Nolan began his Batman trilogy with Batman Begins, a film which gave way to a new era of comic book movies. It told the origin story of the caped crusader, explaining his motives for becoming a crime fighting bat through great narrative and acting. The Dark Knight improved on this film in pretty much every way imaginable. The special effects included flipping a truck over in the middle of a Chicago street and blowing up an actual hospital. The story, written by Nolan and his brother, told the story of a conflicted Batman. The people of Gotham are sick of looking up to a vigilante, and crime seems to be getting worse opposed to better. Bruce Wayne begins to look for a way out, seeing DA Harvey Dent as Gotham's 'White Knight'- a hero with a face. Then there's the Joker. Heath Ledger's posthumous Oscar-winning performance not only inspired many Halloween costumes, but will also be remembered as one of the greatest pieces of acting ever. The emotional and ethical decisions presented in the film coupled with Nolan's style and his outstanding cast make this one of my favorite movies ever, and one of the best in the past decade.
Two years after the incredibly successful The Dark Knight came Inception. At first seen as a risky move by the studio, Chris Nolan was granted a tremendous amount of artistic freedom. With Inception, the risk paid off. One of the most original movies ever, Inception had a brilliant story that played with the viewers so much it took much thought afterwards to fully understand the movie. Inception also had amazing effects, including the CGI sequence where Paris folds over itself, and the actually staged scenes- for example the anti-gravity hallway fight. Inception had a great line up of actors as well. Lead by Leonardo DiCaprio, Inception's cast (including Oscar winners Marion Cottilard and Michael Caine) had great chemistry and fit their respective roles brilliantly. The movie opened to critical acclaim and was almost immediately rated among the top 10 greatest films ever on IMDB, only a few places behind The Shawshank Redemption and The Godfather.
Both of these films contain conflicted heroes. Bruce Wayne battles with the concept of being Batman in a time when he is both needed and hated, while Dom Cobb fights the inner conflict of the memories from his dead wife, while dealing with the task at hand in the real world. Both films have distinct visual styles, The Dark Knight with its more gritty and dark feel, yet somehow still smoothed off- like beautifully controlled and orchestrated chaos. Inception is more of a visual collage, with each dream level taking on a new identity on screen.
Now, for a more head-to-head breakdown.
The acting in both movies is superb. Christian Bale is the best Bruce Wayne yet, balancing the alter ego and true identity masterfully. Leonardo DiCaprio is also not too shabby as Dom Cobb. An actor capable of great emotional depth, DiCaprio really bring Cobb's character to life. The Dark Knight may have a slight edge in terms of supporting actors. Marion Cottilard and Ellen Page are a little better than Maggie Gyllenhaal, but not by much. What really turns in Batman's favorite here is the incredible Joker character, inspiringly written and masterfully acted, the Joker will forever remain one of the most iconic film villains of all time.
Both of these movies also have great storylines and very well written scripts. The Dark Knight brings to life Batman and the Joker’s conflict like never before. The movie is written with a poetic brilliance virtually unknown to superhero films. The story is compelling and allows the actors and the effects to shine. The same rings true for Inception. A truly original and brilliant screenplay lets Nolan brings viewers on a special ride through the world of dreams. The actors and effects are great here too, as Nolan writes and directs for both critics and the general public alike. People love his films as they are both artistically and conventionally genius. Inception's storyline was so good it was nominated for Best Original Screenplay, but shamefully the Academy didn't give Nolan the statuette.
It's almost impossible to choose which of these movies is the better one. As I said earlier, they share a lot in common, but simultaneously differ from one another. Both contain overlapping cast and crew members, from Hans Zimmer to cinematographer Wally Pfister. Both deal with conflicted heroes, questioning reality and bending the rules. In the end, I give the award for best Christopher Nolan film to...Inception. Despite the brilliant formulation and execution of The Dark Knight, Inception has managed a narrow victory. Inception is Chris Nolan's brainchild, the product of ten years of hard work. The Dark Knight will always hold a special place in my heart and will forever be a landmark in comic book to film adaptation, but it won’t carry quite the same legacy as Inception. The first time I saw Inception, I knew I was witnessing something special. It was one of the best-written and original films I'd seen in my life. The pieces to the puzzle fit together like clockwork as Chris Nolan pulled us through his masterpiece. With great acting, effects, writing, directing, cinematography, and its wonderful story I think that Inception is the best movie of Christopher Nolan's career (so far), and one of the best films of the decade.