The Illusionist - August 18, 2006
The Prestige - October 20, 2006;
The Prestige and The Illusionist are both period dramas about magicians with two-word titles that start with "the." Besides that though, they actually don't share much in common. The former film focuses on the bitter rivalry between two magicians, while the latter film focuses on a forbidden romance and the resulting political intrigue it causes.
Both movies were very well-received at the box office. The Prestige, which was directed by Christopher Nolan, managed to make nearly $110 million on a budget of only $40 million. The Illusionist was even more successful relative to its size, earning $87 million against a $17 million budget. Critically, The Prestige earned a 76% fresh rating, while The Illusionist earned a nearly comparable 74% fresh rating.
In this case, picking a winner is pretty subjective. Both movies did well financially and critically, so it comes down to simple preference, which is why The Prestige is our winner. The way the movie unfolds like a magic trick, keeping you guessing the whole time, is a perfect example of the kind of complex and crafty narratives that Christopher Nolan does best.
Winner = The Prestige.