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The 20 Best Christopher Nolan Movie Moments

30 July 2013 | Features, Other Lists | by David Zou

best nolan movie moments

Today marks British director Christopher Nolan’s 43rd birthday. At such young age(for a director), Nolan already made masterpieces like Memento, The Prestige, The Dark Knight, Inception, his movies have grossed approximately $4.1 billion worldwide, which made him one of the most successful Hollywood director working today.

In 1998, Nolan made his debut “Following”, a black-and-white independence film which was shot by a handheld camera. From the very beginning of his career, Nolan showed his unique talent for storytelling. After that he made one of the most important independent films in the 2000s – “Memento”, and remade the classic Swedish thriller “Insomnia”. In 2005, Nolan started one of the greatest comic-book movie reboot in history, his new Batman trilogy, especially The Dark Knight, set the bar a little too high for all superhero movies afterwards. The two movies made between the trilogy, “The Prestige” and “Inception” are considered the most complex and the most imaginative movie in recent times.

Nolan has been described as “one of the most innovative storytellers and image makers at work in movies today”. Let’s take a look back at the 20 most memorable moments in his movies.


20. Precursor


The Film: Following (1998)

The Moment: Following’s protagonist (known only as The Young Man) sports a Batman sticker on his bedroom door. Coincidence? We think not…

Only In The Nolan-Verse: Following, Nolan’s first cinematic release, is a tightly plotted thriller that’s well worth seeking out on DVD. As for the Batman reference, yes of course we know its an accident, but it’s the sort of thing that sets our geek senses a-tingling, so we thought we’d include it anyway!


19. Pacino Investigates


The Film: Insomnia (2002)

The Moment: Detective Dormer turns the full force of his icy detachment on teenage murder suspect Randy, telling him that his “fuck the world attitude might work with your momma… but it ain’t gonna work with me.”

Only In The Nolan-Verse: Under the influence of a lesser director, Pacino might have lurched into full-on hoo-ha mode in this interrogation scene. Instead, he turns in a masterclass in controlled aggression.


18. Greetings Card


The Film: Batman Begins (2005)

The Moment: Lieutenant Gordon presents Batman with his next case at the end of Batman Begins: “Take this guy: armed robbery, double homicide. Got a taste for the theatrical, like you. Leaves a calling card.” It is, of course, a joker.

Only In The Nolan-Verse: Nolan signs off with a flourish designed to send the fanboys in the audience (and everybody else, to be fair) into raptures. As one eagle-eyed reader pointed out when this appeared in our recent Batman feature, the name of the officer who recovered the card from the scene is one J. Kerr…


17. The Kicks


The Film: Inception (2010)

The Moment: The film’s climactic dream-sequence comes to a close as a series of kicks are triggered to bring Cobb’s team back into consciousness.

Only In The Nolan-Verse: Having pushed the audience’s powers of concentration to the max, Nolan grabs all his various strings together and neatly recaps the various levels of consciousness each team member is working at in just over two minutes. Masterful stuff.

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  • John Ken

    Nice list, awesome director.

  • Matt Zimmermann

    Just an added note about The Prestige ending…my interpretation is that the clone is created in the alternate location, and it is the Angiers that steps onto stage that is drowned, so in essence he is killing himself every night in order to have his revenge against Borden.
    Anyway, great list….hard to just pick 20 ;)