6 movies that prove there’s no one like Nolan
Moviemaker Christopher Nolan is a master at his craft. He takes actors who’re seemingly out of place and gives them the tools and space to develop a character and tell a story that enthrals and captivates, draws in and entertains – and he keeps you on the edge of your seat along the way thanks to his knack for non-linear storytelling.
Before we start: want some behind-the-scenes secrets to how some of the most extravagant moments of his movies were made? Watch the video below. (Our favourite take-away? The airplane crash in Tenet is 100% real – Nolan realised that it would be cheaper for the crew to crash a real-life, fully fledged 747 than to create the scene using miniatures!)
Now, here are some of the most brilliant Chris Nolan films to stream on Showmax.
Leonardo DiCaprio plays Dom Cobb, a thief with a difference, in this psychological thrill ride. Instead of stealing physical assets, Dom sneaks into people’s minds and steals valuable business secrets to be sold to the highest bidder. He’s trying to earn enough money to get back to his family secretly, having been on the run for his crimes for years. Then Dom is made an offer he can’t refuse – not only enough money to pay his debts, but also a direct route to his family and without the fear of being arrested. There’s just one snag in this sci-fi movie: instead of stealing secrets, Dom’s new job is to plant a secret into someone’s mind – aka Inception.
The possibilities are terrifying if either of Dom’s jobs ever becomes reality, stealing from the mind or putting ideas into someone’s mind. The acting is top class, and to this day, moviegoers still aren’t sure of the ending and what happened; a true sign of Christopher Nolan’s ability to keep people thinking.
Did you know?
- Christopher rewrote the script with his lead star Leo DiCaprio for four months after Leo was cast, calling it “an invaluable process”.
The future of mankind may rest on the shoulders of astronauts and getting to other planets or galaxies. Yet the technology doesn’t exist yet, giving Chris the ability to tell a new-style story of adventures through space. Matthew McConaughey plays Cooper, the lead astronaut on a scientific space team who’re sent through a wormhole to find a new home for mankind. It’s not just about the astro team, though – the movie shows what their families are going through back on Earth, waiting for their return.
It’s heart-breaking, heart wrenching, and possibly a glimpse at just how far mankind will need to go when we’ve destroyed Earth one day. Throw in amazing CGI special effects and a brilliant screenplay and you’ve got the space ride of your life.
Did you know?
- Christopher Nolan consulted real-life Theoretical Physicist Dr Kip Thorne to be scientifically accurate and use only possible and plausible scientific fact in the movie. Any idea from Chris’s team that would violate established physical laws were immediately thrown out.
- It won the Oscar for Best Achievement in Visual Effects.
- Listen carefully for the ticking sound – it happens every 1.25 seconds and represents a full Earth day passing. While the astronauts are gone for four years in the movie, more than 70 years pass by on Earth.
Christopher Nolan loves a little time-travel story with action thrown in. In this movie, the Protagonist (John David Washington) is an elite soldier scooped up for an above-top-secret CIA division who are involved in time-travel policing. With his Handler (Robert Pattinson), the Protagonist is sent on classified missions that involve sneaking around, high-powered firearms and espionage that could see high-profile VIPs having their worlds ruined if their secrets be exposed.
But as the Protagonist and his Handler continue their training, they discover their true mission: to stop a Russian oligarch from starting World War III, which will all but destroy the planet. Their only tools for stopping the all-out battle is a specialised bullet that breaks the laws of time travel and gives them the ability to hop between dimensions.
The two lead stars may not seem like the typical action or sci-fi pair, but under Chris’s guiding hand (and with his script in hand), John and Robert are perfect for their roles. The science is also believable to an extent, with brilliant action work and stunts, as well as CGI special effects giving life to this time-travelling action movie.
The Dark Knight Trilogy
Batman Begins (2005)
Batman movies have never followed this character’s creation and evolution, which is exactly what Chris envisioned when he cast Christian Bale in the lead role as troubled Bruce Wayne. It’s a tale of a young man fuelled by hate and revenge, but there’s more as young Bruce goes from spoilt-brat orphan to crime-fighting caped crusader and saviour of Gotham.
Having fled his city in search of his true self, Bruce falls in with the League of Shadows, a vigilante group who hide their truth from him while training him in their centuries-old ways, which includes ninjitsu, deception and misdirection. When Bruce is ready, he returns to Gotham and reunites with his trusty butler Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine), his childhood friend-turned-city lawyer Rachel Dawes (Katie Holmes), future police commissioner Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and Wayne Enterprises genius Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) as he transforms into Batman.
First on his agenda is saving Gotham and her people from mobster Carmine Falcone (Tom Wilkinson), criminal genius Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy) and his teacher from the League of Shadows, Ra’s Al Ghul (Liam Neeson).
As a movie, it’s great. There’s action, there’s gadgets, there’s plot, and screenplay that tell a masterful story. As a Batman movie, it sets the tone for not only the trilogy but all future Batmans, regardless of the incarnation.
Did you know?
- Christopher Nolan refused to have a second filming unit to do reshoots or secondary shoots – he oversaw every single scene during the 129-day filming schedule.
The Dark Knight (2008)
The second Dark Knight movie is arguably the most famous because it not only pits Batman against his arch nemesis The Joker, it’s also the most iconic Joker portrayal thanks to the late Heath Ledger. Instead of a comical buffoon running around with cheap clown tricks, Heath’s version of the Clown Prince of Darkness is vicious, calculating, brutal and psychopathic. He revels in carnage, he thrives on disorder, and most of all, he craves pushing Batman to his limits.
The Joker make-up was created by Heath himself and Christopher calls it a privilege to let the actor create Batman’s adversary: “We watched him develop the wardrobe and the makeup, and I kind of got to be a part of that creative process, which was great fun, but on-set, there were always moments like that clapping scene or things he would do with his voice. You never knew what that guy was going to do, and that’s what was terrifying about him.”
It’s not just The Joker that Batman must deal with – Gotham District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) goes from upstanding politician to crazed villain Two Face when his girlfriend Rachel (now played by Maggie Gyllenhaal) is killed by The Joker in a mind game with Batman. The twist comes at the end, when Batman is forced to accept his changing position in Gotham and the true sacrifice he is forced to make in this very special two-time Oscar-winning movie.
Did you know?
- Heath Ledger won the Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor In A Supporting Role as Joker. He is the only actor to have ever won this award posthumously.
- Michael Caine had lines for when The Joker gatecrashes the dinner party but he was so terrified by Heath’s version that he forgot his lines and stood helplessly.
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
The final movie in the trilogy is set eight years down the line and Batman has all but disappeared as Gotham no longer needs him. But a vicious new enemy arrives – the masked man known as Bane (Tom Hardy), a ruthless and physically powerful criminal who was exiled from the League of Shadows because he was too extreme. It’s not just Bane who lures Bruce Wayne out of hiding in his cowl, but also the woman driving Bane’s attack on Gotham – Talia Al Ghul (Marion Cotillard), the daughter of the slain Ra’s Al Ghul, who now wants revenge.
The movie sees Bruce forced to accept that he will no longer be needed once he saves Gotham one last time… and he has a potential replacement to take his place in the form of an enthusiastic young detective who is an orphan (his middle name is Robin, as in Batman’s sidekick). The movie gives closure to Bruce’s story as he’s able to walk away with his secret identity intact and the chance to lead a normal life with the woman he loves.
Did you know?
- Tom Hardy agreed to play Bane during Christopher Nolan’s first phone call to him and without reading a script, revealing later that he’d been a Batman fan since he was four.
Want more action movies? Check out our bumper list here.