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How Would You Rank The Christopher Nolan Films?

nolan

This past week, there’s been the usual discussion between Nolan nerds over how his latest film, Dunkirk, fits in with the rest of his work. I normally stay out of these ranking conversations because my rule of thumb with Nolan is that his movies take time to process and analyze, for better or worse. Sometimes, his movies seem better on the second watch or months later. Sometimes, they’re worse. I doubt Dunkirk will be any different, either way.

Go on…How Would You Rank The Christopher Nolan Films?

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Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dunkirk’ Is More Survival Epic Than War Movie

dunkirk

Dunkirk was written and directed by Christopher Nolan and is his most recent film since Interstellar. Nolan has tackled a variety of genres to mostly great success; heists, magicians, space, and even comic books. But how does the blockbuster artist fare with historical war fiction?

Most war movies tend to be action movies. Many of the best ones go beyond the typical violence and bloodshed to delve deeper into psychological thriller territory, while others spend their first hour unfortunately delving into needless romantic subplots and love triangles (ahem).

Go on…Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dunkirk’ Is More Survival Epic Than War Movie

Unopinionated: ‘Inception’ is Leonardo DiCaprio’s Best Movie

inception best movie leonardo dicaprio

At the 88th Academy Awards, Leonardo DiCaprio won his first Oscar for Best Actor. Sadly, he received the long-awaited award for the wrong film.

I’ve written in length about how The Revenant is an achievement in little beyond the uncompromising vision of cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki. And DiCaprio has deserved this award for superior films, which include Catch Me If You CanThe AviatorInception, and The Wolf of Wall Street.

(I leave out The Departed only because that film, while mostly flawless, lacks a clear lead actor who carries the film.)

We can have a lengthy debate about which of these films are his best, but for the sake of time, I’ll submit that Inception is the clear standout.

Warning: mild spoilers follow for Inception.

Directed by Christopher Nolan, Inception is successful for bringing high-minded ideas to a movie big enough for the big screen. Taking place in a dreamscape where anything can happen, the movie has a unique restraint that is tossed aside at enough moments to make us yearn for it (the line “Dream bigger” uttered by Tom Hardy comes to mind).

inception best movie leonardo dicaprio

The set up for Inception is a slow build, as Nolan masterfully placed thrilling set pieces in a conceivable order that could come tumbling down for an ultimately satisfying final act. Only to finish the movie with a cliffhanger that begs every viewer of the movie to lend their take on what actually took place.

What enticed viewers about Inception in the first place was the promise that they’d see a unique sci-fi heist on par with accessible movies like Ocean’s 11. Yet audiences left feeling more challenged than anticipated, rivaled in part by the philosophical ripple effect The Matrix had on popular culture in 1999.

For that reason, Inception is one of those rare event movies that can be embraced by all matter of movie fans. Lovers of action and spectacle got their fill. Auteurs craving a brilliant performance received DiCaprio and Cotillard’s rush of a tragic romance, and over thinkers (such as myself) were allowed to pick apart the realities of a brand new world with fresh possibilities.

inception best movie leonardo dicaprio

For DiCaprio, Inception is one of his best performances, as he juggles his immoral occupation as a metaphysical master thief with the sympathetic yearning of a dreamer separated from his children. The audience, characterized beautifully by Ellen Paige, is able to uncover DiCaprio’s moral quandaries within the backdrop of the only environments where the actor’s motivations would make clear sense, trading flashbacks for interactive memories.

What makes his character (Cobb) shine is his parallel battle with the rational and irrational, which comes to a head by the final act. Cobb thinks quickly and lives by the logic that has helped him survive fugitive life, but he’s just as vulnerable to the emotional impulses (plagued by his inner ghosts and demons) that undermine every plan he makes.

Much like the gaping businessmen Cobb is infiltrating for hidden secrets, Cobb himself is more or less a character we’re unwrapping as well, and the idea that he must let go of his wife is where the movie’s grandest inception actually takes place, begging the question: could Cobb have really been dreaming the entire time? The answer is up to whoever is asking the question.

(I unpack this entire exercise in length via my What You Missed About Inception article from 2013).

Inception is imaginative, massively entertaining, and hard to stop talking about. It has the dialogue of a visionary who spent a decade writing the script, characters who make the audience feel intelligent and moronic all at once, and an ending that is likely impossible to spoil in a few sentences. It’s a wholly original work of art that is harder to browse for imperfections than nearly anything else, and it is the best film yet of Leo’s career.

Grade: A+


 

Do you have an unpopular opinion you want challenged? Let me know and I’ll take it on in a future Unopinionated article.

I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni

Maybe There’s a Hidden Story Behind All Of Christopher Nolan’s Films After All

Interstellar hidden story

If you’ve been keeping up with my latest ramblings, then you know that I wasn’t the biggest fan of Interstellar, despite my feverish love of Nolan’s past work. And I’ve never considered much about the underlying themes or connections between his movies. Until now.

No, this isn’t like a “shared universe” theory. No one has time for that. This is something better.

Akshay Seth | The Michigan Daily

And I realized something. The film’s final act, like its labyrinthine middle, rushed start or organ-blasting score, isn’t meant to inspire. Because this film is a farce. It is Nolan’s letter to Flora, his daughter. Stretched to the grandest scales, this movie is his most withering self-critique. Here’s why.

I think Akshay’s on to something. And after reading through his admittedly long arguments, I’m a believer.

If anyone’s capable of doing something like this across multiple movies over 16 years, it’s Christopher Nolan.

Why Inception Is One of the Best Movies of Our Generation

 

 

inception

What You Missed About Inception:

For me, a truly great film isn’t really like a masterpiece. A masterpiece, after all, is more about critical praise and the apex of one’s career. Inception is great in a different way. It’s just smart. It didn’t receive universal, critical praise (though it got some) because it completely went over the heads of almost everyone.

For all of you who think you “get” the movie, I sincerely doubt that more than a handful actually caught everything that was going on in the story.

Here’s a test to see if you did: do you think the ending was a cliffhanger? Because if you did, you are dead wrong.

With Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar coming out this week, I thought it would be fun to revisit one of the first fan theories I ever wrote. I wrote this piece about Inception and it’s myriad secrets back in 2013, and I’m still finding more reasons for why it’s one of the best films, period. And why most people don’t seem to fully grasp how important it was.

Check it out here in case you haven’t had a chance to read it.

Inside the Incredible Mind of Christopher Nolan.

christopher nolan

Gideon Lewis-Kraus | The Exacting, Expansive Mind of Christopher Nolan:

Nolan’s movies are often about people doing their best to get back in touch with consensus reality — against our tendency to be swept away by delusion (“Inception”) or demagogy (“The Dark Knight Rises”) — so it feels organic, rather than gimmicky, that they would periodically gesture toward their own stagy conceits. 

“Interstellar” regrets the diminished ambitions of the space age, but it also regrets the diminished ambitions of the same age in cinema — the art form that, for the moment at least, reaches the most disparate people in the most far-flung places. “Interstellar” is about the recovery, in the greatest mass medium, of hope and drive and intelligence, about the very promise of a robust, elevating middlebrow. Perhaps all Nolan does, as one of his critics has put it, is “invest grandeur and novelty into conventional themes.” But at interstellar scale, that’s good enough.

This is quite easily the best, most complete analysis I’ve ever read about Christopher Nolan, who is rapidly becoming the next generation’s Spielberg. I highly suggest you give it a read, especially with Nolan’s Interstellar only being a week away (of which I’ve heard remarkably good things).

One highlight from Gideon’s piece is that Nolan’s last three movies have a place in the top 100 movies of all time (in box office sales). And eight of his fourteen films have accrued over $3 billion. And that’s without making movies about transforming robots.

6 TV Shows & Movies That Would Make Incredible Video Games

Listen, I love movies. I also love television. They’re fantastic mediums that provide the world with a seemingly endless supply of great entertainment. But the real potential is in the world of video games. The world of truly interactive entertainment.

The main difference between these three mediums is the fact that video games haven’t been around quite as long. They have immense room to grow, even as the way we experience games continues to shift toward the smart phone in contrast to the blockbuster console.

That said, too many websites and smart discussions decide to talk about how “cool” it would be for so-and-so video game to become a movie. And I get that. I’ve talked before about how great it would be to see more of the Mass Effect universe on the big screen (though it would likely fail if it centered around Commander Shepard).

But for whatever reason, people default to a supposed need for making a movie out of something we already enjoy as gamers. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? I think so. Here are a few of the best examples I can think of (for now):

[Note: I’m excluding the topic of licensed games from this discussion. No one likes them. We already know why. Let’s just not talk about it.]

 

6. Inception

inception video game

The idea of translating the Christopher Nolan “dream-within-a-dream” universe seems like a natural step forward for an indicate, complex plot that almost demands user interaction.

Exotic locations that are tied to one narrative structure without feeling forced? Check. Varied combat that is put on its head by gravity-bending mechanics related to other plot points within the story? Got it. Compelling characters working together via a heist mode that is both unexplored and familiar at the same time? Hey, Grand Theft Auto 5 already showed us how to do it.

I’m not a gaming insider by any stretch of the imagination, so I’m completely unaware if someone out there is already working to make this happen. If so, then they have my support.

 

5. Avatar: The Last Airbender

avatar video game

Yes, ATLA already has a trilogy of video games based on the popular TV series. They were nothing special, to be clear, and I think it would be a waste of time and money to retread that story, or even the sequel series, Legend of Korra.

No, the real potential lies in Wan, who is the first Avatar. Revealed in a special two-part event during Book 2 of LOK, Wan’s story is one that takes place in a world that is reminiscent of Miyazaki (intentionally), and his journey to becoming the first Avatar completely lends itself to the structure of storytelling we see in gaming. Wan learns each of the elements by traveling the Spirit World and grows stronger as he realizes his destiny. Perfect.

Of course, that’s just one rabbit hole for a game developer to go down. Thanks to ATLA’s attention to world-building and beautiful combat (a weird combination of words, but totally accurate), crafting a video game that is both creative and fun to play would be a cakewalk if taken seriously.

 

4. Firefly

firefly video game

I’m not even sure why this infamous cult-classic hasn’t already been transformed into a video game, but here we are. I suspect that the idea has been tossed around quite a bit already in the right board rooms.

Many would agree that this Joss Whedon-built space western has the depth and real estate to give gamers a fun tour of what lies beyond Alliance Control. Sadly, I doubt it would work to bring back the original cast for a continuation of the short-lived TV Show and its subsequent movie, but a good team of writers could easily breathe new life into the franchise through video games.

 

3. Game of Thrones

game of thrones video game

Can I just say it? We’re sick of Lord of the Rings as the go-to franchise for medieval mayhem (OK, that’s an exaggeration). One world we’ve yet to see play out in video games is the 7 Kingdoms of Westeros.

[Note: there’s a licensed Game of Thrones already. And it sucks. We want the real deal.]

Of course, there are two options. You could either develop an open world game a la Skyrim that tells a brand-new story within George R.R. Martin’s carefully crafted world of dragons and others, or you could do what the show has done – but with more faithfulness to the source material.

If you’re unaware, the HBO series known as “Game of Thrones” (which is based on the series of novels by Martin called A Song of Ice and Fire) is only loosely based on its source material. It makes for great television, but the expanded possibilities of side quests and drawn out storytelling could bring the world of Westeros into a full picture of what it’s meant to be.

 

2. Pacific Rim

pacific rim video game
This is another movie on this list that has already had the video game treatment attempted. And again. It sucked.

But a Pacific Rim video game that was conceived and executed from the ground up? One that was built to be a self-contained world with blockbuster graphics? That could definitely work, and it would be a great way to tell the story of the first battles between the Kaijus and the Jaegers. A story that was only briefly explained in expository dialogue.

Also, giant robots.

 

1. The Mask of Zorro

mask of zorro video game

I’m not putting this as #1 because it is objectively the best idea on this list (truthfully, I didn’t order these by which would be “best”).

No, I’m putting this as #1 because I am a well-known fanboy of anything “Zorro.” And yes, The Mask of Zorro is my favorite film of all time. Judge away.

But I believe a video game centering around the Fox would make for some great entertainment, regardless of my bias. Assassin’s Creed has already shown us how impactful and thrilling it can be to sword-fight our way through fully realized historical settings.

Though Zorro the character isn’t based on real history, careful attention to the setting (California, or Spain if the game would be based on the novels, instead) and rich echelon of characters that made the film great would translate beautifully to interactive storytelling.

Plus, with two new Zorro films planned to release in the coming years, the Zorro hype is about to reach its hype. Take notes game developers!

 

Honorable mentions (because opinions)

  • Bladerunner – bringing this up is basically required.
  • District 9 – but with more of what we saw in the third act.
  • Almost Human – overblown TV show, but great candidate for gaming.
  • Elysium – see District 9.
  • In Time – I can’t be the only person who liked this movie.
  • Hunger Games – prequel anyone?
  • Peter Pan – Neverland deserves the open-world treatment.

Yes, I know I didn’t get to the wealth of other examples. If you think of any ideas, sound off in the comments!

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