Response: Is Christopher Nolan overrated?

Knowing my penchant for argument, my friend sent me this ScoopWhoop article claiming Christopher Nolan as a vastly overrated filmmaker early today Morning:

As any true Christopher Nolan worshiper, I have the compulsion to reply to this article with my own.

First of all, the article starts by stating a quote by Oscar Wilde – “Every effect that one produces gives one an enemy. To be popular, one must be a mediocrity” and then goes on to compare Christopher Nolan to leaders like Stanley Kubrick and Spielberg. Does this mean they also attained popularity by mediocrity? I’m starting to sense hypocrisy already.

The author Supriyo Mukherjee argues that Chris’s brother Jonathan Nolan is the real genius behind Christopher’s masterpieces. While I will agree completely that Jonathan is a genius of his own accord which is evident with (as Supriyo points out) Person of Interest and WestWorld, I will also leave the following data here (if anyone cares):


MovieDirectorCo-Writer?Sole Writer?
Jurassic Park Steven Spielberg
Catch Me If You Can Steven Spielberg
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Steven Spielberg
Full Metal Jacket Stanley Kubrick
The Shining Stanley Kubrick
Spartacus Stanley Kubrick
2001: A Space Odyssey Stanley Kubrick
Psycho Alfred Hitchcock
Vertigo Alfred Hitchcock
Dial M for Murder Alfred Hitchcock

Meanwhile, Christopher Nolan’s filmography [Wiki]

MovieCo-Writer?Sole Screenwriter?
Batman Begins
The Prestige
The Dark Knight
The Dark Knight Rises


You can see how that some of the most iconic movies of all time by legendary filmmakers Kubrick, Spielberg and Hitchcock are actually not written solely by themselves. Same goes for Chris although the only difference can be that most of Nolan’s films are written by Jonathan. So he has a good brother, what’s your problem with that?

Claiming that Christopher Nolan’s films are not emotionally built on can be answered easily:

>Memento happens because Leo’s wife was murdered. He strives for vengeance.

>Insomnia shows Dormer’s remorse and subsequent loss of sleep after an accidental homicide.

> The Prestige shows the dedication of Borden that makes him such a great magician.

> The Dark Knight trilogy is a story of loss and finding one’s self again.

> Inception shows a Cob willing to do anything to reunite with his children.

> Interstellar… Well that’s very obvious if you’ve seen the movie.

Chris’s movies refuses to have emotion that is dramatic and overplayed. Instead, it is subtle and embedded with the plot itself. It doesn’t put him OVER the other directors we’ve mentioned – in fact there is no contest. It only proves that these points cannot undermine Christopher Nolan’s fame as overrated publicity.

The only other criticism that Nolan can have is that he is commercially successful and he probably has more commercial audience than most other leading filmmakers. Christopher Nolan is unique in a way that he appeals to both the intellectual and the general audience alike. His films have subtleties that aren’t easily noticeable and are only visible the second or third time around.

Why do people still argue that Christopher Nolan is overrated?

It’s because people are always prone to complain about what they have now against what they used to have. The only difference is now that millennials are not ready to accept anything at face value – in fact they are ready to reject things faster than accept. We like to challenge authority and superiority. While that is generally a good thing, I do not know if I’ll stand by when someone undermines the superiority of one of the greatest, if not the greatest filmmakers of our time. I’m open to be challenged for this statement too. Comment away!

Featured image borrowed from Indhu Kanth’s Behance!

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