…so how about taking a look at, and ranking, all 10 of director Christopher Nolan’s films?
This list, presented on Slate.com and written by Bilge Ebiri, offers a look at all his films, including Dunkirk, and ranks them:
In case you’re curious (and, what the hell, even if you’re not), I’d probably still put Memento as Christopher Nolan’s best film. Though low budget, it was an absolutely incredible bit of daring film making, giving us a story presented in chunks and going backwards in time.
Incredibly, there is a big payoff at the very end and, even more incredibly, if you have the DVD and/or BluRay that allows you to play the film in “normal” time, it works just as well!
As for most disappointing Christopher Nolan film… that would have to be Insomnia, which Mr. Ebiri also ranks rather low, giving it the #9 slot (I would put it at #10, frankly).
Here’s the thing about Insomnia: Mr. Nolan’s 2002 film was a remake of a 1997 Norwegian film featuring the same title which, IMHO, was so much better.
The plot of Insomnia is that a somewhat corrupt cop accidentally -or could it have been on purpose?- shoots and kills his partner while chasing a killer in the fog. We learn that our corrupt cop is about to have a hearing before the board and that his partner, the man he killed, may well have been about to testify against him.
The case they are involved in lies in a distant city in the Arctic and there, daytime light lasts for weeks. Our “hero”, whom audiences can’t quite know if he’s actually good or not, is affected by the constant light and can’t sleep all while trying to solve the vicious crime and keep an eye out on his superiors… who may be about to drop the hammer on him.
The original film, which featured an unknown cast (though lead actor Stellan Skarsgård has since become a better known fixture in American films), worked because of that fact. We were never sure of just how “good” or “bad” our protagonist was.
In the Christopher Nolan remake, the lead character is played by Al Pacino and, unfortunately, right away we know he’s a somewhat bad man who is trying to redeem himself from the grime of his life.
With the bigger names in the roles, we unfortunately know too much about the characters and their motivations and, therefore, already have an idea of where things are going, which we didn’t in the original film.
Yes, the remake had a big, powerhouse cast. But this may well have been a case where having bigger names meant we knew the film wouldn’t take too many chances and, indeed, it did not.
Christopher Nolan’s Insomnia isn’t a “terrible” film, by the way. I don’t think any of Mr. Nolan’s films are mediocre, much less “bad”. But when compared to some of his other works, it simply doesn’t measure up to them.
All in my humble opinion, of course!