Many viewers and fans of Nolan’s work are hailing the recently released Oppenheimer, starring Cillian Murphy, as one of his best works, and they’re not wrong. But then again, Christopher Nolan has no other works but the best—the same applies to 1998’s Following, which is Nolan’s earliest work.
Opinions are inherently subjective, and while some might champion movies like Dark Knight, the “best” really depends on what resonates most with the largest group of viewers. This leaves us with 2010’s Inception, a cinematic sci-fi journey that blends the beloved heist genre with the mind-bending exploration of the subconscious mind through a field that intrigues both the scientific community and regular Joes and Janes—the field of dreams.
The story of Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece revolves around Dom Cobb, portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio, a skilled “extractor” who enters his targets’ dream to steal the most valuable assets of the modern age—their deepest secrets and secret information.
Inception is cinematic sci-fi journey that blends the beloved heist genre with the mind-bending exploration of the subconscious mind
However, Cobb’s final task is somewhat unprecedented, as he has to plant an idea in someone’s mind—hence the film’s name, Inception. Though dreams have been explored in movies before, Inception breaks the formulaic approach of many cinematic blockbusters by offering an intricate narrative puzzle for viewers to enjoy.
What makes Christopher Nolan’s Inception stand out even more in the seas of other movies centered around dreams is its exploration of deep and meaningful philosophical and emotional themes. There’s the nature of reality and the fragility of memory—which is almost always more beautiful or less horrific than reality. The movie also explores the burdens of guilt and the transformative power of personal catharsis of the film’s main character, otherwise haunted by the memories of his dead wife.
So, beyond the intellectual challenges the movie offers, Christopher Nolan’s Inception is a typical movie story about a man grappling with immense guilt over his wife’s death—a result of an inception gone wrong—and his quest for redemption.
This emotional layer makes Inception relatable, ensuring that it’s more than just a philosophical discussion but also an emotional journey for the viewers. The added concepts of information extraction and Inception through dreams are nothing but a narrative tool, at least from this perspective, that keeps the audience’s interests piqued.
The movie’s ambiguous ending remains a hot topic of conversation to this day
To be entirely honest, the plot device is a bit complex, but it provides fertile ground for the movie’s ambiguous ending, which remains a hot topic of conversation to this day, making the film relevant a whole decade after its release. But Inception is a masterpiece in more ways than one, and the movie looks fantastic from a visual perspective.
Audiences are treated with gravity-defying fight scenes in rotating hotel hallways and breathtaking, shifting landscapes of the dream world—all of which are meaningfully integrated inside the movie’s story.
All of these elements make Inception a testament to Christopher Nolan’s storytelling prowess, and it’s truly one of the best movies he ever made, apart from The Dark Knight, of course.
However, we would be amiss not to mention Interstellar. As stated in the opening paragraphs, opinions are subjective, and yours truly are the nerdiest of the nerdy—the themes of space exploration paired with black holes, time travel, and space and time conundrums are something we personally enjoy as well.
There’s no doubt that Oppenheimer is a masterpiece. However, the true test of a masterpiece is time (pun intended), and only time will tell just how great this movie is. Until then, its success is fueled by the hype and controversies surrounding the release—it still hasn’t received an official release date in Japan—and we can’t possibly call it Christopher Nolan’s best movie so far. Though, if we’re being honest, Oppenheimer has the potential to overthrow even The Dark Knight and establish itself as a true masterpiece of cinematography.
In all, were we to pick one movie as Christopher Nolan’s best, it would have to be Inception. From its unique take on a well-traveled theme to its performances, to the mind-bending action, this movie really has it all.