Back in 2014, upon the release of Christopher Nolan’s ninth film Interstellar, we decided to stack up his ouevre to date and, as we who write about movies on the Internet are wont to do, rank it. As with most things Nolan-related, it was divisive! Well, now there’s a new Nolan feature in the world, the WWII epic Dunkirk, and thus it’s time to revisit this career appraisal, and adjust accordingly. Confession: while not quite a full-on Nolanite, I am a fan who values the filmmaker’s place as a rare purveyor of mainstream, blockbuster entertainments that are also thoughtful, provocative, and built to last. Here’s how they stack up, to my eyes (and, probably, mine alone):
Nolan’s slender (70 minutes), low-budget ($6,000, legend has it) debut feature was greeted with warm reviews and was subsequently given the Criterion treatment. But most importantly, it gave the filmmaker his start, and served as a viable demo reel for Memento. So does the movie itself hold up? Eh, not really. Nolan makes ingenious use of his limited budget and shows an early flair for inventive plotting and mood, but taken on its own terms, it’s mostly a forgettable piece of work. Still, everybody starts somewhere, and as debut pictures go, you could do a helluva lot worse.