The 10 Best Christopher Nolan Scenes

Dunkirk - Christopher Nolan

This week marks the arrival of the latest film from one of Hollywood’s best and biggest directors, Christopher Nolan. His new film, Dunkirk, is an even bigger event than usual for a couple reasons: first, the entire film was shot in a mix of IMAX and 65mm film, and second, it’s the first time Nolan has made a fictional film based on real events. Dunkirk, being about the infamous Battle of Dunkirk in World War II, is also the first time Nolan has stepped into the war-film genre after years in the world of comic books and science fiction. No doubt Dunkirk will have at least one or two memorable scenes or sequences, but today, I’d like to highlight the 10 best scenes of Nolan’s filmography up to Dunkirk. There are plenty of contenders that didn’t make the cut, especially from The Prestige and The Dark Knight, but let’s get on with the list.

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interstellar movie

(Welcome to The Unpopular Opinion, a series where a writer goes to the defense of a much-maligned film or TV show, or sets their sights on something seemingly beloved by all. In this edition: a defense of Interstellar as one of Christopher Nolan’s greatest movies.)

“If I can fix every detail of this time in my mind, I can keep this moment always.”Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Christopher Nolan makes cold films. At least, that seems to be one of the biggest complaints frequently lobbied against the filmmaker. Film after film, from Memento to Insomnia to The Prestige to the Dark Knight trilogy and beyond, Nolan’s work may be technically proficient and visually dazzling, but some audiences and critics alike come away wondering where the heart is. He’s not a humanist filmmaker the way Steven Spielberg is, but more akin to Stanley Kubrick (before you crucify me for this statement, I’m only comparing Nolan and Kubrick on the emotional front, or lack thereof; this is not a comparison of their directorial abilities).

Yet anyone looking for heart in a Nolan film need look no further than the expansive 2014 epic Interstellar, which may very well be his masterpiece. With Interstellar, Nolan intertwines the grand adventure of a space exploration film with a beating heart. “To me, space exploration represents the absolute extreme of what the human experience is,” Nolan says. “It’s all about trying, in some way, to define what our existence means in terms of the universe. For a filmmaker, the extraordinary nature of a few select individuals pushing the boundaries of where the human species has ever been or can possibly go opens up an infinite set of possibilities. I was excited by the prospect of making a film that would take the audience into that experience through the eyes of those first explorers moving outwards into the galaxy — indeed to a whole other galaxy. … That’s as big a journey as you can imagine trying to tell.”

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Christopher Nolan Netflix

There are a couple of things about Christopher Nolan, the man, that we know with complete certainty that he loves: wearing suits, and the idea of shooting movies on celluloid. After all, he’s part of the group of directors who essentially strong-armed the studios into continuing to purchase actual film so these people can continue using it for their productions. But here’s something the filmmaker doesn’t like: the way Netflix handles their original films.

In a new interview, the director candidly speaks about why he wouldn’t work with Netflix and dings their “mindless policy” of not supporting theatrical distribution. Read the Christopher Nolan Netflix comments below.
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Memento Honest Trailer

With Dunkirk hitting theaters this weekend, everyone is talking about the filmography of director Christopher Nolan. That’s why Screen Junkies has taken aim at the filmmaker’s breakthrough film Memento for their latest edition of Honest Trailers, and they’ve taken a cue from the narrative style of the film to structure their video.

Watch the Memento Honest Trailer down below. Read More »

Christopher Nolan La La Land

Unless it’s Steven Soderbergh publishing his exhaustive lists of all of the media he consumes in a given year, or someone like Quentin Tarantino dropping his always-eclectic annual list of favorite movies, we often don’t get much insight into what working filmmakers spend their free time watching. But thanks to a new interview, we know that Dunkirk director Christopher Nolan spent at least six hours watching Damien Chazelle‘s Hollywood throwback musical La La Land, because he says he saw the film three times in theaters.
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dunkirk review round up

Dunkirk seemed like a strange choice for Christopher Nolan‘s next feature, since he’s a director known for his abstract sci-fi features and clever plot twists. Box office predictors and audiences didn’t know what to make of the war epic about a relatively obscure (to American audiences) World War II evacuation, with some estimating that it would be his lowest-grossing movie in years.

But if the reviews are anything to go by, Dunkirk may be Nolan’s most stunning achievement yet. Dunkirk is being met by some of the most enthusiastic praise of Nolan’s career — and indeed, many critics are calling it the filmmaker’s best movie so far.

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insomnia revisited 1

When we think of director/writer/producer Christopher Nolan and the hallmarks that line any of his films, a few obvious things come to mind. Twisty, complex stories. Taciturn and dour (to the point of humorless) lead characters. Jaw-dropping effects, both practical and computer-generated. Massive action setpieces. There’s little doubt that Nolan’s latest film, Dunkirk, will have a few of these hallmarks present, specifically in regards to special effects and action sequences. Yet even though it’s a straightforward narrative about the infamous Battle of Dunkirk in World War II, Nolan has said the film will be told in three timelines, from the air, land, and sea fronts.

Largely, you have to go back 15 years to find his sole film without tons of the familiar elements that define what we think of as a “Christopher Nolan film.” That film is Insomnia, which remains Nolan’s most underrated film, all the more so because it’s so assured, intense, and remarkable.

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Dunkirk IMAX Featurette - Christopher Nolan

Next week brings Christopher Nolan‘s latest film to theaters in the form of Dunkirk, and you have a wide variety of formats in which you’ll be able to see it. But easily the best way to see the movie will be on the largest IMAX screen possible, because the director shot the film with IMAX large format film cameras, creating a massive, rich image that Nolan describes as something akin to virtual reality without the goggles. If that’s not enough to sell you on the movie, watch the Dunkirk IMAX featurette below for more convincing. Read More »

the dark knight trilogy in 4k

Christopher Nolan‘s acclaimed Dark Knight Trilogy was a testament to the superhero genre, and arguably, cinema in general. The Dark Knight is still widely considered the best Batman film of all time, and a stunning example of what genre movies are capable of — and even influenced how the Academy Awards picked its Best Picture line-up.

Their impact is thanks, in no small part, to Nolan’s adherence to film stock over digital photography. All of Nolan’s films, from The Prestige to Inception, to even Interstellar, have a steadfast, classic quality because of Nolan’s insistence on using 35mm (and sometimes larger) film. But even though he is a traditionalist, Nolan is still open and encouraging of new technologies. You can see it in his embrace of IMAX technology for his action sequences and his newest film Dunkirk. And soon, you can see it in the 4K remaster of his previous films, including The Dark Knight trilogy.

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Cool Posts From Around the Web:

dunkirk reviews

The press junket for Christopher Nolan‘s new film Dunkirk happened over the weekend, and the social media reactions have begun to be revealed on Twitter. What did the first critics to see Nolan’s war movie think? Hit the jump to read the first Dunkirk reviews/reactions.

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