by Kyle Arango
I’ve got thoughts, and I have a ton of them. Some fall in line with the majority opinion, and others are completely my own. That’s where this comes in. Time for a segment I like to call Kyle’s Hot Take of the Week. This week I am ready for the backlash so here we go!
Hot Take – Christopher Nolan is not the Greatest Director Working Today
Hotter Take – He’s not even top 3
Yeah I said it internet. The love fest for Christopher Nolan needs to cool down. While a great director and someone who has a unique voice that is unlike anyone directing cinema today, we need to stop treating him like he is the second coming. I do not dislike Christopher Nolan at all, he is actually one of my favorite directors, what I do dislike is this overzealous fanbase on the internet that attack you like a pack of wolves when you point out the truth that “Hey, Nolan has made a couple of clunkers”.
This whole love affair for Christopher Nolan I believe started back when The Dark Knight came out. Widely celebrated as one of the best films of the 21stcentury and until recently, had no competition to the greatest comic book film of all-time mantle. Completely deserved. The Dark Knight is an excellent film. I have issues with the Two Face storyline at the end, but it doesn’t take away from the film itself. I point this film out because The Dark Knight has Batman, and Batman belongs to DC Comics which has an overly passionate fanbase. A fanbase which is passionate to a fault and will blindly celebrate anything involving their characters, just look at the Snyder Cut cult online. As soon as they saw this filmmaker make something as impressive as The Dark Knight with their beloved character, they jumped aboard his hype train and never let go, even when he has missteps.
For a couple years the praise was warranted. Nolan’s filmography to a point was impeccable with titles including Memento, The Prestige, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and Inception. Then the Dark Knight Rises came out and that’s when everything fell off the rails. The Dark Knight Rises is not a good movie. It is an enjoyable one with captivating performances from Tom Hardy and Anne Hathaway, but it has more holes in the plot then a kiddie pool full of porcupines. Stuff doesn’t make sense, characters jump across distances in no time at all,and I still don’t understand the café at the end. Nolan never wanted to do this film in the first place, and you can see that in just how lazy the plot is. Nonetheless, people still love it because it has Batman, so the hype train continued.
Interstellar then came out and while a solid film,it was nowhere near his best and it kind of gets forgotten in some circles. The biggest indicator to me that he was not perfect was Dunkirk. To this day I am still baffled at how much Nolan fans defend this film. One of the hallmarks of a good film is characters and their development. They are the lifeblood of the story and without them, the story is boring. That is exactly what happened in Dunkirk. Can you seriously tell me the name of any character in this film? I remember Murph or Bruce Wayne or Cobb from Nolan’s other films, but nobody from Dunkirk. It is a risk to tell a story with a bunch of plain, nameless characters that Nolan took and it did not payoff. With no character, I had nobody to latch onto and root to survive. It is sad to say but I didn’t care if they lived or died because I did not know who they were. The argument of “well that’s how war is like, people don’t sit around and talk to each other” is so ignorant. How many wars have you been in? If you have, did you not know the names of your comrades? If they had a family? Goals? Purpose? Or were they just bodies taking up space? I don’t care if Dunkirk is how you think war actually is, it is not how you make a good film. Then you add in that ticking and I want to rip my hair out.
Now let’s get to the top three take. Most people have Nolan number one, but he’s not close. Let’s take out the classic directors for a second like Spielberg, Scorsese, and Tarantino for arguments sake and focus on the newer directors of Nolan’s generation to today. I’d argue David Fincher is a more accomplished director. Same with Paul Thomas Anderson. Denis Villeneuve is doing what Nolan is doing but better in my opinion. I’d take Prisoners, Sicario, Arrival, and Blade Runner 2049 over most of Nolan’s films. Even the Hispanic directors like Alfonso Cuaron or Alejandro G. Iñárritu are in the conversation. Mix these guys with the classic directors, and I’d say Nolan fits in at maybe number five or six. He’s not far down the list, but certainly not number one.
So the point of all this was to show my disdain for the Nolan fanbase. Before Dark Knight Rises came out, I was on that train, but we have to admit he has stumbled since. Even Francis Ford Coppola stumbled and he has yet to recover. Apocalypse Now drained the life out of him and has yet to get anywhere close to those films. I will always look forward to what he does next and be excited when I sit down in the theater, but can we stop acting like he hasn’t made a bad film? Put it this way, had Nolan never directed a Batman movie, would you still celebrate him the way you do now?