Christopher Nolan is currently Hollywood’s golden boy, with his high-concept action thriller Inception topping the U.S. box office for the third weekend in a row. He’s captured the geek contingent, the critics, and mainstream audiences, and he’s done it with his own original work, not some wankfest adaptation of a video game or a comic book. MTV quotes box-office analyst Jeff Bock, who says, “Nolan, with each successive multilayered effort, is looking more and more like a cinematic wunderkind – capable of having a storybook career in Hollywood and joining the elite ranks of a Steven Spielberg, a James Cameron, or a Martin Scorsese.”
And now he’s set to become the highest-grossing British director ever, at least domestically. According to Box Office Mojo, he’s within spitting distance – $47 million – of matching the current Brit leader, Sir Ridley Scott. Yes, the Ridley Scott of Blade Runner, Alien, Gladiator, Thelma & Louise, and American Gangster fame. (Granted, over half of Nolan’s domestic grosses come from The Dark Knight, which was a $500 million once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon.) If Inception maintains its miniscule weekend drops, Nolan could shrink that $47 million margin within the month.
I’m not a huge fan of Nolan – The Dark Knight was an utter snooze, and I found Inception, with its dazzling setpieces, more diverting than deep. My favorite Nolan remains Insomnia, which had Al Pacino facing off against Robin Williams without – gasp! – a ton of scenery chewing. For that achievement alone, Nolan deserved an Oscar.