All 12 Christopher Nolan Movies, Ranked by Rewatchability

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All 12 Christopher Nolan Movies, Ranked by Rewatchability

An acclaimed filmmaker who has overseen billion-dollar movies and earned Academy Award nominations, Christopher Nolan, is one of the most influential and important names in the film industry in the 21st century. A masterful technician with a penchant for practical effects and complex stories, he has made twelve films across his decorated career and often serves as the writer and director of his pictures.



Given the mind-bending nature of many of his stories, not to mention the sheer blockbuster thrill he so frequently provides, Nolan’s films often demand multiple viewing to be comprehensively understood and appreciated. From his stunning superhero exploits to the dramatic heft of some of his more cerebral films, his entire filmography is littered with rewatchable and mesmerizing movies.

12 ‘Following’ (1998)

Image via Momentum Pictures

Running at just 70 minutes long, Following was an incredibly efficient thriller that served as Nolan’s directorial debut. Despite many creative choices being made to restrict budget constraints, it still thrived off the back of its atmosphere, which was brought on by Nolan’s neo-noir inspirations.

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It follows an unemployed writer who starts tailing strangers on the streets of London in search of creative inspiration, only to find himself immersed in a life of crime. It has some eye-catching qualities and boasts Nolan’s appetite for narrative twists, but it is more of interest retrospectively to see the director’s origins more than it is itself an exceptional or rewatchable movie.

11 ‘Tenet’ (2021)

The Protagonist at a military base
Image via Warner Bros. 

A sci-fi espionage thriller with mind-boggling time-travel dynamics centering around the idea of inverted entropy, Tenet was a lot to digest. Essentially a James Bond movie with a huge dose of Nolan’s trademark qualities, it follows an unnamed protagonist who investigates a terrorist using future resources to decimate the modern world.

The film’s ambitious action sequences were a treat to watch, not just for their scale and precision but also for their ingenuity. The plot progression was exciting too, but the lack of character insight — which worked a treat on other Nolan movies – proved to be a fascinating experiment that, unfortunately, didn’t yield the most captivating results.

10 ‘Insomnia’ (2002)

Al Pacino in Insomnia
Image via Warner Bros.

Armed with an insatiable cast, one has to wonder if Insomnia would have gone on to become a cult classic had Nolan himself not exploded to superstardom just a few years later. The psychological crime thriller follows a veteran detective sent to Alaska to investigate the murder of a teenage girl, only to find himself entangled in a war of wits with the prime suspect.

Nolan takes great delight in exploring Dormer’s (Al Pacino) psyche as he is tormented by Robin Williams’ antagonist. Delving deep into moral ambiguity, it is an astute crime movie that features arguably the most underrated performances of both Pacino and Williams’ careers and remains good on rewatch, especially for lovers of the heavy-going genre.

9 ‘Dunkirk’ (2017)

Dunkirk’ (2017) (1)
Image via Warner Bros. Pictures

Christopher Nolan has always been experimental throughout his career, and his war drama Dunkirk features some of his best work in that regard. With three different stories transpiring co-adjacently, Nolan strips down the characters to their absolute barest functions, making them bereft of backstory and simply following them in their actions amid the tumult of war.

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While some did criticize the film for its lack of engaging characters, no one could berate its sheer technical brilliance, with everything from its enthralling visuals to its terrifying sound design earning universal praise. Gliding along at a swift 107-minute runtime, it’s one of the shortest films of Nolan’s career and presents the filmmaker at his absolute technical peak.

8 ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ (2012)

Batman and Bane fighting in The Dark Knight Rises.
Image via Warner Bros. Pictures

The breathtaking conclusion to Nolan’s esteemed Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, concluded the saga with a suitable grandiosity. With Gotham City thriving as the Dent Act keeps criminals in jail, a new threat emerges, wanting to reset the city’s social structure with a radical ideology that prompts Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) to return as Batman.

While it was probably the least resonant film of The Dark Knight Trilogy, it still boasted astonishing action, an engulfing sense of spectacle, and some terrific characters to be a breezy affair that didn’t let its 165-minute runtime go to waste. It also gave Batman himself a satisfying send-off which makes rewatching the entire trilogy an enjoyable experience.

7 ‘Oppenheimer’ (2023)

Cillian Murphy in Oppenheimer.
Image via Universal Pictures

Straying away from the action grandiosity that has seen him thrive throughout his career, Oppenheimer presented as a daring new endeavor for Christopher and has proven to be one he absolutely nailed. Detailing the scientific career and political controversy of J. Robert Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy), it excels as an all-consuming biopic of one of the most important figures of the 20th century.

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The epic drama deftly weaved the triumph of scientific discovery, the treacherous landscape of mid-century American politics, and the horrendous scale of WWII into a scintillating picture that excels off the back of Murphy’s astounding performance. Its confronting subject matter and massive runtime don’t necessarily make it the easiest rewatch, but as a magnificent spectacle, it is easy to foresee sold-out IMAX special screenings of it popping up years and even decades from now.

6 ‘Batman Begins’ (2005)

Christian Bale batman begins
Image via Warner Bros. Pictures

While Nolan was a noteworthy filmmaker through the early 2000s, Batman Begins was undeniably the film that cemented him as one of the industry’s biggest directors. Funnily enough, it wouldn’t be unfair to say the superhero movie has been somewhat overshadowed, but every rewatch of Batman Begins serves as a rousing reminder of its brilliance.

While much of the premise hits the essential tropes for a superhero origin story, Nolan imbues the film with a distinct, gritty tone armed with horror imagery and a more realistic approach to the famous characters. It is also easy to rewatch Batman Begins and suddenly find yourself getting invested in the entire trilogy all over again, and part of that allure is how fantastically it was set up from the very start.

5 ‘Inception’ (2010)

The ensemble cast on Inception standing on a street.
Image via Warner Bros. Pictures

An entrancing dreamscape of cerebral intrigue and blockbuster spectacle, Inception still presents as one of Nolan’s most ambitious and intricate movies. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Cobb, a dream-hacking specialist hired by a Japanese businessman to invade a rival’s mind through his dreams and plant the idea of dissolving his father’s company deep within his subconscious.

Intellectual and entertaining, it became a hit summer blockbuster of 2010, with many moviegoers loving the complex and innovative narrative on offer and the action thrills that came with it. On par with cinematic classics like The Matrix for its weaving of originality, smarts, and spectacle, Inception is an incredibly rewatchable movie, and most viewers even re-wind it a few times to see if they can decipher that enigmatic ending.

4 ‘Memento’ (2000)

Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce) questions someone about a photograph of a car in 'Memento'.
Image via Newmarket

A brain-twisting revenge thriller, Memento became an instant cult hit that was Nolan’s major breakout. It follows Lenny (Guy Pearce), a man seeking vengeance on the criminal who murdered his wife despite his condition, which prevents him from forming new memories.

The bulk of the film unravels in reverse chronological order, getting audiences in the headspace of the amnesiac protagonist and showcasing how he is manipulated by people who are supposedly helping him. While it is one of Nolan’s more disturbing films, its winding narrative means there will always be something new to uncover with repeat viewings.

3 ‘The Prestige’ (2006)

christian bale and hugh jackman talk in the streets in the prestige
Image via Warner Bros. Pictures

Within the grand scope of Christopher Nolan’s career, which produces hit after hit, there’s seldom been occasion to use the word underrated. If there were, however, it would surely relay to The Prestige, an underappreciated gem of revenge thrills and scheming brilliance as it tracks the bitter rivalry between two magicians through the 1890s.

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Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman star as the feuding foes, each trying to outwit the other and venturing to dangerous and even deadly lengths to achieve their goal. Its time-jumping narrative is pure Nolan mastery allowing for plenty of subtle twists and hints, which are a delight to notice through multiple rewatches.

2 ‘Interstellar’ (2014)

Matthew McConaughey in Interstellar
Image via Paramount Pictures

A spellbinding science-fiction epic that finds its beating heart in a touching relationship between a father and his daughter, Interstellar excels as both a vast, intergalactic odyssey and a heartbreaking tale of family love. Set in a future where dwindling resources mean Earth is becoming uninhabitable, it follows a former NASA pilot as he leads an expedition to discover a new home world for humanity.

It features many core Nolan trademarks ranging from mesmerizing visuals to intense action sequences. Its profoundly human story gives it added heft though, weaving the aesthetic grandiosity and intricate character dynamics together to make for a truly special viewing experience no matter how many times it’s rewatched.

1 ‘The Dark Knight’ (2008)

Batman standing over rubble in The Dark Knight (2008)
Image via Warner Bros. Pictures

2023 marks 15 years since the release of The Dark Knight, and it still stands as Nolan’s masterpiece and an unrivaled pinnacle of superhero cinema. Boasting relentless action, outstanding narrative tension, constant momentum, and one of the greatest villains in film history, it ran more as a crime thriller than a superhero blockbuster right up until the action scenes kicked in and made it a heart-stopping sensation.

Set in Gotham City where Batman has beaten organized crime into submission, the city faces a distinctly new threat: the Joker (Heath Ledger), an anarchistic terrorist who wants to break the symbol of Batman. It was the first ever film to be shot in IMAX, and its sense of spectacle remains so unbelievably awe-inspiring that it only seems to improve every time it is revisited.

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