21st Century Filmography: Memento (2000), Insomnia (2002), Batman Begins (2005), The Prestige (2007), The Dark Knight (2009), Inception (2010), The Dark Knight Rises (2012) Who else but English-born filmmaker Christopher Nolan has utilized the capabilities of 21st century cinema to set themselves apart with such talent and conviction? It's hard to dispute the magnificent impression that Christopher Nolan has made upon the movie-going public in such a short period of time - in just twelve years, he's helmed seven films, a combination of spectacularly-executed blockbusters and uncompromising stories about murder, mystery and memory, all built with narrative innovation. For the man who's been branded the blockbuster's answer to Stanley Kubrick, Nolan's short career, so far, hasn't been anything short of magnificent. Nolan opened the 21st century with arguably the best film he has ever made: Memento. This extremely clever murder mystery is told using an ingenious and (more importantly) appropriate narrative device. Here, Nolan shows a keen understanding that narrative should be played around with for good reason - in the case of a man with a very specific kind of amnesia, the reverse chronology is extremely apt. Nolan is most famous, of course, for his work in rebooting the God-awful Batman film franchise and transforming it into a global phenomenon and studio cash cow. Grounding the pulpy, supernatural stories in real world aesthetics (it would eventually be compared to Michael Mann's Heat), he changed the direction and perceptions of the Batman universe - making it, arguably, more appealing for mass audiences. Since Batman Begins, Nolan's films have set their sights on the dreaded mass audiences, but he'd be the first to say that big films don't necessarily have to be stupid. Nolan is one of those well-minded directors who knows that audiences are far more capable than movie studios might give them credit for: Inception proved this point when it captivated and enthralled everybody who gave it a shot back in 2010. The trick, of course, is that there's nothing particularly intelligent about Inception at all - it's pulp wrapped up in a slick, fancy narrative. No matter. It's all about the experience, and here's where the director constantly prevails. Nolan knows exactly how to engage an audience - his movies are always moving forwards, always throwing new information at you, never giving you a moment to even consider feeling bored. Nolan isn't flawless, however. In fact, he's far from it: there are those who would agree that he has still has a lot to learn about filmmaking. His characters are often little more than exposition-dispensers, lacking human qualities or story arcs. His directorial style, though crisp and clean, could be described negatively as cold, clinical, and lacking in visual flair. And his action sequences, though epic and even mind-bending when they're based around exploding buildings and high speed car chases, lack the same quality when dealing with close-quarter combat, often having been reduced to dull, intercutting mid-shots. The Dark Knight Rises, the epic conclusion to his massively popular Batman trilogy, though critically-acclaimed to an extent, is perhaps also Nolan's weakest film to date. Though there are many strengths to be found within its epic 3-hour running time, it's also the best example of Nolan's worst traits: messy, overwritten, visually incoherent. This does, however, is somewhat of a compliment: it proves just how strong a filmmaker he really is - TDKR might be a lesser outing by this director's standards, but it just about blows away any competitors who dare to make a fight. That's to say, Christopher Nolan is still a relatively new filmmaker. He sits here at No. 1 because he has accomplished an incredible amount in such a short span of time. He is very much the director of the moment, the time, and the technology, appealing to a vast range of audiences members, critics, and cinephiles. Each one of his films made over the course of this century has been successful, creative, original, entertaining - the best of their kind. Might he, one day, join the ranks of the all-time great directors? It's a definite possibility. First Feature: Following (1999)Cream of the Crop: Memento (2000)/The Dark Knight (2008)Next Up: -
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