eggs or witty one liners and attempts to ask questions of the human psyche. From the psychology of watching a magic trick in The Prestige to the notion of manipulating the subconscious by implanting an idea in Inception, Nolan’s films always offer more than merely viewing pleasure.
Before I run through a few of Nolan’s films it’s worth watching this short, Doodlebug, if you haven’t seen it. It’s Nolan’s first film and is a prime example of the kind of films that Nolan would go on to make.
To write and direct a film with a nonlinear narrative structure like Memento as your first film is a ballsy move to say the least.
Memento tells the tale of Leonard (Guy Pierce), a man who is determined to find justice after the loss of a loved one, but he is incapable of fully remembering the crime, and as a viewer we’re trying to piece together the puzzle aided only by snippets of his memory jotted down, tattooed or photographed.
It’s a bit of a mind fuck to be honest and the fact that this film is used in schools to teach psychology is testament to how talented Nolan is as a storyteller.
In between the first two Batman films of Nolan’s trilogy he wrote a directed this cheeky little number about two magicians competing to deliver the world’s ultimate illusion.
“Now you’re looking for the secret. But you won’t find it because of course, you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to work it out. You want to be fooled.” – Cutter
The prestige is one of those rare films that successfully dangles the clues to unravel its plot right in front of your eyes without giving the game away – this is a sign of a talented Director. The film captures the mysticism of magic and is one of Nolan’s best films.
Batman Begins was excellent but Dark Knight was spell binding. Not many would disagree that Dark Knight is the best comic-book movie ever. Heath Ledger’s performance was iconic (and not just because he’s dead) but it was the storyline and, of course, the direction that set the film apart.
The fact that it didn’t get nominated for best picture was a travesty (although few would deny Slumdog Millionaire the accolade), and only goes to show the pretentiousness of the Oscars.
The Dark Knight Rises was also rather special – read my review here.
Inception combines the psychological intricacies of Memento with the Blockbuster scale of Dark Knight to produce arguably Nolan’s finest film. For me the only film that comes close to Inception is The Matrix in terms of storyline and scale. How this come out of one man’s mind is beyond comprehension.
Moving past the story the technology was also ground-breaking. Again shunning CGI Nolan constructed an entire hotel corridor which rotated for the Joseph Gordon-Levitt fight scene. Epic.
So are you convinced? Sure this comes down to personal preference. Spielberg, Scorcese or Tarantino could be top of your list (but if it’s Michael Bay then your opinion is irrelevant) but for me Christopher Nolan ticks all the boxes.
By focusing on live action instead of opting straight for CGI, avoiding 3D, using great actors and ultimately writing his own awesome stories and bringing them to life himself he has proved to be a worthy contender for the greatest Director of our generation.
Where next for Nolan?
Before I sign off I thought I’d drop a few nuggets of awesome for the Nolan fans.
As many of you may know Nolan is currently presiding in an executive producer role for the new Superman film. As the single-handed hero at the helm of DC’s movie revival they won’t be letting him go anywhere soon so expect to see Nolan masterminding the Justice League movie (possibly as a writer/producer).
DC and Warner Brothers are keeping shtum on the details for the Justice League film but if I were a betting man I would wager that they’re going to follow in Marvel’s footsteps and include a cheeky teaser for JL at the end of Man of Steel.
In the meantime I’ll leave you with the latest Man of Steel trailer, which was written by the best Director of our generation.