Dune Director Praises Christopher Nolan, Calls Tenet A Masterpiece


There are plenty of similarities to be drawn between Denis Villenueve and Christopher Nolan. Both are Academy Award-nominated directors that have established themselves as two of the most distinct visual talents in the business, painting epic and ambitious stories on a massive scale.

They also have a affinity for the James Bond franchise that dates back to childhood, although Villenueve admits he’d love to tackle 007, whereas Nolan has spent the last 15 years continually ruling himself out. There was even talk that the Dune architect could have ended up directing The Batman, which would have added another striking parallel to their respective careers.

Nolan has become so good at his job that Tenet is the worst-reviewed entry in his filmography and lowest-grossing film since 2006’s The Prestige. And that’s despite winding up with a solid Rotten Tomatoes score of 70 percent and earning $363 million at the box office after releasing when the pandemic was at its height.

In a new interview with The Playlist, Villenueve defended Nolan and Tenet to the hilt, calling the time-bending action thriller a modern masterpiece.

“I was blown away by Tenet I think it’s a masterpiece. I think it’s a movie that’s an incredible cinematic achievement. I think that it’s a very complex movie, I had so much fun, I saw it several times and each time it was a blast and I think the level of mastery of Christopher Nolan is unmatched. He is by far one of the best filmmakers working in the world today because people don’t realize the eye-level of his cinematic mastery, it’s crazy. It’s crazy.

Every time Chris puts a movie on screen, I have to see it on the big screen. Of course, I saw Tenet in the theaters. You can’t watch a Nolan movie at home, that’s like, that makes absolutely no sense. You have to, at first, receive the full impact of a Nolan movie in a theater. It’s really fascinating to see him evolving from one movie to another and always pushing the envelope, technically, narratively, and always reinventing himself. For me, it’s deeply inspiring to see that master at work.”

Another thing they have in common is that they both blasted Warner Bros. for the HBO Max experiment, but Nolan has upped sticks and headed over to Universal for Oppenheimer to end his 20-year association with the studio, while Villenueve is staying put in the hopes Dune: Part Two gets a green light. Nonetheless, praise for Tenet must be flattering for Nolan, even if his track record as a filmmaker remains stellar as ever.