Christopher Nolan snuck up on me, which seems silly given that his movies have grossed $5 billion worldwide. It's not that I'm unaware of him ... the last time I did a Best Directors list, he came in at #52. Interstellar is the 10th Christopher Nolan movie I've seen, and I liked them all, especially Dunkirk and The Dark Knight. But when I decided to watch Interstellar, I gave little thought to the director or that I liked him. Hopefully, the next time I watch one of his movies, I'll know in advance that he is one of my favorites. (Even though it was just a couple of years ago that I saw one of his movies and made some vague comment about how he slips under my radar ... I really am going to remember him, now.)
Interstellar is extravagant in so many ways. It's a complicated science-fiction story (that doesn't always make sense, but whattya expect). It's a special-effects marvel that relies less on CGI than usual. It's a big, cosmic tale that nonetheless finds time for human touches ... in fact, you could argue the film is more about family and reconciliation than it is about saving the human species. It gets corny more than once, but Nolan is fearless.
The most obvious comparison is with 2001, a film I have gone up and down with for decades. I've come to accept that it's a good movie, but it is not a great movie. Neither is Interstellar, but where Kubrick dehumanizes his story so much that the only lively character is a computer, Nolan shows people crying with heartfelt emotion. Again, it gets soppy at times, but I find this preferable to the sterile vision of Kubrick.
I'm still not sure why I missed Interstellar until now ... it's that odd thing, a box office smash that is also a cult favorite.