Originally Posted by QUENTIN
Some bad movies are well-directed, some good movies are not well-directed. Some movies are inhibited by poor direction but have other elements working for them like a great performance or story or cinematography or score, etc. There isn't a 1:1 correlation between a movie's quality and a director's talent or skill.
Memento is a great movie and Nolan's direction is totally decent if unexceptional (it's the script that makes it sing), Insomnia is also pretty well-directed if I recall correctly. His "direction" of The Prestige, and especially The Dark Knight and Inception is largely abysmal, often ruining what might otherwise be interesting. I think he's pretty inept and to be reductive but brief, "covers action" rather than "directs movies." That none of his movies are terrible, some are fine, and one I even love doesn't mean I must think he's a good director.
He's bad at eliciting strong performances even from very talented actors, he's bad at staging and blocking and filming scenes, he's bad at establishing and maintaining tone and pacing, he's bad at human drama and emotion, he's bad at line editing, thus he's a bad director. You don't have to be making all 2/10 Pauly Shore movies to be incompetent.
That's a beautifully balanced takedown of Nolan. I like everything he's done except Memento a tad less than you do, but even if one is entertained by his movies, there's very little of his direction that can be reasonably considered a valuable asset to his work. As you said, he didn't screw up Memento by any means, but there's nothing noteworthy there in terms of direction.
As to the whole topic... I can envision a world in which Aranofsky ends up making the single best movie of the three (which hasn't happened yet), but Fincher is the best director of the three by a country mile.