Without question, Christopher Nolan is one of the world’s most popular, and successful, directors. His films consistently receive universal acclaim, and his name draws stars such as Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and even Harry Styles to feature in his work. And with his newest effort, World War Two thriller Dunkirk, currently in cinemas, there’s no better time than now to take a look at the Nolan films that set the worldwide box office alight.
#9 – Memento (2000)
Starring Guy Pearce as an amnesiac trying to understand the circumstances of his wife’s death, Memento was the movie that propelled Nolan to notoriety, collecting two Academy Award nominations and ranking 25th on the BBC’s 100 Greatest Films of the 21st Century. A notable step-up in terms of box-office gross from his 1998 debut, Following, (which earned just $240,500) Memento raked in $39.7 million across all territories.
#8 – The Prestige (2006)
Marking Nolan’s second collaboration with Christian Bale, The Prestige also starred Hugh Jackman, with him and Bale playing competing magicians in 19th-century England. Packed with the plot twists that have now become synonymous with Nolan, The Prestige didn’t gross as much as 2005’s Batman Begins, but still raked in a respectable $109.7 million against its reasonable $40 million budget.
#7 – Insomnia (2002)
Coming two years after Memento, this is the only film in Nolan’s repertoire that he doesn’t have a writing credit for, instead focusing solely on directing duty. A remake of the 1997 Norwegian police flick starring Stellan Skarsgard, Insomnia starred Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Hilary Swank. And like the original, Insomnia was met with critical acclaim, while also grossing $113.7 million in the process.
#6 – Dunkirk (2017)
Nolan’s latest release, Dunkirk portrays the 1940 battle in a way not shown before – focusing on the event, with characters not being the forefront of the plot. In many ways, Dunkirk was Nolan’s biggest risk – it’s less plot-heavy than his usual fare and doesn’t feature as many of his usual cast members, but has still attained a stunning 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, and has so far grossed $363.7 million against its $100 million budget – and it’s still going strong.
#5 – Batman Begins (2005)
If Memento introduced film fans to Nolan, it was Batman Begins that introduced everyone to Nolan. His rebooted vision for Batman starred Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne, alongside an ensemble cast including Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman. Many believe Begins ushered in a new era of darker 21st-century superhero films, and if its $372.7 million gross proves anything, it’s that the people were ready for a more grounded superhero flick.
#4 – Interstellar (2014)
Possibly Nolan’s most left-field effort, Interstellar stars the newly-revitalised Matthew McConaughey as Cooper, a former astronaut forced back into service to help secure the future of a decrepit Earth. Although its plot was criticised, being labelled as weaker and less tight than his usual fare, Interstellar was a visual masterpiece, proving how far CGI had come, and as such won the Oscar for Best Visual Effects, also grossing $675.1 million worldwide.
#3 – Inception (2010)
Upon its release, Inception left audiences stunned, telling a layered and fascinating story paired with groundbreaking visual effects – a truly all-encompassing experience. With Leonardo DiCaprio playing Cobb, a thief who plants thoughts in the dreams of his victims, Inception changed how action was portrayed on-screen, and how film trailers were constructed, while also winning four Oscars – without mentioning its $825.5 million worldwide gross.
#2 – The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
The follow-up to The Dark Knight was always going to reach fever-pitch levels of public anticipation, employing a previously-unseen level of viral marketing, and releasing record-breaking teaser trailers. Although Rises didn’t quite live up to the expectations of audiences, with Batman going toe-to-toe with Tom Hardy’s Bane for one final outing, it was still positively received, and demolished the box office, raking in $1 billion.
#1 – The Dark Knight (2008)
Arguably Nolan’s best-known and most popular film, and one of the most warmly-received movies of this century, The Dark Knight changed the superhero genre, introducing a chilling, Oscar-winning villain in Heath Ledger’s Joker, and combining a crime-thriller plot with action scenes synonymous with comic-book movies. Deserving of such acclaim, it won two Oscars and pulled in $1.084 billion worldwide – making its $185 million budget go a long way.
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