7 Films That Inspired, Resemble, or Were Directed by Christopher Nolan

In honour of the release of Oppenheimer...


This edition of The Watchlist is a love letter to one of our favourite directors, Christopher Nolan, in honour of the release of Oppenheimer this weekend. Whether you’ll be seeing the film because you’re a devoted Nolanite or simply a Barbenheimer groupie, we want to make sure you’re ready.

We’ve compiled a list of seven film recommendations from movies that have inspired the master director to ones similar to Oppenheimer to ones directed by Nolan himself that you may have missed.

As always if you’ve already seen our suggestions check out the “If You Liked” section to discover more!

Oppenheimer anxious to see our recommendations.

Lawrence of Arabia

Genre: Historical Drama
Director: David Lean

Lawrence of Arabia trying to get to the cinema early for Oppenheimer.

This historical epic is one of the grandest and most lavish films in all of cinema history. Nolan has named it one of his favourite films ever and even an inspiration for Batman Begins, curiously enough.

Similar to Oppenheimer in its vast scope and significance, it tells the story of how one man shaped the fortunes of many while dehydrating in a desert… pretty impressive.

Try your best not to watch this one on your phone with the cracked screen because the landscapes are pretty awe-inspiring.

Dr. Strangelove

Genre: War/Comedy
Director: Stanley Kubrick

The PR team behind Barbenheimer at work.

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb would be a fitting sequel to Oppenheimer. Kubrick’s outlandish satire puts us at the heart of a crisis that would see the world as we know it come to an end.

Kubrick had originally intended the film to be a serious action drama about nuclear war, but thankfully for us, he changed course completely.

If Oppenheimer leaves you stressed out by humanity’s future prospects check this one out as soon as you can.

The Imitation Game

Genre: Historical Drama
Director: Morten Tyldum

Alan Turing trying to figure out what you meant by “OK” in your text.

Across the ocean from Oppenheimer, another great mind was hard at work to defeat the Nazis. Alan Turing, a British guy who’s really great with numbers, was tasked with breaking the unbreakable German enigma code so that people could finally read their German ex’s texts.

It’s a great companion piece to Nolan’s film as both real-life protagonists contributed substantially to ending World War II and under great time restrictions as well.

Watch them both instead of buying that overpriced self-help book on how to stop procrastinating.

All Quiet on the Western Front

Genre: War/Drama
Director: Edward Berger

How it felt when Netflix put a stop to password sharing.

This 2022 German-language drama, which won the Best International Feature Film at the Academy Awards, is a brutal vision of war.

Set during World War I, it depicts a young German soldier, Paul, who at first looks forward to being part of the conflict but quickly finds out he’d rather have stayed at home playing Minecraft.

The 1930 English-language version of this film directed by Lewis Milestone has served as a huge inspiration to Nolan over the years.

You can stream this one on Netflix, by the way!


Genre: War/Drama
Director: Christopher Nolan

Everyone trying to take cover from A.I.

Dunkirk is one of those films that’ll have you in a constant state of anxiety; each scene is like a tea kettle about to boil over. This nail-biter about primarily British (but also French and Belgian) soldiers attempting to evacuate Dunkirk prior to a German bombardment is one of Nolan’s best.

It’s a super relatable film if you’ve ever been stuck at a really crowded beach and just felt like getting back to your air-conditioned living room, but obviously with much higher stakes.

A must-see before Oppenheimer, if you missed this one back in 2017!

Hiroshima, mon amour

Genre: Drama/Romance
Director: Alain Resnais

Debating whether to Netflix and Chill after dinner.

With a screenplay penned by the famous French novelist Marguerite Duras, this film holds a special place in the French New Wave. It documents a love story between a French actress and a Japanese architect in postwar Hiroshima.

Told in a mesmerising flashback structure, it’s a sensual and devastating film to watch. It has a dreamlike quality that’s bound to stick with you.

Best viewed a few days after you’ve had time to process Oppenheimer.

A Hidden Life

Genre: Historical Drama
Director: Terrence Malick

Hoping to get IMAX tickets for Oppenheimer before they sell out.

Hidden away in the lush green hills of Austria during World War II, Franz Jägerstätter refuses to fight for the Nazis. His radical pacifist stance gets him in trouble with those in his community who think he’s just a lazy treehugger.

An important film to watch alongside Oppenheimer as it shows the other side of the coin: the power of choosing not to do something.

Directed by the genius that is Terrence Malick this one will leave you thinking about what it means to challenge authority in the most difficult of times.

If You Liked…

Lawrence of Arabia: Braveheart (1995), Hidalgo (2004), Queen of the Desert (2015)

Dr. Strange Love: Full Metal Jacket (1987), The Men Who Stare at Goats (2009), War Machine (2017)

The Imitation Game: A Beautiful Mind (2001), The Theory of Everything (2014), The Man Who Knew Infinity (2015)

All Quiet on the Western Front: The Deer Hunter (1978), Waltz with Bashir (2008), Fury (2014)

Dunkirk: Saving Private Ryan (1998), Unbroken (2014), 1917 (2019)

Hiroshima, mon amour: The English Patient (1996), The Reader (2008), Frantz (2016)

A Hidden Life: The Tree of Life (2011), Testament of Youth (2014), Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

Thanks as always for reading our humble little newsletter. We’re loving writing it and watching it slowly grow.

We’ll be back in your inbox next Friday with a look at what’s new in the world of cinema and streaming.

Until then, enjoy Oppenheimer and have a lovely weekend.

The Watchlist x