Counting Down to Inception! Ranking Christopher Nolan’s Top 5 Movies

Woot woot! Three more days until my most-anticipated flick Inception finally arrives! I haven’t talked to any movie blogger so far who aren’t excited about this movie, and most of my friends are psyched about this as well. I for one am trying hard to keep my enthusiasm in check, by playing this ‘game’ coined by MadHatter from The Dark of the Matinee, of ‘Avoidception.’ Basically I refuse to read anything about the plot or watching any clips from the movie, I even avoid watching the latest trailer, which is usually something I do over and over again when it comes to movies I’m looking forward to, as to ensure a ‘fresh’ movie-going experience when I finally sit down at the theater and watch it unfold. For once I’m actually looking forward to a movie more for its director than of its stars!

I also avoid reading the reviews (which currently still stands at 96% Fresh at RottenTomatoes with 27 reviews by the time this post is published), though I did peek at this spoiler-free compilation of them @ Cinematical. WOW, with such lavish praises bestowed upon this enigmatic sci-fi thriller, no wonder this LA Times blog writer even pondered if this flick would suffer backlash from too-great expectations. I sure hope this one deserves all the enthusiastic buzz and be the Summer flick that lives up to the hype.

Well, in honor of the movie’s release, I thought I’d list my Top Five Favorite Nolan films. Granted the 40-year-old British auteur only has less than 10 feature films under his belt, but surely he’s made an indelible mark in the history of cinema.

  1. Batman Begins (2005)
    The ultimate origins story and my favorite Batman film ever! Nolan’s got a reputation for cajoling exceptional performances out of his actors, but when you already have a thespian like Christian Bale as the lead, it’s pretty much a given. Surrounded by a slew of top notch actors such as Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman, Tom Wilkinson and Cillian Murphy, etc., the movie also benefits from a fantastic script that rewards you with each repeated viewing. I’d even overlook the miscasting of Katie Holmes on this one, it’s THAT good!
  2. The Dark Knight (2008)
    It’s rare that a sequel lives up to the original, especially when one already sets the bar so high, but Nolan did just that! It’s nothing short of casting genius to have Heath Ledger play the Joker, though a lot of people were skeptical at first, the late Aussie actor’s iconic performance forever defined that character that it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing that role (neither did Nolan as he recently said he won’t bring back the Joker character for Batman 3). The complex story and the level of character development in this film makes me forget this is a superhero film! Gone are the circus-y and frivolous-ness of the previous Batman flicks, as both Nolan’s versions become the quintessential thinking person’s superhero movie. This is definitely a welcome trend for this genre!
  3. Insomnia (2002)
    Did you ever notice Nolan’s really skimpy when it comes to his movie titles? His one-word-titled movie starting with an ‘i’ is a small film with a budget of less than $50 million. Under less capable hands, the story of  two Los Angeles homicide detectives set to investigate a methodical teenage murder in Alaska might’ve end up to be a run-of-the mill thriller. But the smart, twist-ridden script and excellent performances from the cast made this into something memorable and thrilling to watch. Al Pacino as the increasingly unhinged LA detective and Hilary Swank as the young cop who adore him work well together, but it’s Robin Williams’ as the creepy nutcase who’s the scene-stealer. I think comedians actually make for the eeriest villains. Despite the title, Nolan certainly kept the audience wide awake with this one.
  4. The Prestige (2006)

    Bale & Jackman as friends-turned-arch rivals

    Out of the five Nolan’s movies, this is my least favorite. Now, don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t mean I dislike it, an OK movie from him is still better than average. The story is a riveting one: a tale of two magicians who become friends as well as rival, which intensified when one of them the ultimate magic trick. It’s got the recipe for a movie I’d love, especially given the cast that include Christian Bale (one of my faves) and the eye candy that is Hugh Jackman, as well as Nolan’s regular, Sir Michael Caine. Fans of David Bowie would also got a kick out of seeing him in a small but important role.

    I wasn’t blown away by it initially but upon re-watch, I had a whole new appreciation for it and felt that I could connect to the characters more, especially with Borden (Bale). The whole twist and turns are utterly perplexing (in a good way) and that ending is just WOW! Set against the backdrop of turn-of-the-century London, Nolan did a fine job in setting up a beautifully-shot period piece with gorgeous cinematography, costumes and wonderfully-rich atmosphere.

  5. Memento (2000)
    One of the most original story and most innovative narrative structure, it’s one that rewards with multiple viewings. Nominated for Best Editing and Best Original Screenplay, this is the first time mainstream audiences are introduced to Nolan’s genius work. A tale of a
    man who, suffering from short-term memory loss, uses notes and tattoos to hunt for the man he thinks killed his wife. Guy Pearce is astounding as Leonard, it’s a shame he was snubbed of any major acting nods! As #28 in IMDb’s Top 250 Movies(along with three other Nolan’s movies), this movie is etched in many people’s memories for years to come.

P.S. I will be revising this list now that I have seen Inception and watch The Dark Knight Rises. Stay tuned.

Ok, now your turn, everyone. How would you rank YOUR top five Nolan films?

This Just In: First pics of Gerard Butler as Machine Gun Preacher

I was going to make this week’s posts all about Inception, a tribute for Christopher Nolan and the cast of the movie. But hey, I make an exception for Gerry Butler, especially since I haven’t blogged about the guy in quite a while.

Thanks to HeyUGuys Blog’s tweet, we’ve got the first look of the Scottish actor as the machine gun preacher. I blogged about this last January when Butler was initially cast (there’s a photo of GB with the real preacher). The movie is based on a true story of Sam Childers, a former drug-dealing biker tough guy who found God and became a crusader hundreds of Sudanese children who’ve been kidnapped and pressed into duty as soldiers in the Lord’s Resistance Army. It’ll be inspired by Childers’ autobiography, Another Man’s War: The True Story of One Man’s Battle to Save Children in the Sudan.

Click to enlarge – images courtesy of
Click to enlarge – images courtesy of

According to JustJarred, in this scene, Butler’s character returns home and his daughter is waiting for him with a “Welcome Home Daddy” sign. Well, well, well, I guess this is what happens when Leonidas become a bad ass biker, eh? First the beard, now comes the mullet 🙂 Kidding aside, I’m so glad to see him tackle a serious role of someone whose story is worth telling. As I said in my open letter last March, this is a welcome departure from banal rom-com territory!

Acclaimed director Marc Forster whose work I admire, Kite Runner, Stranger than Fiction, Finding Neverland, is directing the action drama, and filming takes place in Detroit starting last week, and later in South Africa. The cast is a pretty good one, too, Michelle Monaghan as his wife, Michael Shannon his best friend and Kathy Baker as his mother. Vera Farmiga was originally cast as his wife, but had to pull out of the project due to her pregnancy. Aceshowbiz reported that since the role means traveling to Africa this Summer, she’d have been too far along to be able to make it. That’s too bad, I’d have loved to see her opposite Butler, she was fantastic in Up in the Air.

Lionsgate has acquired the rights to distribute this film, and it’s set for release September 11, 2011 (man, that date still gets me after all these years). Can’t wait to see the trailer for this. I’ll be sure to post it as soon as it arrives!

P.S. More pics available @ Zimbio of GB riding a Harley