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Top 10 Christopher Nolan Movie Moments

VO: Matthew Wende
Written by Nathan Sharp Christopher Nolan has cemented himself as one of the most beloved film directors of our time, but of all the moments from his incredible list of films, which is our favourite? WatchMojo presents the Top 10 Christopher Nolan Movie Moments! But what will take the top spot on our list? Will it be the Rotating Hallway from 'Inception', inside the tesseract in 'Interstellar', or the Joker interrogation scene from 'The Dark Knight'? Watch to find out! Watch on WatchMojo: Big thanks to theXLR8entertainment for suggesting this idea, and to see how WatchMojo users voted, check out the suggest page here: WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top10+Christopher+Nolan+moments

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He’s one of the most imaginative directors working today, and these moments capture him at his very best. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 Christopher Nolan movie moments.

For this list, in celebration of Nolan’s war film Dunkirk, we’ll be looking at the best scenes from his filmography and ranking them based on factors like technical merit, emotional impact, and dramatic intensity.

#10: Plane Heist
“The Dark Knight Rises” (2012)

Kicking off our list is the scene that jumpstarts the final chapter of Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. This scene slowly builds in tension; complete with Bane’s terrifying reveal and the famous “for you” line before it all gets underway as Bane’s men storm the plane. The scene is a technical marvel, as it was filmed without the use of CGI after months of planning, which makes the action all the more breathtaking. Nolan has said this scene is the one he’s most proud of in his career so far, and it’s not hard to see why.

#9: The Twist/The Beginning at the End
“Memento” (2001)

Most movies follow a chronological order. But for this film, Nolan decides to buck tradition and have the story be told backwards. “Memento” is about a man suffering from amnesia who goes hunting for his wife’s killer. To simulate his state of mind, most of the film is shown in reverse order. This all comes together beautifully at the end, when the movie finishes where it began. In a fantastic twist, we learn that Leonard has been setting himself up to chase a false lead to keep himself occupied. It’s a brilliant ending, and it shows just how much of a complex and meticulous writer Nolan can be.

#8: The Phone Call
“Insomnia” (2002)

When you think of Christopher Nolan, you certainly don’t also think of Robin Williams, but here we are. “Insomnia” focuses on the murder of a teenager in a small Alaskan town, and in this scene, Robin Williams calls Al Pacino and details the murder, explaining how he beat her to death in a fit of rage. It lacks the flashy filmmaking Nolan is known for, yet the performances of both Pacino and Williams make the scene unbearably tense. Sometimes all you need to make a scene pop is fantastic writing and magnetic performances, and this scene has them both in spades.

#7: Cobb’s Plan is Revealed
“Following” (1998)

“Following” was Nolan’s directorial debut and was made for a measly $6,000, yet it’s still brimming with his signature flair and detailed writing style. When an unemployed writer begins stalking people on the street, he inadvertently follows a serial thief, Cobb, and is sucked into the world of burglary. In the end, not only is the protagonist duped by a gangster’s girlfriend and Cobb, but it’s then revealed that Cobb has duped them both before he vanishes into the streets. It’s an early example of Nolan’s ability to shock viewers with a fascinating twist, and proves that he had it from the very beginning.

#6: Abracadabra
“The Prestige” (2006)

And that’s how you leave the audience with their mouths hanging open. “The Prestige” follows two magicians who attempt to one-up each other with their illusions, so it’s only fitting that the entire movie was basically one giant magic trick. Nolan pulls the rug out from under us about a thousand times, and it’s all fascinating. But perhaps the best moment comes at the end, when it’s revealed that Borden wasn’t just one man, but a pair of identical twins – proving that it WAS a double all along. Sometimes the most obvious answer is the correct one, yet Nolan fooled us all the same.

#5: The Joker’s Bank Robbery
“The Dark Knight” (2008)

The opening bank robbery scene is a fantastic introduction both to the Joker and to the movie as a whole, as it features a little bit of everything – excitement, horror, intrigue, and even humour. We watch in fascination as the robbers meticulously perform their duties before double crossing and killing each other. Oh, and then a freaking school bus crashes through the wall of the bank. It’s here where the Joker takes off his mask and reveals himself in one of the movie’s most memorable images. All of this is shot and staged exceptionally well, leaving us with no doubt that Nolan is a master of exciting introductions.

#4: The Ending
“Inception” (2010)

Nolan not only knows how to kickstart his movies, but how to end them as well. Case in point, “Inception”. The sequence with the characters riding the synchronized kick is a thing of filmmaking beauty, complete with some of the finest editing of Nolan’s career. After a brief scene with Cobb, they wake up on the plane, giving us a moment to breathe and reflect on what we just experienced before watching Cobb clear customs. The movie then opens the tear ducts when he reunites with his children. It’s a roller coaster of emotions, especially with the spinning top, which continues to spin as the film cuts to black.

#3: The Tesseract
“Interstellar” (2014)

“Interstellar” certainly isn’t short on mind-blowing scenes, but perhaps none are as impactful as the tesseract sequence. This scene is a perfect combination of everything that makes Nolan a fantastic filmmaker. There are the extraordinary visual effects; the terrific sound design; the heartbreaking performance from Matthew McConaughey; the twist that Cooper was Murph’s ghost, and the overall imagination at work. It hits both the heart and the brain in equal measure, serving as proof of the magic that highly skilled and inventive filmmaking can create.

#2: The Joker Interrogation
“The Dark Knight” (2008)

When you think of “The Dark Knight,” a handful of scenes surely spring to mind, and the interrogation sequence is undoubtedly one of them. In it, Batman brutally interrogates the Joker before he reveals that Rachel and Harvey are being held in different locations with a ton of explosives. This scene showcases some fantastic pieces of acting, and the story implications leave us all on the edge of our seats, just waiting to see what else the Joker has up his sleeve. When someone calls superhero movies childish, just throw on this bad boy and prove them otherwise.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

The Escape from the Temple
“Batman Begins” (2005)

Home Videos
“Interstellar” (2014)

Lightbulb Experiment
“The Prestige” (2006)

#1: Rotating Hallway
“Inception” (2010)

In what was easily the most stylish scene in an already extravagant movie, the rotating hallway is without a doubt one of the finest action set pieces in years. This sequence sees Arthur fighting a guy in a rotating hotel hallway, due to Arthur spinning in another layer of the dream. It’s a master class of both editing and action staging, and it’s even more impressive considering that they filmed inside a constructed rotating hallway to give it a look of authenticity. Nolan always goes all out, both in technical terms and creativity, and the rotating hallway is a fantastic example of both.

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