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Biography of Christopher Nolan

Christopher Nolan Edward CBE (born on July 30, 1970) is a British-American film director known for creating personal, distinctive films within the Hollywood mainstream. His directorial efforts have grossed over $4.7 billion worldwide and earned a total of 34 Oscar nominations with ten wins.

Born and raised in London, Nolan developed an interest in filmmaking from a young age. After studying English literature at University College London, he made his debut with Following (1998). Nolan gained international recognition with his second film, Memento (2000), for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

He transitioned from independent cinema to studio filmmaking with Insomnia (2002) and found greater critical and commercial success with The Dark Knight Trilogy (2005–2012), The Prestige (2006), and Inception (2010), which received eight Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. This was followed by Interstellar (2014) and Dunkirk (2017), the latter earning him Academy Award nominations for Best Picture and Best Director.

Nolan’s films often delve into epistemological and metaphysical themes, exploring human morality, the construction of time, and the malleable nature of memory and personal identity. His work is infused with mathematically inspired imagery and concepts, unconventional narrative structures, practical special effects, experimental soundscapes, large-format film photography, and materialist perspectives. He has co-written several of his films with his brother Jonathan and co-founded the production company Syncopy Inc. with his wife Emma Thomas.

Nolan has received numerous awards and honors. Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2015, and in 2019, he was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his services to film production.

Life and Career

1970–1997: Early Life and Career Beginnings

Nolan was born in Westminster, London, and grew up in Highgate. His father, Brendan James Nolan, was a British advertising executive working as a creative director. His mother, Christina (née Jensen), was an American flight attendant who later worked as an English teacher. Nolan’s childhood was divided between London and Evanston, Illinois, and he holds both British and American citizenship. He has an older brother, Matthew Francis Nolan, a convicted criminal, and a younger brother, Jonathan. Growing up, Nolan was particularly influenced by the work of Ridley Scott and the science fiction films 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Star Wars (1977).

He began making films at the age of seven, borrowing his father’s Super 8 camera to shoot short films with his action figures. These films included a stop-motion animated tribute to Star Wars called Space Wars. He ousted his brother Jonathan and constructed sets from «clay, flour, egg cartons, and toilet paper rolls.»

His uncle, who worked at NASA building guidance systems for the Apollo rockets, sent him some footage of the launches: «I re-filmed them off the screen and cut them together, thinking no one would notice,» Nolan later remarked. Since the age of eleven, he aspired to be a professional filmmaker. In his teens, Nolan started making films with Adrien and Roko Belic. Nolan and Roko co-directed the surrealist 8mm film Tarantella (1989), which was showcased on Image Union, an independent film and video exhibition on Public Broadcasting Service.

Nolan attended University College London and used its Flaxman Gallery for a scene in Inception (2010).
Nolan was educated at Haileybury and Imperial Service College, an independent school in Hertford Heath, Hertfordshire, and later studied English literature at University College London (UCL).

Opting for a traditional film education, he sought «a degree in something unrelated… because it gives you a different perspective on things.» He specifically chose UCL for its filmmaking facilities, which included a Steenbeck editing suite and 16mm film cameras. Nolan served as president of the Union Film Society, and with Emma Thomas (his girlfriend and future wife), he screened 35mm films during the school year and used the earned money to produce 16mm films during the summers.

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. In 1995, he began working on the short film Larceny, shot over a weekend in black and white with limited equipment and a small cast and crew. Financed by Nolan and shot with the society’s equipment, it appeared at the Cambridge Film Festival in 1996 and is considered one of the best UCL shorts. He filmed a third short, Doodlebug (1997), about a man chasing an insect around a flat with a shoe, only to discover upon killing it that it is a miniature version of himself.

Nolan and Thomas made their first attempt at a feature film in the mid-90s, an «artistic» student angst film called Larry Mahoney, which was scrapped and never released. During this period of his career, Nolan had little to no success in getting his projects off the ground; he later recalled the «stack of rejection letters» that greeted his early forays into filmmaking, adding that «there’s a very limited pool of finance in the UK. To be honest, it’s a very clubby place… I never had any support from the British film industry.»

1998–2003: Breakthrough

In 1998, Nolan released his first feature film, Following. He wrote, directed, shot, and edited the film, which depicts an unemployed young writer (Jeremy Theobald) who tracks strangers through London, hoping they will provide material for his first novel but becomes entangled in a criminal underworld when he can’t keep his distance.

The film was inspired by Nolan’s experience of living in London and having his apartment burgled: «There’s 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 bounds of ordinary social relationships.» Co-produced by Nolan with Emma Thomas and Jeremy Theobald, it was financed by him and made with a modest budget of £3,000. Most of the cast and crew were Nolan’s friends, and the shoots took place on weekends over the course of a year. To conserve film stock, each scene in the film was extensively rehearsed to ensure that the first or second take could be used in the final edit.

Following won several awards during the festival and was well-received by critics; The New Yorker wrote that it «echoed Hitchcock classics» but was «thinner and meaner.» Janet Maslin of The New York Times was impressed with its «sober look» and agile handheld camerawork, stating, «As a result, the actors convincingly perform the modes before, during, and after the film finally, and artistically, intertwines.» On December 11, 2012, it was released on DVD and Blu-ray as part of The Criterion Collection.

Following the success of Following, Nolan allowed himself the opportunity to make Memento (2000), which became his breakthrough film. The synopsis came from his brother Jonathan, who pitched the idea to Nolan during a road trip about a man with anterograde amnesia who uses notes and tattoos to track down his wife’s killer. Jonathan turned the idea into a short story, «Memento Mori» (2001), while Nolan developed it into a screenplay that told the story in reverse. Aaron Ryder, an executive at Newmarket Films, said it was «perhaps the most innovative script I’d ever seen.» The film was greenlit and received a budget of $4.5 million, with Guy Pearce and Carrie-Anne Moss in the lead roles.

Memento premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September 2000 to critical acclaim. Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal wrote in his review, «I can’t remember when a movie has seemed so smart, strangely funny, and cunningly fun all at the 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 identity, a theme Nolan explores in the film. The movie was a box office success and received numerous accolades, including Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for its screenplay, Independent Spirit Awards for Best Director and Best Screenplay, and a Directors Guild of America (DGA) nomination. Memento was considered by many critics as 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, 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 experienced 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 budget of $46 million, it was described as «a much more conventional Hollywood movie than anything [Nolan had] done before.»

A remake of the 1997 Norwegian film of the same name, Insomnia follows 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 movie for presenting new perspectives and ideas on themes of morality and guilt, stating that «Unlike most remakes, Nolan’s 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 pleased with Nolan’s version, calling it a «well-made, smart movie… with a very good director handling it.» Time’s Richard Schickel considered Insomnia a «worthy successor» to Memento and «a triumph of atmosphere over not-too-mysterious mystery.»

After Insomnia, Nolan planned a biographical film about Howard Hughes starring Jim Carrey. He wrote a script, which he said was «the best script I’ve ever written,» but when he learned that Martin Scorsese was making a biographical film about Hughes (2004’s The Aviator), he reluctantly submitted 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 he planned to direct for Fox Searchlight Pictures but ultimately abandoned the project, citing similarities with his previous films. Nolan was also adapting a film version of The Prisoner but later dropped the project.

2003-2013: Hollywood Success

In early 2003, Nolan approached Warner Bros. with the idea of making a new Batman film. Fascinated by the character and the story, he wanted to create a film based in a «relatable» world that would resemble more of a classic drama than a comic book fantasy. Filming took place in 2004, and Nolan heavily relied on practical stunts and miniatures, with computer-generated imagery used to a minimal extent.

Batman Begins, the largest project Nolan had undertaken at that point, premiered in June 2005 to critical acclaim and commercial success. Starring Christian Bale in the lead role, along with Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, and Liam Neeson, the film revived the franchise, heralding a trend toward darker films that rebooted (or retold) origin stories. Praised for its psychological depth and contemporary relevance, Kyle Smith of The New York Post called it «a wake-up call to those who keep giving us cute capers about guys in tights smiling in the face of superhero movies.»

Batman Begins was the eighth-highest-grossing film of 2005 in the United States and the ninth-highest-grossing film globally for the year. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography and three BAFTA Awards. On the film’s tenth anniversary, Forbes published an article describing its lasting influence: «Rebooting became part of our modern vocabulary, and superhero origin stories became increasingly fashionable for the genre. The phrase ‘dark and gritty’ also joined the cinematic lexicon, influencing our perception of different storytelling approaches not only in the comic book film genre but also across various other genres.»

Before returning to the Batman franchise for a sequel, Nolan directed, co-wrote, and produced The Prestige (2006), an adaptation of Christopher Priest’s novel about two rival magicians in the 19th century. The script was the result of a five-year intermittent collaboration between him and his brother Jonathan, who had started writing it in 2001. Nolan had initially intended to make the film as early as 2003 but had postponed the project after agreeing to do Batman Begins. Starring Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale in the lead roles, The Prestige received critical acclaim and grossed over $109 million worldwide. Roger Ebert described it as «a complete film: atmospheric, obsessive, almost Satanic,» and Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times called it an «ambitious and confounding melodrama.» Philip French wrote in his review for The Guardian: «In addition to the intellectual or philosophical excitement it engenders, The Prestige is thrilling, suspenseful, mysterious, moving, and often darkly funny.» The Prestige also received Academy Award nominations for Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction.

In 2006, Nolan announced that the sequel to Batman Begins would be called The Dark Knight. Approaching the sequel, Nolan wanted to expand on the noir quality of the first film by broadening the canvas and taking on «the dynamics of a city story, a great crime story… where you’re looking at the police, the justice system, the vigilante, the poor people, the rich people, the criminals.» Released in July 2008 to critical acclaim, The Dark Knight has been cited as one of the best films of the 2000s and one of the greatest superhero films ever made.

Manohla Dargis of The New York Times found that the film has higher artistic merit than many Hollywood blockbusters: «Faced with the divide between art and industry, poetry and entertainment, it becomes darker and deeper than any Hollywood comic-book movie of its kind.» Ebert expressed a similar view, describing it as a «haunted film that leaps beyond its origins and becomes a fascinating tragedy.» The Dark Knight set several box office records during its theatrical run, earning $534,858,444 in North America and $469,700,000 overseas, for a worldwide total of $1,004,558,444. At the 81st Academy Awards, the film received eight Oscar nominations, winning two: the Academy Award for Best Sound Editing and a posthumous Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Heath Ledger. Nolan received numerous awards and nominations for his work on the film. In 2018, Bilge Ebiri of The Village Voice wrote, «Its politics have been discussed to infinity. Its stylistic influence has become omnipresent, then passé, then somehow aspirational… The Dark Knight is perhaps the most powerful exploration of guilt that modern American blockbusters have given us.»

After the success of The Dark Knight, Warner Bros. signed Nolan to direct Inception (2010). Nolan also wrote and co-produced the film, described as «a contemporary science fiction heist thriller set within the architecture of the mind.» Starring an ensemble cast led by Leonardo DiCaprio, the film became a critical and commercial success upon its release in July 2010. Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film a perfect «A+» score 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 box office hits and art can be the same thing.» The film ultimately grossed over $820 million worldwide and received eight Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay; it won the awards for Best Cinematography, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing, and Best Visual Effects. Nolan also received nominations at the BAFTA Awards and Golden Globe Awards, among other accolades.

In 2012, Nolan directed his third and final Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises, with Christian Bale reprising the lead role. Although Nolan initially hesitated 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 conclude the series on a high note. The film was released in July 2012 to positive reviews; Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir called it «possibly the biggest, darkest, most thrilling and disturbing show ever created for the screen» and described the work as «an auteur spectacle on a scale never before possible and never before attempted.» The Associated Press’s Christy Lemire wrote in her review that Nolan concluded his trilogy in a «typically spectacular and ambitious» manner but disliked the «overloaded» plot and excessive severity. Like its predecessor, the film was a box office success, becoming the thirteenth film to reach the billion-dollar mark. During a midnight screening of the film at the Century 16 theater in Aurora, Colorado, an armed man opened fire inside the theater, killing 12 people and injuring 58 others. Nolan issued a statement to the press expressing condolences for the victims of what he described as a senseless tragedy.

During discussions about the story of The Dark Knight Rises in 2010, Goyer told Nolan his idea to introduce Superman in a modern context. Impressed with Goyer’s initial concept, Nolan pitched the idea for Man of Steel (2013) to Warner Bros., who hired Nolan to produce and Zack Snyder to direct. Starring Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Kevin Costner, Russell Crowe, and Michael Shannon, Man of Steel grossed over $660 million at the global box office but received a divided critical response. Despite the mixed reviews, Nolan was thoroughly impressed by Snyder’s work, stating that the director «knocked it out of the park» and believed the film had the same potential to excite audiences as when he saw Christopher Reeve’s version in 1978.

2014-present: Established Box Office Success

Next, Nolan directed, wrote, and produced the science fiction film Interstellar (2014). The initial script drafts were written by Jonathan Nolan, and it was originally directed by Steven Spielberg. Based on the scientific theories of theoretical physicist Kip Thorne, the film follows a group of astronauts traveling through a wormhole in search of a new home for humanity. Interstellar, starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Bill Irwin, Michael Caine, and Ellen Burstyn, was Nolan’s first collaboration with cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema. Interstellar was released in November 2014 with 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, brimming with visual dazzle, thematic ambition… is a futuristic adventure and a radical one driven by grief, fear, and regret.»
Documentarian Toni Myers said of the film, «I loved it because it tackled the hardest part of human exploration, which is multigenerational travel. It was a true work of art.» Interstellar was particularly praised for its scientific accuracy, leading to the publication of two scientific papers and the American Journal of Physics requesting 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. In 2014, Nolan and Emma Thomas also served as executive producers on Transcendence (2014), the directorial debut of Nolan’s longtime cinematographer, Wally Pfister. The film was released with mostly unfavorable reviews and disappointing box office results.

In the mid-2010s, Nolan engaged in various ventures for the preservation and distribution of films by lesser-known filmmakers. His production company, Syncopy, formed a joint venture with Zeitgeist Films to release Blu-ray editions of Zeitgeist’s prestigious titles. As part of the Blu-ray release of the animated films of Brothers Quay, Nolan directed the documentary short film Quay (2015). He also initiated a theatrical tour, showcasing the Quays’ films ‘In Absentia,’ ‘The Comb,’ and ‘Street of Crocodiles.’ The program and Nolan’s short received critical acclaim, with Indiewire writing in its review that the brothers «will undoubtedly have hundreds, if not thousands more admirers because of Nolan, and thus The Quay Brothers in 35mm will always be one of the latter’s most significant contributions to cinema.»

As an advocate for the survival of analog media, Nolan and visual artist Tacita Dean invited representatives from major American film archives, labs, and presentation institutions to participate in an informal summit titled Reframing the Future of Film at the Getty Museum in March 2015. Subsequent events were held at the Tate Modern in London, Museo Tamayo in Mexico City, and the Tata Theatre in Mumbai. In 2015, Nolan also joined the board of The Film Foundation, a U.S.-based non-profit organization dedicated to film preservation, and was appointed, along with Martin Scorsese, by the Library of Congress to serve on the National Film Preservation Board (NFPB) as representatives of the DGA.

After serving as an executive producer alongside Thomas on Zack Snyder’s Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) and Justice League (2017), sequels to Man of Steel, Nolan returned to directing with Dunkirk (2017). Based on his own original script and co-produced with Thomas, the story unfolds amid World War II and the evacuation of Allied soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk, France, in 1940. Describing the film as a survival tale with a triptych structure, Nolan wanted to make a «sensory, almost experimental» movie with minimal dialogue. He said he waited to make Dunkirk until he earned the trust of a major studio to let him do it as a British film but with an American budget.

Before filming, Nolan sought advice from Spielberg, who later said in an interview with Variety, «knowing and respecting that Chris [Nolan] is one of the most imaginative filmmakers in the world, my advice to him was to put his imagination, as I did with Ryan, in the second position to the research he was doing to authentically absorb 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 in July 2017 to critical acclaim and strong box office results.

It grossed 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 is 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 films, they are rare, that take you out of your current circumstances and immerse you so completely in another experience that you watch in a state of astonishment. Dunkirk is that kind of film.» The film received widespread praise, including Nolan’s first Oscar nomination for Best Director.

In the months following the 2017-18 Oscar season, Nolan began overseeing a new 70mm print of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), starting from the original camera negative; he presented it at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. While at Cannes, the director also conducted a two-hour masterclass at the Palais des Festivals. USA Today noted that he was received «like a rock star» and with prolonged standing ovation. In 2019, Nolan served as an executive producer on The Doll’s Breath, an animated short directed by the Quay brothers.

Upcoming Projects

Nolan’s eleventh film, «Tenet,» is scheduled for release in July 2020. Nolan wrote the screenplay and is producing it with Emma Thomas. The film stars John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Dimple Kapadia, Clémence Poésy, Kenneth Branagh, and Michael Caine.


Nolan’s films often delve into existential and epistemological themes, exploring concepts of time, memory, and identity. His work is characterized by mathematically inspired ideas and images, unconventional narrative structures, materialistic perspectives, and an evocative use of music and sound. Film theorist David Bordwell opined that Nolan has been able to blend his «experimental impulses» with the demands of conventional entertainment, further describing his work as «experiments with cinematic time through techniques of subjective viewpoint and cross-cutting.» Nolan’s use of practical in-camera effects, miniatures, and models, as well as shooting on celluloid film, has been highly influential in early 21st-century cinema. IndieWire wrote in 2019 that the director has «kept alive a viable alternative model of big-budget cinema» in an era where big-budget cinema has become «largely computer-generated artwork.»

Personal Life

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 has four children and resides in Los Angeles, California. Guarding 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 state of nuclear weapons and environmental issues that, according to him, need addressing. He has also expressed admiration for scientific objectivity, wishing it would be applied «in all aspects of our civilization.»

Nolan prefers not to use a mobile phone or email, stating: «It’s not that I’m a Luddite and dislike technology; it’s just never interested me… When I moved to Los Angeles in 1997, nobody really had cell phones, and I never went down that path.» He also prohibits the use of phones on set.


Having crafted some of the most influential and popular films of his time, Nolan’s work has been as «embrace[d], dissect[ed], and fiercely debated by ordinary film fans as by film critics and academics.» Several of his films have been hailed by critics as the best of their respective decades, and according to The Wall Street Journal, his «ability to combine box office success with artistic ambition has given him an extraordinary amount of influence in the industry.» In 2016, «Memento,» «The Dark Knight,» and «Inception» appeared on BBC’s list of the 100 greatest films of the 21st century. The following year, five of his (then nine) films made it into Empire magazine’s «100 Greatest Movies» survey. Nolan has been described as «American cinema’s most experimental box-office author» and a «franchise unto himself.»

Geoff Andrew of the British Film Institute and Sight & Sound magazine called Nolan «a persuasively inventive storyteller» and singled him out as one of the few contemporary filmmakers producing highly personal films within the mainstream of Hollywood. He noted that Nolan’s films are notable for their «considerable technical virtuosity and visual talent» as well as their «brilliant narrative ingenuity and unusually adult interest in complex philosophical issues.» David Bordwell observed that Nolan is «considered one of the most successful living filmmakers,» citing his ability to turn genre films into art films and events, as well as his box office numbers, critical acclaim, and popularity among cinephiles. In 2008, film critic Philip French deemed Nolan «the first great talent to emerge in this [21st] century,» while Forbes called him «one of the most successful and acclaimed filmmakers of our time» in 2015. Film critic Mark Kermode commended the director for bringing «the discipline and work ethic of indie art filmmaking» to Hollywood blockbusters, calling him «living proof that you don’t have to resort to the lowest common denominator to be profitable.» The Observer described Nolan as a «skillful and elegant storyteller, able to combine Spielbergian spectacle with the intellectual complexity of Nicolas Roeg or Alain Resnais.» Mark Cousins praised the director for embracing big ideas, stating, «Hollywood filmmakers generally avoid ideas, but not Christopher Nolan.» Variety’s Scott Foundas declared Nolan «the foremost storyteller of big canvases of his generation,» [190] while Justin Chang of the Los Angeles Times dubbed him «the great processor of 21st-century blockbuster cinema, a lover of crazy minutiae.»

The filmmaker has been praised by many of his contemporaries, with some citing his work as influential. Rupert Wyatt stated in an interview that he thinks Nolan is a «trailblazer… he must be greatly admired as a master filmmaker, but also someone who’s given those behind him a stick to beat detractors who never thought a modern mass audience would be willing to embrace story and character as much as spectacle.» Kenneth Branagh hailed Nolan’s approach to large-scale cinematography as «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’s become a heroic figure both to the public and to people working behind the camera.» Michael Mann congratulated Nolan on 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 usually denies itself; Nolan works in the commercial realm, and yet there’s something very poetic about his work.» Martin Scorsese identified Nolan as a filmmaker who creates «beautifully made large-scale films,» and Luca Guadagnino called him «one of the very best auteurs.» Nolan said, «Here’s a filmmaker who has managed, time and again, to make the seemingly impersonal projects, mind-benders in deep space, feel deeply personal.» Olivier Assayas admired Nolan for «making films that are really different from anything else. In my view, he has a really authentic voice.» Speaking of the difference between art films and big studio blockbusters, Steven Spielberg referred to Nolan’s Dark Knight series as an example of both; he has described «Memento» and «Inception» as «masterpieces.» Denis Villeneuve said of Nolan: «[He] is a very impressive filmmaker because he’s able to maintain his identity and create his own universe on that large scope… To bring intellectual concepts and bring them to that scope on screen right now – It’s very rare. Every film he comes out with, I have more admiration for his work.»

Awards and Honors

Nolan was named an honorary fellow of UCL in 2006 and was conferred an honorary Doctor of Literature (DLit) in 2017. In 2012, he became the youngest director to receive a hand and footprint ceremony at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles. Nolan appeared on Time’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2015.

Nolan was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) with all honors in the 2019 New Year Honours for his services to filmmaking.


  • Following (1998)
  • Memento (2000)
  • Insomnia (2002)
  • Batman Begins (2005)
  • The Prestige (2006)
  • The Dark Knight (2008)
  • Inception (2010)
  • The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
  • Interstellar (2014)
  • Dunkirk (2017)
  • Tenet (2020)
  • Oppenheimer (2023)


Nolan has continued his collaboration with the Belic brothers, receiving a credit for his editorial assistance on their Oscar-nominated documentary, «Genghis Blues» (1999). Nolan also worked alongside Roko Belic to document a safari in four African countries, organized by the late photojournalist Dan Eldon in the early 1990s.

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