Having made his directorial debut with Following (1998), Nolan gained considerable attention for his second feature Memento (2000), for which he was nominated for numerous accolades, including the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. The acclaim garnered by his independent films gave Nolan the opportunity to make the big-budget thriller Insomnia (2002) and the mystery drama The Prestige (2006). He found further popular and critical success with The Dark Knight Trilogy (2005–2012); Inception (2010), which received eight Academy Award nominations, including for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay; Interstellar (2014); and Dunkirk (2017), which earned him his first Academy Award nomination for Best Director. His ten films have grossed over US$4.7 billion worldwide and garnered a total of 34 Oscar nominations and ten wins. Nolan has co-written several of his films with his brother Jonathan, and runs the production company Syncopy Inc. with his wife Emma Thomas.
Nolan's films are typically rooted in epistemological and metaphysical themes, exploring human morality, the construction of time, and the malleable nature of memory and personal identity. His body of work is permeated by materialistic perspectives, nonlinear storytelling, practical special effects, innovative soundscapes, large-format film photography, and analogous relationships between visual language and narrative elements. In addition to his filmmaking, he is an advocate for film preservation and the continued availability of film stock.
Nolan at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival
Christopher Edward Nolan
30 July 1970
|Alma mater||University College London|
Emma Thomas (m. 1997)
|Relatives||Jonathan Nolan (brother)|
John Nolan (uncle)
Lisa Joy (sister-in-law)
Nolan was born in London, England. His English father, Brendan James Nolan, was an advertising executive, and his American mother, Christina (née Jensen), worked as a flight attendant and an English teacher. His childhood was split between London and Evanston, Illinois, and he has both British and US citizenship. He has an older brother, Matthew Francis Nolan, a convicted criminal, and a younger brother, Jonathan. He began making films at age seven, borrowing his father's Super 8 camera and shooting short films with his action figures. Growing up, Nolan was particularly influenced by 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Star Wars (1977). Around the age of eight, he made a stop motion animation homage to the latter called Space Wars. His uncle, who worked at NASA building guidance systems for the Apollo rockets, sent him some launch footage: "I re-filmed them off the screen and cut them in, thinking no-one would notice," Nolan later remarked. From the age of eleven, he aspired to be a professional filmmaker.
When Nolan's family relocated to Chicago during his formative years, he started making films with Adrien and Roko Belic. He has continued his collaboration with the brothers, receiving a credit for his editorial assistance on their Oscar-nominated documentary Genghis Blues (1999). Nolan also worked alongside Belic (and future Pulitzer Prize winner Jeffrey Gettleman) on documenting a safari across four African countries, organized by the late photojournalist Dan Eldon in the early 1990s. Nolan was educated at Haileybury and Imperial Service College, an independent school in Hertford Heath, Hertfordshire, and later read English literature at University College London (UCL). He chose UCL specifically for its filmmaking facilities, which comprised a Steenbeck editing suite and 16 mm film cameras. Nolan was president of the Union's Film Society, and with Emma Thomas (his girlfriend and future wife) he screened 35 mm feature films during the school year and used the money earned to produce 16 mm films over the summers. During his college years, Nolan made two short films. The first was the surreal 8 mm Tarantella (1989), which was shown on Image Union (an independent film and video showcase on the Public Broadcasting Service). The second was Larceny (1995), filmed over a weekend in black and white with limited equipment and a small cast and crew. Funded by Nolan and shot with the society's equipment, it appeared at the Cambridge Film Festival in 1996 and is considered one of UCL's best shorts.
After earning his bachelor's degree in English literature in 1993, Nolan worked as a script reader, camera operator, and director of corporate videos and industrial films. He also made a third short, Doodlebug (1997), about a man chasing an insect around a flat with a shoe, only to discover when killing it that it is a miniature of himself. During this period in his career, Nolan had little or no success getting his projects off the ground; he later recalled the "stack of rejection letters" that greeted his early forays into making films, adding "there's a very limited pool of finance in the UK. To be honest, it's a very clubby kind of place ... Never had any support whatsoever from the British film industry."
In 1998 Nolan directed his first feature, Following, which he personally funded and filmed with friends. It depicts an unemployed young writer (Jeremy Theobald) who trails strangers through London, hoping they will provide material for his first novel, but is drawn into a criminal underworld when he fails to keep his distance. The film was inspired by Nolan's experience of living in London and having his flat burgled: "There is an interesting connection between a stranger going through your possessions and the concept of following people at random through a crowd – both take you beyond the boundaries of ordinary social relations". Following was made on a modest budget of £3,000, and was shot on weekends over the course of a year. To conserve film stock, each scene in the film was rehearsed extensively to ensure that the first or second take could be used in the final edit. Co-produced with Emma Thomas and Jeremy Theobald, Nolan wrote, photographed, and edited the film himself. Following won several awards during its festival run and was well received by critics; The New Yorker wrote that it "echoed Hitchcock classics", but was "leaner and meaner". Janet Maslin of The New York Times was impressed with its "spare look" and agile hand-held camerawork, saying, "As a result, the actors convincingly carry off the before, during and after modes that the film eventually, and artfully, weaves together." On 11 December 2012 it was released on DVD and Blu-ray as part of The Criterion Collection.
As a result of Following's success, Nolan was afforded the opportunity to make his breakthrough hit Memento (2000). During a road trip from Chicago to Los Angeles, his brother Jonathan pitched the idea for "Memento Mori", about a man with anterograde amnesia who uses notes and tattoos to hunt for his wife's murderer. Nolan developed a screenplay that told the story in reverse; Aaron Ryder, an executive for Newmarket Films, said it was "perhaps the most innovative script I had ever seen". The film was optioned and given a budget of $4.5 million. Memento, starring Guy Pearce and Carrie-Anne Moss, premiered in September 2000 at the Venice International Film Festival to critical acclaim. Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal wrote in his review, "I can't remember when a movie has seemed so clever, strangely affecting and slyly funny at the very same time." Basil Smith, in the book The Philosophy of Neo-Noir, draws a comparison with John Locke's An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, which argues that conscious memories constitute our identities, a theme that Nolan explores in the film. The film was a box-office success and received a number of accolades, including Academy Award and Golden Globe Award nominations for its screenplay, Independent Spirit Awards for Best Director and Best Screenplay, and a Directors Guild of America (DGA) Award nomination. Memento was considered by numerous critics to be one of the best films of the 2000s. In 2017, the film was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the United States National Film Registry, being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
Impressed by his work on Memento, Steven Soderbergh recruited Nolan to direct the psychological thriller Insomnia (2002), starring Academy Award winners Al Pacino, Robin Williams, and Hilary Swank. Warner Bros. initially wanted a more seasoned director, but Soderbergh and his Section Eight Productions fought for Nolan, as well as his choice of cinematographer (Wally Pfister) and editor (Dody Dorn). With a $46 million budget, it was described as "a much more conventional Hollywood film than anything the director has done before". A remake of the 1997 Norwegian film of the same name, Insomnia is about two Los Angeles detectives sent to a northern Alaskan town to investigate the murder of a local teenager. It received positive reviews from critics and performed well at the box office, earning $113 million worldwide. Film critic Roger Ebert praised the film for introducing new perspectives and ideas on the issues of morality and guilt. "Unlike most remakes, the Nolan Insomnia is not a pale retread, but a re-examination of the material, like a new production of a good play." Erik Skjoldbjærg, the director of the original film, was satisfied with Nolan's version, calling it a "well crafted, smart film ... with a really good director handling it". Richard Schickel of Time deemed Insomnia a "worthy successor" to Memento, and "a triumph of atmosphere over a none-too-mysterious mystery".
After Insomnia, Nolan planned a Howard Hughes biographical film starring Jim Carrey. He penned a screenplay, which he said was "the best script I've ever written", but when he learned that Martin Scorsese was making a Hughes biopic (2004's The Aviator), he reluctantly tabled his script and moved on to other projects. After turning down an offer to direct the historical epic Troy (2004), Nolan worked on adapting Ruth Rendell's crime novel The Keys to the Street into a screenplay that he planned to direct for Fox Searchlight Pictures, but eventually left the project, citing the similarities to his previous films.
In early 2003 Nolan approached Warner Bros. with the idea of making a new Batman film. Fascinated by the character and story, he wanted to make a film grounded in a "relatable" world more reminiscent of a classical drama than a comic-book fantasy. Batman Begins, the biggest project Nolan had undertaken to that point, premiered in June 2005 to critical acclaim and commercial success. Starring Christian Bale in the title role, along with Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, and Liam Neeson, the film revived the franchise, heralding a trend towards darker films that rebooted (or retold) backstories. It tells the origin story of the character from Bruce Wayne's initial fear of bats, the death of his parents, his journey to become Batman, and his fight against Ra's al Ghul's plot to destroy Gotham City. Praised for its psychological depth and contemporary relevance, Kyle Smith of The New York Post called it "a wake-up call to the people who keep giving us cute capers about men in tights. It wipes the smirk off the face of the superhero movie." Batman Begins was the eighth-highest-grossing film of 2005 in the United States and the year's ninth-highest-grossing film worldwide. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography and three BAFTA awards. On the film's 10th anniversary, Forbes published an article describing its influence: "Reboot became part of our modern vocabulary, and superhero origin stories became increasingly en vogue for the genre. The phrase "dark and gritty" likewise joined the cinematic lexicon, influencing our perception of different approaches to storytelling not only in the comic book film genre but in all sorts of other genres as well."
Before returning to the Batman franchise, Nolan directed, co-wrote, and produced The Prestige (2006), an adaptation of the Christopher Priest novel about two rival 19th-century magicians. In 2001, when Nolan was in post-production for Insomnia, he asked his brother Jonathan to help write the script for the film. The screenplay was an intermittent, five-year collaboration between the brothers. Nolan initially intended to make the film as early as 2003, postponing the project after agreeing to make Batman Begins. Starring Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale in the lead roles, The Prestige received critical acclaim (including Oscar nominations for Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction), and earned over $109 million worldwide. Roger Ebert described it as "quite a movie – atmospheric, obsessive, almost satanic". Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times called it an "ambitious, unnerving melodrama". Philip French wrote in his review for The Guardian: "In addition to the intellectual or philosophical excitement it engenders, The Prestige is gripping, suspenseful, mysterious, moving and often darkly funny."
In July 2006 Nolan announced that the follow-up to Batman Begins would be called The Dark Knight. Approaching the sequel, Nolan wanted to expand on the noirish quality of the first film by broadening the canvas and taking on "the dynamic of a story of the city, a large crime story ... where you're looking at the police, the justice system, the vigilante, the poor people, the rich people, the criminals". Released in 2008 to great critical acclaim, The Dark Knight has been cited as one of the best films of the 2000s and one of the best superhero films ever made. Manohla Dargis of The New York Times found the film to be of higher artistic merit than many Hollywood blockbusters: "Pitched at the divide between art and industry, poetry and entertainment, it goes darker and deeper than any Hollywood movie of its comic-book kind." Ebert expressed a similar point of view, describing it as a "haunted film that leaps beyond its origins and becomes an engrossing tragedy." Filmmaker Kevin Smith called it "the Godfather [Part] II of comic book films". The Dark Knight set a number of box-office records during its theatrical run, earning $534,858,444 in North America and $469,700,000 abroad, for a worldwide total of $1,004,558,444. It is the first commercial feature film shot partially in the 15/70 mm IMAX format. At the 81st Academy Awards, the film was nominated for eight Oscars, winning two: the Academy Award for Best Sound Editing and a posthumous Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Heath Ledger. Nolan was recognised by his peers with nominations from the DGA, Writers Guild of America (WGA), and Producers Guild of America (PGA). Ten years after its release, Bilge Ebiri of The Village Voice wrote, "Its politics have been discussed ad infinitum. Its stylistic influence has become ubiquitous, then passé, then somehow aspirational ... The Dark Knight is perhaps the most powerful exploration of guilt the modern American blockbuster has given us."
After The Dark Knight's success, Warner Bros. signed Nolan to direct Inception. Nolan also wrote and co-produced the film, described as "a contemporary sci-fi actioner set within the architecture of the mind". Before being released in theaters, critics such as Peter Travers and Lou Lumenick wondered if Nolan's faith in moviegoers' intelligence would cost him at the box office. Starring a large ensemble cast led by Leonardo DiCaprio, the film was released on 16 July 2010, and was a critical and commercial success. Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times awarded the film a perfect score of "A+" and called it "one of the best movies of the [21st] century". Mark Kermode named it the best film of 2010, stating "Inception is proof that people are not stupid, that cinema is not trash, and that it is possible for blockbusters and art to be the same thing." The film ended up grossing over $820 million worldwide and was nominated for eight Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay; it won the award for Best Cinematography, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing and Best Visual Effects. Nolan also received BAFTA, Golden Globe, DGA, and PGA Award nominations, as well as a WGA Award for his work on the film. While in post-production on Inception, Nolan gave an interview for These Amazing Shadows (2011), a documentary spotlighting film appreciation and preservation by the National Film Registry. He also appeared in Side by Side (2012), a documentary about the history, process, and workflow of both digital and photochemical film creation.
In 2012 Nolan directed his third and final Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises. Although he was initially hesitant about returning to the series, he agreed to come back after developing a story with his brother and David S. Goyer that he felt would end the series on a high note. The Dark Knight Rises was released on 20 July 2012 to positive reviews; Andrew O'Hehir of Salon called it "arguably the biggest, darkest, most thrilling and disturbing and utterly balls-out spectacle ever created for the screen", further describing the work as "auteurist spectacle on a scale never before possible and never before attempted". Christy Lemire of The Associated Press wrote in her review that Nolan concluded his trilogy in a "typically spectacular, ambitious fashion", but disliked the "overloaded" story and excessive grimness, saying, "This is the problem when you're an exceptional, visionary filmmaker. When you give people something extraordinary, they expect it every time. Anything short of that feels like a letdown." Like its predecessor, it performed well at the box office, becoming the thirteenth film in the world to gross over $1 billion. During a midnight showing of the film at the Century 16 cinema in Aurora, Colorado, a gunman opened fire inside the theater, killing 12 people and injuring 58 others. Nolan released a statement to the press expressing his condolences for the victims of what he described as a senseless tragedy.
During story discussions for The Dark Knight Rises in 2010, Goyer told Nolan of his idea to present Superman in a modern context. Impressed with Goyer's first contact concept, Nolan pitched the idea for Man of Steel (2013) to Warner Bros, who hired Nolan to produce and Goyer to write. Nolan offered Zack Snyder to direct the film, based on his stylized adaptations of 300 (2007) and Watchmen (2009) and his "innate aptitude for dealing with superheroes as real characters". Starring Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Kevin Costner, Russell Crowe, and Michael Shannon, Man of Steel grossed more than $660 million at the worldwide box office, but received a divided critical reaction. However, Nolan was thoroughly impressed by Snyder's work, saying that the director "knocked it out of the park", and believed the film would have the same potential to excite audiences as when he himself saw the Christopher Reeve version in 1978.
In 2014 Nolan and Emma Thomas served as executive producers on Transcendence, the directorial debut of Nolan's longtime cinematographer Wally Pfister. Starring Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, Paul Bettany, Kate Mara, Cillian Murphy, and Morgan Freeman, Transcendence was released in theaters on 18 April 2014 to mostly unfavorable reviews and disappointing box office results. A. A. Dowd of The A.V. Club gave the film a C- rating, pointing out that "[Pfister] lacks Nolan's talent for weaving grand pop spectacle out of cultural anxieties."
Nolan also directed, wrote, and produced the science-fiction film Interstellar (2014). The first drafts of the script were written by Jonathan Nolan, and it was originally to be directed by Steven Spielberg. Based on the scientific theories of renowned theoretical physicist Kip Thorne, the film depicted "a heroic interstellar voyage to the farthest borders of our scientific understanding". Interstellar starred Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Bill Irwin, Michael Caine, and Ellen Burstyn, and was notably Nolan's first collaboration with cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema. Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. co-financed and co-distributed the project, released on 5 November 2014 to largely positive reviews and strong box office results, grossing over $670 million worldwide. A. O. Scott wrote, in his review for The New York Times, "Interstellar, full of visual dazzle, thematic ambition ... is a sweeping, futuristic adventure driven by grief, dread and regret." James Berardinelli of Reelviews opined that the film deserved the label of an "experience", and that it was a "unique and mesmerizing" movie. Documentary filmmaker Toni Myers said of the film, "I loved it because it tackled the most difficult part of human exploration, which is that it's a multi-generational journey. It was a real work of art." Interstellar was particularly praised for its scientific accuracy, which led to the publication of two scientific papers and the American Journal of Physics calling for it to be shown in school science lessons. It was named one of the best films of the year by The American Film Institute (AFI). At the 87th Academy Awards, the film won Best Visual Effects and received four other nominations – Best Original Score, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing and Best Production Design. Nolan curated the short film Emic: A Time Capsule From the People of Earth (2015). It was specifically inspired by the themes of Interstellar, and "attempts to capture and celebrate the human experience on Earth".
In 2015 Nolan's production company Syncopy formed a joint venture with Zeitgeist Films, to release Blu-ray editions of Zeitgeist's prestige titles. Their first project was Elena (2011) from director Andrey Zvyagintsev. As part of a Blu-ray release of the Quay brothers animated work, Nolan directed the documentary short Quay (2015). He also initiated a theatrical tour, showcasing the Quays' In Absentia, The Comb, and Street of Crocodiles. The program and Nolan's short received critical acclaim, with Indiewire writing in their review that the brothers "will undoubtedly have hundreds, if not thousands more fans because of Nolan, and for that The Quay Brothers in 35mm will always be one of latter's most important contributions to cinema". In 2015 Nolan joined The Film Foundation's board of directors, a non-profit organization dedicated to film preservation. Having been instrumental in keeping Kodak and the production of film stock alive in the 2010s, Nolan and visual artist Tacita Dean invited representatives from leading American film archives, labs, and presenting institutions to participate in an informal summit entitled Reframing the Future of Film at the Getty Museum in March 2015. Subsequent events were held at Tate Modern in London, Museo Tamayo in Mexico City, and Tata Theatre in Mumbai. On 7 May it was announced that Nolan and Martin Scorsese had been appointed by the Library of Congress to serve on the National Film Preservation Board (NFPB) as DGA representatives. Later that year, he was featured in the documentary Cinema Futures (2016) by Austrian filmmaker Michael Palm. Nolan and Thomas opted to take a step back and only serve as executive producers on Zack Snyder's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) and Justice League (2017), the sequels to Man of Steel.
In 2017, Nolan directed and produced Dunkirk, based on his own original screenplay. The story is set amid World War II and the evacuation of Allied soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk, France, in 1940. During the year-long production of his first film, Following (1998), Nolan and Thomas hired a small sailing boat to take them across the English Channel and retrace the journey of the little ships of Dunkirk. "We did it at the same time of year to get a sense of what it was like, and it turned out to be an incredibly dangerous experience. And that was with no bombs dropping on us." For Dunkirk, Nolan said he was inspired by the work of Robert Bresson, silent films such as Intolerance (1916) and Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927), as well as by The Wages of Fear (1953). Describing the film as a survival tale with a triptych structure, he wanted to make a "sensory, almost experimental movie" with minimal dialogue. Nolan said he waited to make Dunkirk until he had earned the trust of a major studio to let him make it as a British film, but with an American budget. Before filming, Nolan also sought advice from Spielberg, who later said in an interview with Variety, "Knowing and respecting that Chris [Nolan] is one of the world's most imaginative filmmakers, my advice to him was to leave his imagination, as I did on Ryan, in second position to the research he was doing to authentically acquit this historical drama." Starring Fionn Whitehead, Jack Lowden, Aneurin Barnard, Harry Styles, Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, Cillian Murphy, and Kenneth Branagh, Dunkirk was released in theaters on 21 July 2017 to widespread critical acclaim and strong box office results, grossing over $525 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing World War II film of all time. In his review, Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote: "It's one of the best war films ever made, distinct in its look, in its approach and in the effect it has on viewers. There are movies—they are rare—that lift you out of your present circumstances and immerse you so fully in another experience that you watch in a state of jaw-dropped awe. Dunkirk is that kind of movie." Manohla Dargis of The New York Times lauded the film, calling it "a tour de force of cinematic craft and technique, but one that is unambiguously in the service of a sober, sincere, profoundly moral story that closes the distance between yesterday's fights and today's." Dunkirk received eight nominations at the 71st British Academy Film Awards; winning one for Best Sound, three at the 75th Golden Globes, and eight at the 90th Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director (Nolan's first Oscar nomination for directing); winning three for Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Film Editing. Nolan was also nominated by the DGA and PGA, among other accolades.
In the months following the Oscar season, Nolan began supervising a new 70mm print of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), made from the original camera negative. He presented the film at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, with members of Kubrick's family in attendance. While in Cannes, Nolan also held a two-hour masterclass at the Palais des Festivals. USA Today observed that the director was greeted "like a rock star", and with a prolonged standing ovation. After the premiere, Warner Bros. released the "unrestored" prints in a select few locations to both critical and commercial success. In the spring of 2018, Nolan was featured in James Cameron's Story of Science Fiction, a documentary series about the science fiction genre. On 25 January 2019, Warner Bros. set a 17 July 2020 release date for Nolan's next film, which is currently untitled.
Regarded as an auteur filmmaker, Nolan's visual style often emphasises urban settings, men in suits, muted colours, dialogue scenes framed in wide close-up with a shallow depth of field, and modern locations and architecture. Aesthetically, the director favours deep, evocative shadows, documentary-style lighting, hand-held camera work, natural settings, and real filming locations over studio work. Nolan has noted that many of his films are heavily influenced by film noir. He has continuously experimented with metafictive elements, temporal shifts, elliptical cutting, solipsistic perspectives, nonlinear storytelling, labyrinthine plots, and the merging of style and form. Discussing The Tree of Life (2011), Nolan spoke of Terrence Malick's work and how it has influenced his own approach to style, "When you think of a visual style, when you think of the visual language of a film, there tends to be a natural separation of the visual style and the narrative elements. But with the greats, whether it's Stanley Kubrick or Terrence Malick or Hitchcock, what you're seeing is an inseparable, a vital relationship between the image and the story it's telling".
Drawing attention to the intrinsically manipulative nature of the medium, Nolan uses narrative and stylistic techniques (notably mise en abyme and recursions) to stimulate the viewer to ask themselves why his films are put together in such ways and why the films provoke particular responses. He sometimes uses editing as a way to represent the characters' psychological states, merging their subjectivity with that of the audience. For example, in Memento the fragmented sequential order of scenes is to put the audience into a similar experience of Leonard's defective ability to create new long-term memories. In The Prestige, the series of magic tricks and themes of duality and deception mirror the structural narrative of the film. His writing style incorporates a number of storytelling techniques such as flashbacks, shifting points of view, and unreliable narrators. Scenes are often interrupted by the unconventional editing style of cutting away quickly from the money shot (or nearly cutting off characters' dialogue) and crosscutting several scenes of parallel action to build to a climax.
Embedded narratives and crosscutting between different time frames is a major component of Nolan's auteurship. Following contains four timelines and intercuts three; Memento intercuts two timelines, with one moving backward; The Prestige contains four timelines and intercuts three; Inception intercuts four timelines, all of them framed by a fifth. In Dunkirk, Nolan structured three different timelines to emulate a Shepard tone in such a way that it "provides a continual feeling of intensity". Noted film theorist and historian David Bordwell wrote, "For Nolan, I think, form has centrally to do with the sorts of juxtapositions you can create by crosscutting. You could say he treats crosscutting the way Ophüls treats tracking shots or Dreyer treats stark decor: an initial commitment to a creative choice, which in turn shapes the handling of story, staging, performance and other factors." Bordwell further added, "It's rare to find any mainstream director so relentlessly focused on exploring a particular batch of storytelling techniques ... Nolan zeroes in, from film to film, on a few narrative devices, finding new possibilities in what most directors handle routinely. He seems to me a very thoughtful, almost theoretical director in his fascination with turning certain conventions this way and that, to reveal their unexpected possibilities." The director has also stressed the importance of establishing a clear point of view in his films, and makes frequent use of "the shot that walks into a room behind a character, because ... that takes [the viewer] inside the way that the character enters". On narrative perspective, Nolan has said, "You don't want to be hanging above the maze watching the characters make the wrong choices because it's frustrating. You actually want to be in the maze with them, making the turns at their side."
In collaboration with composer David Julyan, Nolan's films featured slow and atmospheric scores with minimalistic expressions and ambient textures. In the mid-2000s, starting with Batman Begins, Nolan began working with Hans Zimmer, who is known for integrating electronic music with traditional orchestral arrangements. With Zimmer, the soundscape in Nolan's films evolved into becoming increasingly more lush, kinetic and experimental. An example of this is the main theme from Inception, which is derived from a slowed down version of Edith Piaf's song Non, je ne regrette rien. For 2014's Interstellar, Zimmer and Nolan wanted to move in a new direction: "The textures, the music, and the sounds, and the thing we sort of created has sort of seeped into other people's movies a bit, so it's time to reinvent." The score for Dunkirk was written to accommodate the auditory illusion of a Shepard tone. It was also based on a recording of Nolan's own pocket watch, which he sent to Zimmer to be synthesised. Responding to some criticism over his experimental sound mix for Interstellar, Nolan remarked, "I've always loved films that approach sound in an impressionistic way and that is an unusual approach for a mainstream blockbuster ... I don't agree with the idea that you can only achieve clarity through dialogue. Clarity of story, clarity of emotions — I try to achieve that in a very layered way using all the different things at my disposal — picture and sound."
Nolan has described his filmmaking process as a combination of intuition and geometry. "I draw a lot of diagrams when I work. I do a lot of thinking about etchings by Escher, for instance. That frees me, finding a mathematical model or a scientific model. I'll draw pictures and diagrams that illustrate the movement or the rhythm that I'm after." Caltech physicist and Nobel Laureate Kip Thorne compared Nolan's intuition to scientists such as Albert Einstein, noting that the director intuitively grasped things non-scientists rarely understand. Regarding his own decision-making of whether or not to start work on a project, Nolan has proclaimed a belief in the sincerity of his passion for something within the particular project in question as a basis for his selective thought. A famously secretive filmmaker, Nolan is also known for his tight security on scripts, even going as far as telling the actors of The Dark Knight Rises the ending of the film verbally to avoid any leaks and also keeping the Interstellar plot secret from his composer Hans Zimmer.
He prefers shooting on film to digital video, and opposes the use of digital intermediates and digital cinematography, which he feels are less reliable than film and offer inferior image quality. In particular, the director advocates for the use of higher-quality, larger-format film stock such as anamorphic 35 mm, VistaVision, 65 mm, and IMAX. Nolan uses multi-camera for stunts and single-camera for all the dramatic action, from which he then watches dailies every night, saying, "Shooting single-camera means I've already seen every frame as it's gone through the gate because my attention isn't divided to multi-cameras." He deliberately works under a tight schedule during the early stages of the editing process, forcing himself and his editor to work more spontaneously. "I always think of editing as instinctive or impressionist. Not to think too much, in a way, and feel it more." Nolan also avoids using temp music while cutting his films.
When working with actors, Nolan prefers giving them the time to perform as many takes of a given scene as they want. "I've come to realize that the lighting and camera setups, the technical things, take all the time, but running another take generally only adds a couple of minutes ... If an actor tells me they can do something more with a scene, I give them the chance, because it's not going to cost that much time. It can't all be about the technical issues." Gary Oldman praised the director for providing a relaxed atmosphere on set, adding, "I've never seen him raise his voice to anyone." He observed that Nolan would give the actors space to "find things in the scene", and not just give direction for direction's sake. Kenneth Branagh also recognised Nolan's ability to provide a harmonious work environment, comparing him with Danny Boyle and Robert Altman: "These are not people who try to trick or cajole or hector people. They sort of strip away the chaos."
Nolan chooses to minimize the amount of computer-generated imagery for special effects in his films, preferring to use practical effects whenever possible, and only using CGI to enhance elements which he has photographed in camera. For instance, his films Batman Begins, Inception, and Interstellar featured 620, 500, and 850 visual-effects shots, respectively, which is considered minor when compared with contemporary visual-effects epics, which may have upwards of 1,500 to 2,000 VFX shots: "I believe in an absolute difference between animation and photography. However sophisticated your computer-generated imagery is, if it's been created from no physical elements and you haven't shot anything, it's going to feel like animation. There are usually two different goals in a visual effects movie. One is to fool the audience into seeing something seamless, and that's how I try to use it. The other is to impress the audience with the amount of money spent on the spectacle of the visual effect, and that, I have no interest in". Nolan shoots the entirety of his films with one unit, rather than using a second unit for action sequences. That way, Nolan keeps his personality and point of view in every aspect of the film. "If I don't need to be directing the shots that go in the movie, why do I need to be there at all? The screen is the same size for every shot ... Many action films embrace a second unit taking on all of the action. For me, that's odd because then why did you want to do an action film?"
Nolan's work explores existential, ethical, and epistemological themes such as subjective experience, distortion of memory, human morality, the nature of time, causality, and construction of personal identity. "I'm fascinated by our subjective perception of reality, that we are all stuck in a very singular point of view, a singular perspective on what we all agree to be an objective reality, and movies are one of the ways in which we try to see things from the same point of view". His films contain a notable degree of ambiguity and often examine the similarities between filmmaking and architecture. Film critic Tom Shone described Nolan's oeuvre as "epistemological thrillers whose protagonists, gripped by the desire for definitive answers, must negotiate mazy environments in which the truth is always beyond their reach." In an essay titled The rational wonders of Christopher Nolan, film critic Mike D'Angelo argues that the filmmaker is a materialist dedicated to exploring the wonders of the natural world. "Underlying nearly every film he's ever made, no matter how fanciful, is his conviction that the universe can be explained entirely by physical processes."
Apart from the larger themes of corruption and conspiracy, his characters are often emotionally disturbed, obsessive, and morally ambiguous, facing the fears and anxieties of loneliness, guilt, jealousy, and greed. By grounding "everyday neurosis – our everyday sort of fears and hopes for ourselves" in a heightened reality, Nolan makes them more accessible to a universal audience. The protagonists of Nolan's films are often driven by philosophical beliefs, and their fate is ambiguous. In some of his films, the protagonist and antagonist are mirror images of each other, a point which is made to the protagonist by the antagonist. Through the clashing of ideologies, Nolan highlights the ambivalent nature of truth. The director also uses his real-life experiences as an inspiration in his work, saying, "From a creative point of view, the process of growing up, the process of maturing, getting married, having kids, I've tried to use that in my work. I've tried to just always be driven by the things that were important to me." Writing for The Playlist, Oliver Lyttelton singled out parenthood as a signature theme in Nolan's work, adding; "the director avoids talking about his private life, but fatherhood has been at the emotional heart of almost everything he's made, at least from Batman Begins onwards (previous films, it should be said, pre-dated the birth of his kids)."
Nolan's most prominent recurring theme is the concept of time. The director has identified that all of his films "have had some odd relationship with time, usually in just a structural sense, in that I have always been interested in the subjectivity of time." Writing for Film Philosophy, Emma Bell points out that the characters in Inception do not literally time-travel, "rather they escape time by being stricken in it – building the delusion that time has not passed, and is not passing now. They feel time grievously: willingly and knowingly destroying their experience by creating multiple simultaneous existences." In Interstellar, Nolan explored the laws of physics as represented in Einstein's theory of general relativity, identifying time as the film's antagonist. Ontological questions concerning the nature of existence and reality also play a major role in his body of work. Alec Price and M. Dawson of Left Field Cinema noted that the existential crisis of conflicted male figures "struggling with the slippery nature of identity" is a prevalent theme in Nolan's films. The actual (or objective) world is of less importance than the way in which we absorb and remember, and it is this created (or subjective) reality that truly matters. "It is solely in the mind and the heart where any sense of permanency or equilibrium can ever be found." According to film theorist Todd McGowan, these "created realities" also reveal the ethical and political importance of creating fictions and falsehoods. Nolan's films typically deceive spectators about the events that occur and the motivations of the characters, but they do not abandon the idea of truth altogether. Instead, "They show us how truth must emerge out of the lie if it is not to lead us entirely astray." McGowan further argues that Nolan is the first filmmaker to devote himself entirely to the illusion of the medium, calling him a Hegelian filmmaker. In Inception, Nolan was inspired by lucid dreaming and dream incubation. The film's characters try to embed an idea in a person's mind without their knowledge, similar to Freud's theory that the unconscious influences one's behavior without one's knowledge. Most of the film takes place in interconnected dream worlds; this creates a framework where actions in the real (or dream) worlds ripple across others. The dream is always in a state of emergence, shifting across levels as the characters navigate it. Like Memento and The Prestige, Inception uses metaleptic storytelling devices and follows Nolan's "auteur affinity of converting, moreover, converging narrative and cognitive values into and within a fictional story".
Nolan's work has often been the subject of extensive social and political commentary. The Dark Knight trilogy explored themes of chaos, terrorism, escalation of violence, financial manipulation, utilitarianism, mass surveillance, and class conflict. Batman's arc of rising (philosophically) from a man to "more than just a man" is similar to the Nietzschian Übermensch. The films also explore ideas akin to Jean-Jacques Rousseau's philosophical glorification of a simpler, more primitive way of life and the concept of general will. Theorist Douglas Kellner saw the series as a critical allegory about the Bush–Cheney era, highlighting the theme of government corruption and failure to solve social problems, as well as the cinematic spectacle and iconography related to 9/11. In 2018, the conservative magazine The American Spectator published an article, In Search of Christopher Nolan, writing, "All of Nolan's films, while maintaining a strong patriotism, plunges below the surface into the murky waters of philosophy, probing some of the deepest human struggles in our unfortunately postmodern age." The article further argues that Dunkirk echoes the work of absurdist playwrights like Samuel Beckett and the bleak, existential novels of Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre. Nolan has said that none of his films are intended to be political.
The filmmaker has often cited Dutch graphic artist M. C. Escher as a major influence on his own work. "I'm very inspired by the prints of M. C. Escher and the interesting connection-point or blurring of boundaries between art and science, and art and mathematics." Another source of inspiration is Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges. The director has called Memento a "strange cousin" to Funes the Memorious, and has said, "I think his writing naturally lends itself to a cinematic interpretation because it is all about efficiency and precision, the bare bones of an idea."
Other filmmakers whom Nolan has cited as influences include Stanley Kubrick, Michael Mann, Terrence Malick, Orson Welles, Fritz Lang, Nicolas Roeg, Sidney Lumet, David Lean, Ridley Scott, Terry Gilliam, and John Frankenheimer. Nolan's personal favorite films include Blade Runner (1982), Star Wars (1977), The Man Who Would Be King (1975), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Chinatown (1974), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), and Withnail and I (1987). In 2013 Criterion Collection released a list of Nolan's ten favorite films from its catalog, which included The Hit (1984), 12 Angry Men (1957), The Thin Red Line (1998), The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933), Bad Timing (1980), Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (1983), For All Mankind (1989), Koyaanisqatsi (1982), Mr. Arkadin (1955), and Erich von Stroheim's Greed (1924) (unavailable on Criterion). He is also a fan of the James Bond films, citing them as a "a huge source of inspiration" and has expressed his admiration for the work of composer John Barry.
Nolan's habit for employing non-linear storylines was particularly influenced by the Graham Swift novel Waterland, which he felt "did incredible things with parallel timelines, and told a story in different dimensions that was extremely coherent". He was also influenced by the visual language of the film Pink Floyd – The Wall (1982) and the structure of Pulp Fiction (1994), stating that he was "fascinated with what Tarantino had done". Inception was partly influenced by Dante's Inferno. For Interstellar, he mentioned a number of literary influences, including Flatland by Edwin Abbott Abbott, The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks, and Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. Other influences Nolan has credited include figurative painter Francis Bacon, architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and authors Raymond Chandler, James Ellroy, Jim Thompson, and Charles Dickens (A Tale of Two Cities was a major influence on The Dark Knight Rises).
Christopher Nolan is a vocal proponent of the continued use of film stock, and prefers it over digital recording and projection formats, summing up his belief as, "I am not committed to film out of nostalgia. I am in favor of any kind of technical innovation but it needs to exceed what has gone before and so far nothing has exceeded anything that's come before". Nolan's major concern is that the film industry's adoption of digital formats has been driven purely by economic factors as opposed to digital being a superior medium to film, saying, "I think, truthfully, it boils down to the economic interest of manufacturers and [a production] industry that makes more money through change rather than through maintaining the status quo."
Shortly before Christmas of 2011, Nolan invited several prominent directors, including, Edgar Wright, Michael Bay, Bryan Singer, Jon Favreau, Eli Roth, Duncan Jones, and Stephen Daldry, to Universal CityWalk's IMAX theatre for a private screening of the first six minutes of The Dark Knight Rises, which had been shot on IMAX film and edited from the original camera negative. Nolan used this screening in an attempt to showcase the superiority of the IMAX format over digital, and to warn the filmmakers that unless they continued to assert their choice to use film in their productions, Hollywood movie studios would begin to phase out the use of film in favor of digital. Nolan explained, "I wanted to give them a chance to see the potential, because I think IMAX is the best film format that was ever invented. It's the gold standard and what any other technology has to match up to, but none have, in my opinion. The message I wanted to put out there was that no one is taking anyone's digital cameras away. But if we want film to continue as an option, and someone is working on a big studio movie with the resources and the power to insist [on] film, they should say so. I felt as if I didn't say anything, and then we started to lose that option, it would be a shame. When I look at a digitally acquired and projected image, it looks inferior against an original negative anamorphic print or an IMAX one." Nolan has lent out IMAX lenses from his personal collection to fellow directors to use on movies such as Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015).
Nolan has been critical of 3D film, as he feels that shooting on the required digital video does not offer a high enough quality image and dislikes that 3D cameras can not be equipped with prime (non-zoom) lenses. In particular, Nolan has criticized the loss of brightness caused by 3D projection, which can be up to three foot-lamberts dimmer. "You're not that aware of it because once you're 'in that world,' your eye compensates, but having struggled for years to get theaters up to the proper brightness, we're not sticking polarized filters in everything." Nolan has also argued against the notion that traditional film does not create the illusion of depth perception, saying "I think it's a misnomer to call it 3D versus 2D. The whole point of cinematic imagery is it's three dimensional... You know 95% of our depth cues come from occlusion, resolution, color and so forth, so the idea of calling a 2D movie a '2D movie' is a little misleading."
Nolan is also an advocate for the importance of films being shown in large-screen cinema theaters as opposed to home video formats, as he believes that, "The theatrical window is to the movie business what live concerts are to the music business – and no one goes to a concert to be played an MP3 on a bare stage." In 2014 Christopher Nolan wrote an article for The Wall Street Journal where he expressed concern that as the film industry transitions away from photochemical film towards digital formats, the difference between seeing films in theaters versus on other formats will become trivialised, leaving audiences no incentive to seek out a theatrical experience. Nolan further expressed concern that with content digitised, theaters of the future will be able to track best-selling films and adjust their programming accordingly, a process that favors large heavily marketed studio films, but will marginalise smaller innovative and unconventional pictures. In order to combat this, Nolan believes the industry needs to focus on improving the theatrical experience with bigger and more beautiful presentation formats that cannot be accessed or reproduced in the home, as well as embracing the new generation of aspiring young innovative filmmakers. As a filmmaker he opposes motion interpolation, commonly referred to as the "soap opera effect", as the default setting on television. In 2018, Nolan and Paul Thomas Anderson reached out to television manufacturers in an attempt to "try and give directors a voice in how the technical standards of our work can be maintained in the home."
His wife, Emma Thomas has co-produced all of his films (including Memento, in which she is credited as an associate producer). He regularly works with his brother, Jonathan Nolan (creator of Person of Interest and Westworld), who describes their working relationship in the production notes for The Prestige: "I've always suspected that it has something to do with the fact that he's left-handed and I'm right-handed, because he's somehow able to look at my ideas and flip them around in a way that's just a little bit more twisted and interesting. It's great to be able to work with him like that". When working on separate projects, the brothers always consult each other.
The director has worked with screenwriter David S. Goyer on all his comic-book adaptations. Wally Pfister was the cinematographer for all of Nolan's films from Memento to The Dark Knight Rises. Embarking on his own career as a director, Pfister said: "The greatest lesson I learned from Chris Nolan is to keep my humility. He is an absolute gentleman on set and he is wonderful to everyone – from the actors to the entire crew, he treats everyone with respect." Lee Smith has been Nolan's editor since Batman Begins, with Dody Dorn editing Memento and Insomnia. David Julyan composed the music for Nolan's early work, while Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard provided the music for Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. Zimmer scored The Dark Knight Rises, and has worked with Nolan on his subsequent films. Zimmer has said his creative relationship with Nolan is highly collaborative, and that he considers Nolan a "co-creator" of the music. The director has worked with sound designer Richard King and re-recording mixer Gary Rizzo since The Prestige. Nolan has frequently collaborated with special-effects supervisor Chris Corbould, stunt coordinator Tom Struthers first assistant director Nilo Otero, and visual effects supervisor Paul Franklin. Production designer Nathan Crowley has worked with him since Insomnia (except for Inception). Nolan has called Crowley one of his closest and most inspiring creative collaborators. Casting director John Papsidera has worked on all of Nolan's films, except Following and Insomnia.
Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Cillian Murphy, and Tom Hardy have been frequent collaborators since the mid-2000s. Caine is Nolan's most prolific collaborator, having appeared in seven of his films, and is regarded by Nolan to be his "good luck charm". In return, Caine has described Nolan as "one of cinema's greatest directors", comparing him favorably with the likes of David Lean, John Huston, and Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Nolan is also known for casting stars from the 1980s in his films, i.e. Rutger Hauer (Batman Begins), Eric Roberts (The Dark Knight), Tom Berenger (Inception), and Matthew Modine (The Dark Knight Rises). Modine said of working with Nolan, "There are no chairs on a Nolan set, he gets out of his car and goes to the set. And he stands up until lunchtime. And then he stands up until they say 'Wrap'. He's fully engaged – in every aspect of the film."
Nolan is married to Emma Thomas, whom he met at University College London when he was 19. She has worked as a producer on all of his films, and together they founded the production company Syncopy Inc. The couple have four children and reside in Los Angeles, California. Protective of his privacy, he rarely discusses his personal life in interviews. However, he has publicly shared some of his sociopolitical concerns for the future, such as the current conditions of nuclear weapons and environmental issues that he says need to be addressed. He has also expressed an admiration for scientific objectivity, wishing it were applied "in every aspect of our civilization."
Nolan prefers not to use a mobile phone or an email address, saying, "It's not that I'm a Luddite and don't like technology; I've just never been interested ... When I moved to Los Angeles in 1997, nobody really had cell phones, and I just never went down that path." He also prohibits use of phones on set.
Having made some of the most influential and popular films of his time, Nolan's work has been as "intensely embraced, analyzed and debated by ordinary film fans as by critics and film academics". According to The Wall Street Journal, his "ability to combine box-office success with artistic ambition has given him an extraordinary amount of clout in the industry." Geoff Andrew of the British Film Institute (BFI) and regular contributor to the Sight & Sound magazine, called Nolan "a persuasively inventive storyteller", singling him out as one of the few contemporary filmmakers producing highly personal films within the Hollywood mainstream. He also pointed out that Nolan's films are as notable for their "considerable technical virtuosity and visual flair" as for their "brilliant narrative ingenuity and their unusually adult interest in complex philosophical questions". Film scholar David Bordwell compared Nolan to Stanley Kubrick, citing his ability to turn genre movies into both art and event films. Film director and critic Mark Cousins also applauded Nolan for embracing big ideas, "Hollywood filmmakers generally shy away from ideas — but not Christopher Nolan". Scott Foundas of Variety declared Nolan "the premier big-canvas storyteller of his generation", while Justin Chang of the Los Angeles Times called him "the great proceduralist of 21st century blockbuster filmmaking, a lover of nuts-and-bolts minutiae."
The filmmaker has been praised by many of his contemporaries, and some have cited his work as influencing their own. Rupert Wyatt said in an interview that he thinks of Nolan as a "trailblazer ... he is to be hugely admired as a master filmmaker, but also someone who has given others behind him a stick to beat back the naysayers who never thought a modern mass audience would be willing to embrace story and character as much as spectacle". Kenneth Branagh called Nolan's approach to large-scale filmmaking "unique in modern cinema", adding "regardless of how popular his movies become, he remains an artist and an auteur. I think for that reason he has become a heroic figure for both the audience and the people working behind the camera." Michael Mann complimented Nolan for his "singular vision" and called him "a complete auteur". Nicolas Roeg said of Nolan, "[His] films have a magic to them ... People talk about 'commercial art' and the term is usually self-negating; Nolan works in the commercial arena and yet there's something very poetic about his work." Martin Scorsese identified Nolan as a filmmaker creating "beautifully made films on a big scale", and Luca Guadagnino called him "one of the ultimate auteurs." Damien Chazelle said of Nolan, "This is a filmmaker who has managed, time and again, to make the most seemingly impersonal projects — superhero epics, deep-space mind-benders — feel deeply personal".
Olivier Assayas said he admired Nolan for "making movies that are really unlike anything else. The way I see it, he has a really authentic voice." Discussing the difference between art films and big-studio films, Steven Spielberg referred to Nolan's Dark Knight series as an example of both; he has described Memento and Inception as "masterworks". Nolan has also been commended by Quentin Tarantino, James Cameron, Brad Bird, Guillermo del Toro, Matt Reeves, Danny Boyle, Wong Kar-Wai, Steven Soderbergh, Sam Mendes, Werner Herzog, Matthew Vaughn, Paul Thomas Anderson, Denis Villeneuve, Paul Greengrass, Rian Johnson, and others. Noted film critic Mark Kermode complimented the director for bringing "the discipline and ethics of art-house independent moviemaking" to Hollywood blockbusters, calling him "living proof that you don't have to appeal to the lowest common denominator to be profitable".
In 2013 a survey of seventeen film academics showed that Nolan was among the most studied directors in Britain. His work has also been recognised as an influence on video games. Renowned video game designer Hideo Kojima compared Dunkirk to his own work: "Its approach to technology in movie making and refusal to rely on defeating one's enemies as a portrayal of war, reminds me in many ways of my work on Metal Gear and where I hope to see my next game go". Nolan appeared in Time's 100 most influential people in the world in 2015 and in the Forbes Celebrity 100 in 2011 and 2013.
Nolan screened Following at the 1999 Slamdance Film Festival, and won the Black & White Award. In 2014 he received the first-ever Founder's Award from the Festival. "Throughout his incredible successes, Christopher Nolan has stood firmly behind the Slamdance filmmaking community. We are honored to present him with Slamdance's inaugural Founder's Award", said Slamdance president and co-founder Peter Baxter. At the 2001 Sundance Film Festival, Nolan and his brother Jonathan won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award for Memento, and in 2003 Nolan received the Sonny Bono Visionary Award from the Palm Springs International Film Festival. Festival executive director Mitch Levine said, "Nolan had in his brief time as a feature film director, redefined and advanced the very language of cinema". He was named an Honorary Fellow of UCL in 2006, and received an honorary doctorate in literature (DLit) in 2017.
In 2009, the director received the Board of the Governors Award from the American Society of Cinematographers. ASC president Daryn Okada said, "Chris Nolan is infused with talent with which he masterfully uses to collaboratively create memorable motion pictures ... his quest for superlative images to tell stories has earned the admiration of our members." In 2011 Nolan received the Britannia Award for Artistic Excellence in Directing from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and the ACE Golden Eddie Filmmaker of the Year Award from American Cinema Editors. That year he also received the Modern Master Award, the highest honour presented by the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. The executive director of the festival Roger Durling stated: "Every one of Nolan's films has set a new standard for the film community, with Inception being the latest example." In addition, Nolan was the recipient of the inaugural VES Visionary Award from the Visual Effects Society. In July 2012 he became the youngest director to be honoured with a hand-and-footprint ceremony at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles.
The Art Directors Guild (ADG) selected Nolan as the recipient of its Cinematic Imagery Award in 2015, an honour given to those whose body of work has "richly enhanced the visual aspects of the movie-going experience". He was selected as the 2015 Class Day speaker at Princeton University. "Nolan, more than a film producer, is a thinker and visionary in our age and we are thrilled to have him deliver the keynote address," said Class Day co-chair Hanna Kim. Nolan was awarded the Empire Inspiration Award at the 20th Empire Awards. The director was also honoured with a retrospective at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. On 3 May 2017, Nolan received the 2017 FIAF Award before a special 70 mm screening of Interstellar at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. In 2018, Nolan was awarded the inaugural Vanguard Award from The Digital Entertainment Group, in recognition of his use of technology "to deliver increased scale and resolution, enhanced color and immersive audio to film audiences both in cinemas and in the home theater environment."
Critical, public and commercial reception to Nolan's directorial features as of 30 September 2018.
|Year||Film||Rotten Tomatoes||Metacritic||BFCA||CinemaScore||Budget||Box office|
|1998||Following||80% (7/10 average rating) (25 reviews)||60 (11 reviews)||N/A||N/A||$6 thousand||$240.4 thousand|
|2000||Memento||92% (8.2/10 average rating) (169 reviews)||80 (34 reviews)||90/100||N/A||$9 million||$39.7 million|
|2002||Insomnia||92% (7.7/10 average rating) (199 reviews)||78 (36 reviews)||93/100||B||$46 million||$113.7 million|
|2005||Batman Begins||84% (7.7/10 average rating) (275 reviews)||70 (41 reviews)||91/100||A||$150 million||$374.2 million|
|2006||The Prestige||75% (7.1/10 average rating) (195 reviews)||66 (36 reviews)||83/100||B||$40 million||$109.7 million|
|2008||The Dark Knight||94% (8.6/10 average rating) (333 reviews)||84 (39 reviews)||96/100||A||$185 million||$1.005 billion|
|2010||Inception||86% (8.1/10 average rating) (344 reviews)||74 (42 reviews)||94/100||B+||$160 million||$828.3 million|
|2012||The Dark Knight Rises||87% (8/10 average rating) (351 reviews)||78 (45 reviews)||91/100||A||$250 million||$1.085 billion|
|2014||Interstellar||72% (7/10 average rating) (337 reviews)||74 (46 reviews)||80/100||B+||$165 million||$677.5 million|
|2017||Dunkirk||92% (8.7/10 average rating) (413 reviews)||94 (53 reviews)||90/100||A−||$100 million||$527.3 million|
|2020||Untitled WB event film|
In 2016, Memento, The Dark Knight, and Inception appeared in BBC's 100 Greatest Films of the 21st Century list. In the following year, five of his (then nine) films featured in Empire magazine's poll of The 100 Greatest Movies.
Batman, in films, may refer to:
Batman (1966 film): directed by Leslie H. Martinson; starring Adam West, Burt Ward, Cesar Romero, Burgess Meredith
Batman (1989 film): directed by Tim Burton; starring Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger, Jack Palance
Batman Returns (1992): directed by Tim Burton; starring Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken
Batman Forever (1995): directed by Joel Schumacher; starring Val Kilmer, Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey, Nicole Kidman, Chris O'Donnell
Batman & Robin (1997): directed by Joel Schumacher; starring George Clooney, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chris O'Donnell, Uma Thurman, Alicia Silverstone
Batman Begins (2005): directed by Christopher Nolan; starring Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Gary Oldman, Rutger Hauer, Morgan Freeman
The Dark Knight (2008): directed by Christopher Nolan; starring Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Heath Ledger, Gary Oldman, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Morgan Freeman
The Dark Knight Rises (2012): directed by Christopher Nolan; starring Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016): directed by Zack Snyder; starring Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill
The Lego Batman Movie (2017): directed by Chris McKay; starring the voices of Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph FiennesBatman Begins
Batman Begins is a 2005 superhero film based on the DC Comics character Batman, directed by Christopher Nolan and written by Nolan and David S. Goyer. It stars Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Gary Oldman, Cillian Murphy, Tom Wilkinson, Rutger Hauer, Ken Watanabe, and Morgan Freeman. The film reboots the Batman film series, telling the origin story of Bruce Wayne from the death of his parents to his journey to become Batman and his fight to stop Ra's al Ghul and the Scarecrow from plunging Gotham City into chaos.
After a series of unsuccessful projects to resurrect Batman on screen following the critical failure of Batman & Robin (1997), Nolan and Goyer began work on the film in early 2003. Aiming for a darker, more realistic tone compared to the previous films, a primary goal for their vision was to engage the audience's emotional investment in both the Batman and Bruce Wayne identities of the lead character. The film, which was principally shot in the United Kingdom, Iceland and Chicago, relied heavily on traditional stunts and miniature effects, with computer-generated imagery being used in a minimal capacity compared to other action films. Comic book storylines such as The Man Who Falls, Batman: Year One and Batman: The Long Halloween served as inspiration.
Batman Begins opened on June 15, 2005, in the United States and Canada in 3,858 theaters. It grossed over $48 million in its opening weekend in North America, eventually grossing over $374 million worldwide. The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography and three BAFTA awards. It was followed by The Dark Knight (2008) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012), which constitute The Dark Knight Trilogy.Batman in film
The fictional superhero Batman, who appears in American comic books published by DC Comics, has appeared in various films since his inception. Created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger, the character first starred in two serial films in the 1940s: Batman and Batman and Robin. The character also appeared in the 1966 film Batman, which was a feature film adaptation of the 1960s Batman TV series starring Adam West and Burt Ward, who also starred in the film. Toward the end of the 1980s, the Warner Bros. studio began producing a series of feature films starring Batman, beginning with the 1989 film Batman, directed by Tim Burton and starring Michael Keaton. Burton and Keaton returned for the 1992 sequel Batman Returns, and in 1995, Joel Schumacher directed Batman Forever with Val Kilmer as Batman. Schumacher also directed the 1997 sequel Batman & Robin, which starred George Clooney. Batman & Robin was poorly received by both critics and fans, leading to the cancellation of Batman Unchained.Following the cancellation of two further film proposals, the franchise was rebooted in 2005 with Batman Begins, directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Christian Bale. Nolan returned to direct two further installments through the release of The Dark Knight in 2008 and The Dark Knight Rises in 2012, with Bale reprising his role in both films. Both sequels earned over $1 billion worldwide, making Batman the second film franchise to have two of its films earn more than $1 billion worldwide. Referred to as The Dark Knight Trilogy, the critical acclaim and commercial success of Nolan's films have been credited with restoring widespread popularity to the superhero, with the second installment considered one of the best superhero movies of all-time.
After Warner Bros. launched their own shared cinematic universe known as the DC Extended Universe in 2013, Ben Affleck was cast to portray Batman in the new expansive franchise, first appearing in 2016 with the Zack Snyder directed film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The film would help begin a sequence of further DC Comics adaptations, including Justice League, a crossover film featuring other DC Comics characters, in 2017, and a stand-alone Batman film directed by Matt Reeves. Dante Pereira-Olson will appear as Bruce Wayne in the 2019 film Joker, directed by Todd Phillips.Batman has also appeared in multiple animated films, both as a starring character and as an ensemble character. While most animated films were released direct-to-video, the 1993 animated feature Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, based on the 1990s Batman: The Animated Series, was released theatrically. Having earned a total of U.S. $2,407,708,129 the Batman series is the fifth-highest-grossing film series in North America.Doodlebug (film)
Doodlebug is a 1997 short psychological thriller film by Christopher Nolan.Dunkirk (2017 film)
Dunkirk is a 2017 war film written, directed, and produced by Christopher Nolan that depicts the Dunkirk evacuation of World War II. Its ensemble cast includes Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles, Aneurin Barnard, James D'Arcy, Barry Keoghan, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, and Tom Hardy. The film is a British-American-French-Dutch co-production, and was distributed by Warner Bros.
Dunkirk portrays the evacuation from three perspectives: land, sea, and air. It has little dialogue, as Nolan sought instead to create suspense from cinematography and music. Filming began in May 2016 in Dunkirk and ended that September in Los Angeles, when post-production began. Cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema shot the film on IMAX 65 mm and 65 mm large-format film stock. Dunkirk has extensive practical effects, and employed thousands of extras as well as historic boats from the evacuation, and period aeroplanes.
The film premiered on 13 July 2017 at Odeon Leicester Square in London, and was released in the United Kingdom and the United States on 21 July in IMAX, 70 mm, and 35 mm film formats. It is the highest-grossing World War II film, making $526 million worldwide. Dunkirk received praise for its screenplay, direction, musical score, sound effects, and cinematography; some critics called it Nolan's best work, and one of the greatest war films.
The film received eight nominations at the 23rd Critics' Choice Awards, winning for Best Editing, eight at the 71st British Academy Film Awards, winning for Best Sound, and three at the 75th Golden Globe Awards. At the 90th Academy Awards, it received eight nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director (Nolan's first Oscar nomination for directing); it went on to win for Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Film Editing.Emma Thomas
Emma Thomas (born 9 December 1971) is a British film producer, known for co-producing films such as The Prestige (2006), Inception (2010), The Dark Knight Trilogy (2005–2012), Interstellar (2014) and Dunkirk (2017). She frequently collaborates with her husband, filmmaker Christopher Nolan.Empire Award for Best Director
The Empire Award for Best Director is an Empire Award presented annually by the British film magazine Empire to honor directors working within the film industry. The Empire Award for Best Director is one of five ongoing awards which were first introduced at the 1st Empire Awards ceremony in 1996 (the others being Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Film and Best British Film) with Danny Boyle receiving the award for his direction of Shallow Grave. Winners are voted by the readers of Empire magazine.
Since its inception, the award has been given to 16 directors. Christopher Nolan has received the most awards in this category with three awards. Christopher Nolan and Peter Jackson were nominated on seven occasions, more than any other director. Kathryn Bigelow and Patty Jenkins are the only female directors to be nominated for the award. Rian Johnson is the most recent winner in this category for his direction of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.Following
Following is a 1998 British neo-noir crime thriller film written and directed by Christopher Nolan. It tells the story of a young man who follows strangers around the streets of London and is drawn into a criminal underworld when he fails to keep his distance.
As Christopher Nolan's debut feature, it was designed to be as inexpensive as possible to make. Scenes were heavily rehearsed so that just one or two takes were needed to economise on 16mm film stock, the production's greatest expense, and for which Nolan was paying from his salary. Unable to afford expensive professional lighting equipment, Nolan mostly used available light. Along with writing, directing, and photographing the film, Nolan also helped in editing and production.
Following was released by The Criterion Collection on both Blu-ray and DVD in North America on 11 December 2012.Inception
Inception is a 2010 science fiction action film written, co-produced, and directed by Christopher Nolan, and co-produced by Emma Thomas. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a professional thief who steals information by infiltrating the subconscious, and is offered a chance to have his criminal history erased as payment for the implantation of another person's idea into a target's subconscious. The ensemble cast additionally includes Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Dileep Rao, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger, and Michael Caine.
After the 2002 completion of Insomnia, Nolan presented to Warner Bros. a written 80-page treatment about a horror film envisioning "dream stealers" based on lucid dreaming. Deciding he needed more experience before tackling a production of this magnitude and complexity, Nolan retired the project and instead worked on 2005's Batman Begins, 2006's The Prestige, and The Dark Knight in 2008. The treatment was revised over 6 months and was purchased by Warner in February 2009. Inception was filmed in six countries, beginning in Tokyo on June 19 and ending in Canada on November 22. Its official budget was US$160 million, split between Warner Bros and Legendary. Nolan's reputation and success with The Dark Knight helped secure the film's US$100 million in advertising expenditure.
Inception's première was held in London on July 8, 2010; it was released in both conventional and IMAX theaters beginning on July 16, 2010. Inception grossed over US$828 million worldwide, becoming the fourth highest-grossing film of 2010. The home video market also had strong results, with US$68 million in DVD and Blu-ray sales. Inception opened to acclaim from critics, who praised its screenplay, visual effects, score, and ensemble cast. It won four Academy Awards for Best Cinematography, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Visual Effects, and was nominated for four more: Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Art Direction, and Best Original Score.Insomnia (2002 film)
Insomnia is a 2002 American mystery thriller film directed by Christopher Nolan, and starring Al Pacino, Robin Williams, and Hilary Swank. It tells the story of two Los Angeles homicide detectives investigating a murder in an Alaskan town. A remake of the 1997 Norwegian film of the same name, Insomnia was released on May 24, 2002, to critical acclaim and commercial success, grossing $113 million worldwide. As of 2018, this is the only film that Nolan has directed without receiving at least a share of one of the writing credits, even though he wrote the final draft of the script.Interstellar (film)
Interstellar is a 2014 science fiction film directed, co-written, and co-produced by Christopher Nolan. It stars Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Bill Irwin, Ellen Burstyn, and Michael Caine. Set in a dystopian future where humanity is struggling to survive, the film follows a group of astronauts who travel through a wormhole in search of a new home for humanity.
Brothers Christopher and Jonathan Nolan wrote the screenplay, which had its origins in a script Jonathan developed in 2007. Christopher produced Interstellar with his wife, Emma Thomas, through their production company Syncopy, and with Lynda Obst through Lynda Obst Productions. Caltech theoretical physicist Kip Thorne was an executive producer, acted as scientific consultant, and wrote a tie-in book, The Science of Interstellar. Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros., and Legendary Pictures co-financed the film. Cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema shot it on 35 mm in anamorphic format and IMAX 70 mm. Principal photography began in late 2013 and took place in Alberta (Canada), Iceland and Los Angeles. Interstellar uses extensive practical and miniature effects and the company Double Negative created additional digital effects.
Interstellar premiered on October 26, 2014, in Los Angeles, California. In the United States, it was first released on film stock, expanding to venues using digital projectors. The film had a worldwide gross of over $677 million, making it the tenth-highest-grossing film of 2014. Interstellar received critical praise for its themes, visual effects, musical score, and acting. At the 87th Academy Awards, the film won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, and was nominated for Best Original Score, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing and Best Production Design.Jonathan Nolan
Jonathan "Jonah" Nolan (born 6 June 1976) is a British-American screenwriter, television producer, director and author. He is the creator of the CBS science fiction series Person of Interest (2011–2016) and co-creator of the HBO science fiction western series Westworld (2016–present).
Nolan has collaborated on several films with his brother, director Christopher Nolan, who adapted Jonathan's short story "Memento Mori" into the neo-noir thriller film Memento (2000). Together, the siblings co-wrote the mystery thriller film The Prestige (2006), the superhero films The Dark Knight (2008) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012), and the science fiction film Interstellar (2014).
Nolan was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for Memento, and for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series and Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series for Westworld, among a number of other awards.Lee Smith (editor)
Lee Smith (born June 10, 1960) is an Australian film editor who has worked in the film industry since the 1980s. He began his film career as a sound editor on such films as Dead Calm (1989), The Piano (1993), The Portrait of a Lady (1996) and Holy Smoke! (1999). During breaks he started editing films like Robocop 2 (1990). Smith has served as editor for all of Christopher Nolan's feature films, since Batman Begins (2005).Memento (film)
Memento is a 2000 American neo-noir psychological thriller film written and directed by Christopher Nolan, and produced by Suzanne and Jennifer Todd. The film's script was based on a pitch by Jonathan Nolan, who later wrote the story "Memento Mori" from the concept. It stars Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Joe Pantoliano.
Pearce stars as a man who, as a result of a past trauma, has anterograde amnesia (the inability to form new memories) and has short-term memory loss approximately every five minutes. He is searching for the persons who attacked him and killed his wife, using an intricate system of Polaroid photographs and tattoos to track information he cannot remember. Memento is presented as two different sequences of scenes interspersed during the film: a series in black-and-white that is shown chronologically, and a series of color sequences shown in reverse order (simulating for the audience the mental state of the protagonist). The two sequences meet at the end of the film, producing one complete and cohesive narrative.Memento premiered on September 5, 2000, at the Venice International Film Festival and was released in European theaters starting in October. It was acclaimed by critics who praised its nonlinear narrative structure and motifs of memory, perception, grief, and self-deception, and earned $39.7 million over a $9 million budget. It received numerous accolades, including Academy Award nominations for Best Original Screenplay and Best Film Editing. The film was subsequently ranked one of the best films of the 2000s by several critics and media outlets. In 2016 it was voted 25th among 100 films considered the best of the 21st century by 117 film critics from around the world. Memento was considered "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" by the US Library of Congress and was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry in 2017, the first narrative feature film from the 2000s to be honored.Syncopy Inc.
Syncopy Films Inc. is a British film production company based in London, England. The company was founded by film director, screenwriter and producer Christopher Nolan and his wife Emma Thomas. The name Syncopy Films derives from "syncope", the medical term for fainting or loss of consciousness.The Dark Knight (film)
The Dark Knight is a 2008 superhero film directed, co-produced, and co-written by Christopher Nolan. Based on the DC Comics character Batman, the film is the second part of Nolan's The Dark Knight Trilogy and a sequel to 2005's Batman Begins, starring an ensemble cast including Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Heath Ledger, Gary Oldman, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Morgan Freeman. In the film, Bruce Wayne / Batman (Bale), Police Lieutenant James Gordon (Oldman) and District Attorney Harvey Dent (Eckhart) form an alliance to dismantle organized crime in Gotham City, but are menaced by an anarchist mastermind known as the Joker (Ledger), who seeks to undermine Batman's influence and turn the city to chaos.
Nolan's inspiration for the film was the Joker's comic book debut in 1940, the 1988 graphic novel The Killing Joke, and the 1996 series The Long Halloween, which retold Two-Face's origin. The "Dark Knight" nickname was first applied to Batman in Batman #1 (1940), in a story written by Bill Finger. The Dark Knight was filmed primarily in Chicago, as well as in several other locations in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Hong Kong. Nolan used IMAX 70 mm film cameras to film some sequences, including the Joker's first appearance in the film. Warner Bros. initially created a viral marketing campaign for The Dark Knight, developing promotional websites and trailers highlighting screenshots of Ledger as the Joker. Ledger died on January 22, 2008, some months after the completed filming and six months before the film's release from a toxic combination of prescription drugs, leading to intense attention from the press and movie-going public.
A co-production of the United States and the United Kingdom, The Dark Knight was released on July 18, 2008 in the United States and on July 25, 2008 in the United Kingdom. Film critics considered it one of the best films of its decade and one of the best superhero films of all time; the film received highly positive reviews, particularly for its action, score, screenplay, performances (particularly Ledger's), visual effects, and direction, setting numerous records during its theatrical run. The Dark Knight appeared on 287 critics' top ten lists, more than any other film of 2008 with the exception of WALL-E, and more critics (77) named The Dark Knight the best film released that year. With over $1 billion in revenue worldwide, it became the highest-grossing film of 2008 and is the 37th highest-grossing film of all time, unadjusted for inflation (4th at the time of release); it also set the record for highest-grossing domestic opening with $158 million, a record it held for three years. The film received eight Academy Award nominations; it won the award for Best Sound Editing and Ledger was posthumously awarded Best Supporting Actor. In 2016 it was voted 33rd among 100 films considered the best of the 21st century by 117 film critics from around the world. The Dark Knight Rises, the final film in the trilogy, was released on July 20, 2012.The Dark Knight Rises
The Dark Knight Rises is a 2012 American-British superhero film directed by Christopher Nolan, who co-wrote the screenplay with his brother Jonathan Nolan, and the story with David S. Goyer. Featuring the DC Comics character Batman, the film is the final installment in Nolan's The Dark Knight Trilogy, and the sequel to The Dark Knight (2008). Christian Bale stars as Bruce Wayne / Batman, alongside Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Morgan Freeman. Eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, merciless revolutionary Bane forces an older Bruce Wayne to resume his role as Batman and save Gotham City from nuclear destruction.
Christopher Nolan was hesitant about returning to the series for a second time, but agreed after developing a story with his brother and Goyer that he felt would conclude the series on a satisfactory note. Nolan drew inspiration from Bane's comic book debut in the 1993 "Knightfall" storyline, the 1986 series The Dark Knight Returns, and the 1999 storyline "No Man's Land". Filming took place from May to November 2011 in locations including Jodhpur, London, Nottingham, Glasgow, Los Angeles, New York City, Newark, and Pittsburgh. Nolan used IMAX 70 mm film cameras for much of the filming, including the first six minutes of the film, to optimize the quality of the picture. A vehicle variation of the Batplane and Batcopter termed the "Bat", an underground prison set, and a new Batcave set were created specifically for the film. As with The Dark Knight, viral marketing campaigns began early during production. When filming concluded, Warner Bros. refocused its campaign: developing promotional websites, releasing the first six minutes of the film, screening theatrical trailers, and sending out information regarding the film's plot.
The Dark Knight Rises premiered in New York City on July 16, 2012. The film was released in the United States and the United Kingdom on July 20, 2012. It received positive reviews; the consensus at Rotten Tomatoes calls it "ambitious, thoughtful, and potent". The film has grossed over $1 billion worldwide, making it the second film in the Batman film series to earn $1 billion. In addition to being Nolan's highest-grossing film, it is the 25th highest-grossing film of all time (7th at the time of release), the third highest-grossing film of 2012, the highest-grossing Batman film of all time, the ninth highest-grossing superhero film, as well as the second highest-grossing DC Comics film of all time.The Prestige (film)
The Prestige is a 2006 psychological thriller film directed by Christopher Nolan from a screenplay adapted by his brother Jonathan from Christopher Priest's 1995 novel of the same name. Its story follows Robert Angier and Alfred Borden, rival stage magicians in London at the end of the 19th century. Obsessed with creating the best stage illusion, they engage in competitive one-upmanship with tragic results and a renowned twist ending.
The film stars Hugh Jackman as Robert Angier, Christian Bale as Alfred Borden, and David Bowie as Nikola Tesla. It also stars Scarlett Johansson, Michael Caine, Piper Perabo, Andy Serkis, and Rebecca Hall. The film reunites Nolan with actors Bale and Caine from Batman Begins and returning cinematographer Wally Pfister, production designer Nathan Crowley, and editor Lee Smith.
The film was released on October 20, 2006, receiving positive reviews and strong box office results, and received Academy Award nominations for Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction. Along with The Illusionist and Scoop, The Prestige was one of three films released in 2006 to explore the world of stage magicians.Wally Pfister
Walter C. Pfister, ASC (born July 8, 1961) is an American cinematographer and director, who is best known for his work with Christopher Nolan. Pfister won an Academy Award for Best Cinematography for Inception (2010). Pfister is also known for his work on director F. Gary Gray's The Italian Job and Bennett Miller's Moneyball. Pfister made his directorial debut with Transcendence (2014), through Alcon Entertainment. He has also directed commercials and television, including episodes of Flaked and The Tick.