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VBOAT'S PICK For Best Christopher Nolan Movie: Interstellar

interstellar film poster

After 3 full months of polling, we were surprised to see the world around us agree with us that Interstellar is Christopher Nolan’s best movie. Now that may or may not hold (we’re certainly not holding our breath) but if you’re not sure why, let us help you. First, the spoiler-free reason, is that Interstellar is the only time (in our opinion) that Nolan really swings for the fences. While he doesn’t connect all of it (see below) this film combines great acting, mostly linear storyline, coherent (actually fantastic) examples of science communication, and above all beautiful displays of the cosmos and foreign worlds.

This is a must-see movie best in a dark room on a big screen. If you have not seen it yet and you get the opportunity to see it in a theater at some point, go. Come back and let us know your thoughts. We’ll try to convince you below here’s a list of all of Nolan’s movies in chronological order with VBOAT’s top five ranked.

Film Release Date Budget Box Office
Following 1998 $6,000 $240,495
Memento 2000 $9 million $39.7 million
Insomnia 2002 $46 million $113.8 million
Batman Begins 2005 $150 million $373.6 million
#4 The Prestige 2006 $40 million $109.7 million
The Dark Knight 2008 $185 million $1 billion
#2 Inception 2010 $160 million $829.9 million
#3 The Dark Knight Rises 2012 $250 million $1.085 billion
#1 Interstellar 2014 $165 million $696.3 million
Dunkirk 2017 $100-150 million $526.9 million
Tenet 2020 $200 million $363.7 million
(new) #5 Oppenheimer 2023 $100 million $552.9+ million

Interstellar: Christopher Nolan's Masterpiece

While Nolan has a series of masterpieces under his belt, it is in Interstellar that we will argue  reaches his zenith. Let us convince you. Beware, spoilers lie ahead.

Nolan has been criticized in the past for his films lacking emotional depth. If you’ve seen his newest work Oppenheimer, you’d begin to wonder if Christopher Nolan has ever had sex himself. But with Interstellar, he silences critics by masterfully weaving emotion into the narrative’s very fabric. The relationship between Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and Murph (Mackenzie Foy/ Jessica Chastain) serves as the story’s beating heart. The gut-wrenching scene of Cooper watching years of his children’s messages after only hours on Miller’s planet highlights the personal sacrifices made in the pursuit of humanity’s survival. This emotional depth transcends space and time, creating a human connection that grounds the movie amid its cosmic ambitions.

Nolan, in collaboration with physicist Kip Thorne (one of the true masters in the field theoretical physics), managed to bring some of the most intricate and abstract concepts in physics to the big screen. Concepts such as time dilation near black holes, the visualization of a wormhole, and the tesseract scene in the fifth dimension are not just for spectacle but are grounded in actual scientific theory. This delicate balance between scientific accuracy and cinematic appeal educates while entertaining, a rare feat in Hollywood.

Now let’s talk about the performances. While Nolan’s films always boast an impressive cast, Interstellar stands out due to the raw emotional performances delivered. McConaughey’s portrayal of Cooper is arguably his best work, showing vulnerability, determination, and an unyielding love for his children. Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, and Michael Caine also offer nuanced performances that add layers to the storyline, ensuring that the human element never gets lost among the stars.

Speaking of stars, this movie is gorgeous. If you think Interstellar is not a visual and auditory masterpiece you have lost your mind. Cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema captures the beauty and terror of space in its vastness and its details. From the towering waves of Miller’s planet to the icy landscapes of Mann’s, the visuals are a feast for the eyes. Hans Zimmer’s haunting score perfectly complements the visuals, evoking feelings of wonder, sadness, and hope.

Above all, though, Interstellar is not just a space adventure; it is a meditation on human nature, love, survival, and time. The dialogues, especially those between Cooper and Dr. Brand (Anne Hathaway) about love transcending dimensions, challenge the audience to ponder deeper existential questions. This philosophical depth adds another layer to the film, making it more than just a cinematic experience.

Now, before you start throwing insults our way, let’s go through our Nolan runner-ups and explain why they don’t stack up to Interstellar.

#2 Inception (2010):  Inception stands as one of Nolan’s most conceptually daring films. With a multi-layered dream narrative, it pushes the boundaries of storytelling, challenging audiences to discern reality from illusion. Leonardo DiCaprio’s portrayal of Dom Cobb takes us on a psychological rollercoaster as he navigates personal trauma amidst a heist. Hans Zimmer’s iconic score, with its blaring horns and haunting melodies, elevates the movie’s tension and grandeur. Yet, where Inception does fall short in comparison to Interstellar is its emotional core. While Cobb’s relationship with his wife Mal (Marion Cotillard) offers depth, it doesn’t resonate as deeply as the father-daughter bond in Interstellar, making the latter more universally relatable.

#3 The Dark Knight Rises (2012): The conclusion to Nolan’s Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, presents a grandiose, sprawling epic of heroism, despair, and redemption. Christian Bale’s Batman faces his toughest opponent yet in Bane, a formidable foe played chillingly by Tom Hardy. Themes of societal decay, class warfare, and personal redemption make this a layered narrative. The stakes are higher than ever, and the cinematography and action sequences are unparalleled. However, the sheer scale and multiple subplots can occasionally overshadow the personal journey of Bruce Wayne, making it feel less intimate than Interstellar‘s exploration of love and sacrifice.

#4 The Prestige (2006): The Prestige is a tale of obsession, sacrifice, and the lengths to which people will go for greatness. With riveting performances from Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale as rival magicians, the film twists and turns, leaving the audience in perpetual awe. Nolan masterfully uses the structure of a magic trick as the film’s narrative framework, creating a meta-commentary on the nature of storytelling itself. The dark, atmospheric tone and the shocking revelations keep viewers on the edge of their seats. Yet, while The Prestige excels in its intrigue and thematic depth, its tighter scope and more restrained emotional palette keep it from reaching the cosmic and deeply moving expansiveness of Interstellar.

#5 Oppenheimer (2023): Oppenheimer is indeed a certain type of masterpiece and we feel bad putting it at #5. Perhaps we’ll adjust our position on this in the fullness of time but the truth is, there’s just too much cringe for us. The awkward sex, the post sex scene where the lover magically opens to the exact page with the sentence everyone has heard, the final scene where they just had to say Kennedy’s name…it’s just too much. The acting was brilliant, the bomb’s scene truly worked for me but the science didn’t even try. We’ll have a full review at some point but for now, we’ll leave it at that.

Filming Locations in Interstellar

Filming Locations