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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westworld dialogue tree

I hope you’ve been enjoying our coverage of HBO’s Westworld half as much as we’ve been enjoying this show. Earlier today I posted our weekly Westworld theory article, if you haven’t checked it out yet, please do — it’s packed with interesting ideas, analysis, and tidbits. But for now, we should get to some news bits we were unable to cover in Westworld Bits. Primarily, how Christopher Nolan‘s Interstellar influenced Westworld, and in particular, a moment in this week’s episode. Also, you can learn about that and also read about a cool Westworld deleted scene which didn’t make it into the show which gives us a deeper look at Doctor Ford’s backstory.

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Gabriel Hardman interview

In 1993, at only 19 years old, an aspiring comic book artist named Gabriel Hardman got what appeared to be a big break: the chance to pencil Marvel’s War Machine. But not long after completing the assignment, Hardman chose to ditch comics, move to Hollywood and try to make it as a storyboard artist.

By any measure of success, there’s no doubt that Hardman “made it.” Over the next two decades, he worked on a variety of beloved and/or critically acclaimed projects; ranging from Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997) to Interstellar (2014). But at the same time, while on that upward trajectory, he storyboarded a handful famous flops. Including three films which have been the focus of How Did This Get Made? episodes: Wild Wild West, Spider-Man 3 and Green Lantern.

Interestingly enough, it took a frustrating experience on one of those three films to lead Hardman back to the career he had previously left. And, since then, he has regularly toggled between working in comics (such as Invisible Republic and Heathentown) and working on films (such as Inception and The Dark Knight Rises). To learn more about this unexpected journey, we spoke with Gabriel Hardman about some of the ups and downs in his career.

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colin trevorrow talks star wars episode 9

Colin Trevorrow is gearing up to direct the ninth installment of Star Wars, and he wants to shoot the movie using film, not digital, cameras. The Jurassic World filmmaker also has been investigating if Star Wars: Episode 9 could be the first narrative feature film to actually shoot in outer space, for real. Hit the jump to learn more about the Star Wars 9 film plans.

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What Are the Most Pirated Movies of 2015?

Furious 7

Generally speaking, studios, filmmakers, and stars are happy to see their films land on awards shortlists or critics’ top 10s. But then there are the lists they’d probably rather not be on, like this one of the most pirated movies of 2015.

To be sure, most of these movies did just fine even without the pirates’ box-office dollars. This year’s #2, Furious 7, was a favorite of pirates basically from the moment it opened, and it still managed to set records. (Records which were later broken by Jurassic World and then Star Wars, but never mind that.) Still, it’s gotta be annoying to think of all the money they didn’t make because some people didn’t feel like paying. Especially since a couple of these titles could’ve used that extra boost. Find out what the most pirated movies of 2015 are after the jump.

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Matt Damon in The Martian

Over the last two decades, Hollywood has saved Matt Damon from a variety of precarious situations, from an exhaustive European search during World War II (Saving Private Ryan) to his most recent rescue mission from Mars (The Martian). How much money did it cost to save Matt Damon’s characters in movies? Find out after the jump.

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The Top Rated Movies of the Last 25 Years on IMDB

100 Greatest American Films

The Internet Movie Database is now 25 years old. When IMDB first began, it was a downloadable database software on the earliest version of the internet, but now it’s much bigger than that. The Internet Movie Database has a quarter of a billion customers, and some of those users spend their time rating movies on the site. Find out what the top rated movies of the last 25 years are after the jump.

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aspect ratio video essay

We’ve previously featured a video essay that dove into the history of aspect ratios in cinema and how they’ve changed in the relatively short history of filmmaking. But beyond the technical changes and differences, varying aspect ratios are now used to not only change the aesthetic of any given film, or even a specific scene or sequence, but to also create a different emotional effect within the viewer.

A new aspect ratio video essay takes a look at some of the different thematic effects that come from changes in aspect ratio, illustrating how they are used to invoke certain feelings or perspectives. This ranges from transporting viewers back in time to a more old fashioned way of life in The Grand Budapest Hotel to glamorizing a memory in (500) Days of Summer to giving an epic scope to action happening on screen in Interstellar. Read More »

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Interstellar Tesseract

Even though Christopher Nolan‘s sci-fi drama Interstellar ended up being a fairly divisive piece of cinema last year, it’s hard to deny that the film still left an impression on people. And while we can nitpick the story until we’re blue in the face, one element I think we can all take the time to appreciate is the abundance of practical effects used.

Miniatures and large sets were used surprisingly frequently with digital effects only being used to enhance what Nolan physically shot with a camera. And this is even more impressive when you take a look at how practical and visual effects combined to create what Nolan calls the “Tesseract,” which is the spatial plane where Matthew McConaughey can see across time and dimensions.

Watch the featurette on the Interstellar Tesseract after the jump! Read More »