How Did Christopher Nolan Become One of the Greatest Directors of Our Time?

Christopher Nolan attends the screening of "Sink Or Swim (Le Grand Bain)" during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 13, 2018 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Tony Barson/FilmMagic)

The summer months traditionally see the release of many of the most anticipated movies of the entire year, but the 2020 coronavirus pandemic brought all those traditions to a screeching halt when movie theaters all over the world had no choice but to close their doors to protect their staff and the public. Christopher Nolan’s long-awaited science fiction thriller Tenet was one of many potential blockbusters put on hold this summer, and the studio — with the support of its award-winning director — chose to keep the anticipation bubbling by delaying the film’s theatrical release rather than settle for an on-demand, digital release.

The famed filmmaker and screenwriter, who often collaborates with brother Jonathan Nolan, has a deep love for cinema and loves to tell stories with complex — dare we say baffling? — ideas. That may sound like a strange approach, but his films tend to quickly change the minds of doubters. He has ventured into the philosophical and fanciful realm of dreams (Inception), manipulated perceived reality (The Prestige), explored the concept of memory (Memento) and tackled the complexities of identity (The Dark Knight). Interstellar played with the idea of malleable time, and fans can’t wait to see where Tenet and its concept of reversing time will take them next. 

Nolan has never been afraid to tell his stories in unconventional ways using everything from inventive narrative structures to astonishing camera work. In a movie-making era dominated by computer generated special effects, green screens and digital filming, he has remained true to his love of celluloid film and practical, camera-based effects that use miniatures and minimal CGI. He prefers filming on location over studio shoots and often uses handheld cameras and documentary-style lighting to create a specific look

After several schedule bumps, Tenet is currently set to premiere on August 26 in some parts of the world, followed by a September 3 release in select U.S. cities and a September 4 release in China. Nolan's previous films have earned $4.7 billion worldwide and garnered 34 Oscar nominations with 10 wins as well as hundreds of international film awards. The budget for Tenet reportedly exceeds $200 million, which studio execs hope to quickly recover once the film finally releases. With the premiere (hopefully) drawing near, now is the perfect time to take a look at the film credits that prove Christopher Nolan is one of the greats.