10 Best David Lynch Movies

The 10 best David Lynch movies cover the full range of his unique filmic vision, mixing the mundane and the strange, the beautiful and the unsettling. From the aptly straightforward "Straight Story" to the dream-like cognitive dissonance of "Mulholland Drive" and "Inland Empire" and the odd romantic center of "Wild at Heart," here are the 10 best David Lynch movies to hit the screen in the decades since his debut.

  1. "Blue Velvet" (1986) – If you've never seen a David Lynch movie before, this is the one to begin with, its surreal mystery a perfect guide into the director's psyche. Dennis Hopper revived his career with the role he played in this film, the villainous and violent Frank Booth.
  2. "Mulholland Drive" (2001) – This cinematic fever dream featured a star-making turn by Australian actress Naomi Watts in a dual role as the innocent, naive Betty and the used-up, Hollywood-abused Diane. It is probably the film that most captures the fantasy world just under the surface of Hollywood.
  3. "The Straight Story" (1999) – Based on the true story of a elderly man who drove hundreds of miles on a tractor to visit his sick brother, this film belongs on the list of 10 best David Lynch movies because it proves he can do straightforward, G-rated fare with the same flair he brings to his more dreamlike and disturbing works. 
  4. "Eraserhead" (1977) – "Eraserhead," the first experience many film audiences had with the vision of David Lynch, depicts a nightmarish world that cannot be described, only seen. While a challenge for many viewers, it is definitely one of the 10 best David Lynch movies.
  5. "Wild at Heart" (1990) – The romantic road movie as seen through Lynch's twisted lens, "Wild at Heart" is the story of Sailor and Lula, and what they go through to be together to reach the point where he'll finally sing her "Love Me Tender."
  6. "Lost Highway" (1997) – "Lost Highway" almost seems like a trial run for the more artistically successful "Mulholland Drive" but still has a number of memorable images that place it in the 10 best David Lynch movies.
  7. "The Elephant Man" (1980) – This straightforward biopic based on the life of Joseph Merrick illustrates Lynch's strengths as a storyteller and his ability to make beauty out of ugliness.
  8. "Inland Empire" (2006) – Further explorations of the dreamlike experimentation of "Mulholland Drive" rank "Inland Empire" as one of the 10 best David Lynch movies.
  9. "Dune" (1984) – An adaptation of Frank Herbert's classic sci-fi novel of the same name, "Dune" was a commercial flop but remained surprisingly true to the book's vision, gaining a cult of loyal fans.
  10. "The Grandmother" (1970) – Available on the DVD collection "The Short Films of David Lynch," this disturbing tale of an abused young boy and his grandmother—sprouted from seeds—is nightmarish Lynch at his best.

Prepare to explore a world just below the surface—of waking, of society, of beauty—by watching the 10 best David Lynch movies.