Christopher Nolan is one of the most acclaimed filmmakers of the 21st century and among the highest grossing directors of all-time.
His work on the Dark Knight trilogy as well as movies including The Prestige, Inception and Dunkirk brought him blockbuster success as well as an Oscar nomination.
Now, the 48-year-old can add a CBE to his already illustrious CV after being recognised for services to film in the New Year Honours.
Nolan, born in London to a British father and American mother, read English at University College London (UCL), choosing the school because of its filmmaking facilities.
It is also where he met his future wife, Emma Thomas, with whom he has four children and runs a production company, Syncopy.
While at UCL, Nolan was president of the film society and produced short films while studying.
In a 2005 interview with The Guardian, Nolan, who holds dual UK and US nationality, lamented the lack of support he received in the country of his birth while trying to break through in the film industry, reflecting: “But there’s a very limited pool of finance in the UK. To be honest, it’s a very clubby kind of place. In Hollywood there’s a great openness, almost a voracious appetite for new people.
“In England there’s a great suspicion of the new. In cultural terms, that can be a good thing, but when you’re trying to break into the film industry, it’s definitely a bad thing.”
Despite the perceived lack of support, Nolan did break through, making his directorial debut with 1998’s Following. Two years later came Memento, the film that unlocked Hollywood for Nolan.
It stars Guy Pearce as a man suffering memory loss, desperately trying to discover who attacked him and killed his wife. The film received two Academy Award nominations, for best original screenplay and best film editing, as well as being a blockbuster success.
Following the well-received Memento, Nolan directed Insomnia, a psychological thriller starring Al Pacino as a detective on the hunt for a killer in an Alaskan town.
It was another critical and commercial smash, the beginning of a gilded run for Nolan. In 2005 he made the first film in the Dark Knight trilogy, with Christian Bale playing the titular role in Batman Begins.
That was followed by drama The Prestige in 2006, which starred Bale and Hugh Jackman as two rival magicians in Victorian London. The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises followed in 2008 and 2012 respectively, with both films grossing more than one billion US dollars worldwide.
In 2010 Nolan directed sci-fi action film Inception, which starred Leonardo DiCaprio as a professional thief who steals ideas from victims’ unconsciousness.
The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards, winning four. Nolan received his first best director Oscar nomination for 2017’s Dunkirk, which depicts the Allies’ retreat from the beaches and harbour of Dunkirk during the Second World War.