For the sake of being different, I’m not going to give the win to Ledger’s Joker. Instead, I want to highlight Anne Hathaway’s performance as Catwoman because it’s legitimately one of the most exciting performances in any superhero film. This is an inspired casting choice in the same way Heath Ledger’s Joker was. At face value, it’s a bizarre casting choice, but Anne Hathaway embodies Catwoman’s intelligence, manipulativeness, and sexiness and makes for a delightful femme fatale. It’s an entirely different interpretation when compared to Tim Burton’s Catwoman, but Anne Hathaway really knew how to hook into the character while staying true to Catwoman’s comic book origins.


This one was a little tough because I love Christian Bale, but the performance that Guy Pearce gives as Leonard Shelby is still the best lead performance in Nolan’s filmography. Guy Pearce knows how to draw sympathy for the character, but because of the character’s memory loss, we only know as much information as Leonard does so you’re always questioning whether what he’s telling us is true or not. Much like most of Nolan’s protagonists, Leonard’s smart, organized, and at times vulnerable, but what makes him stand out amongst Nolan’s other protagonists, is that there’s something much more sinister and violent beneath his frail exterior.


The Dark Knight showed me the importance of cinematography to establish mood and setting and it continues to be the template by which I judge every other film’s cinematography. Nolan’s ambitions with The Dark Knight weren’t only reflected within the script, but the collaboration between him and cinematographer Wally Pfister helped to prove that even superhero films could be used for artistic expression. The cinematography isn’t just used to show off the spectacle, but it’s also used to establish the emotions of the characters. From Joker’s mania to Batman’s reserved rage, the cinematography balances each character’s point of view seamlessly.


Inception was Nolan’s passion project, but Dunkirk has Nolan rely on the basic elements of filmmaking to craft a war film that effectively keeps you on edge from beginning to end. The cinematography, score, and script are all in sync and work to establish the tension, urgency, and terror of the events at Dunkirk. This movie is a rollercoaster ride and a cinematic experience I hadn’t seen since Mad Max: Fury Road. It never takes a moment to slow down to let the audience catch up with characters or unnatural exposition; instead, the actions onscreen present all the information required and despite not having a clear protagonist, Dunkirk still has you rooting for everyone to make it out alive.


The Prestige might not be Nolan’s biggest film, but it might be his most accomplished film. It’s a sprawling tale of competition, obsession, and sacrifice that never loses itself with spectacle over character. I know I gave the “Best Actor” award to Guy Pearce, but the runners up were between Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman; these two are Nolan characters done to absolute perfection. Both are professional magicians driven by this obsession to Best the other and it comes at the cost of the lives of those around them. While Nolan’s proceeding films would come across as emotionally distant, The Prestige favors its characters over spectacle. Even after you’ve seen the ending, you’ll constantly be finding little clues left behind on further rewatches. The Prestige is Nolan’s best film not because of how big it can go, but because of how personal it goes with its characters and the layers that Nolan and his cast in crew left behind for the audience to discover.

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