From least favorite to favorite.
10. Inland Empire – Just strange for the sake of being strange. The plot is almost impossible to find.
9. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me – An unnecessary prequel that doesn’t really add much of value to a great series.
8. Mulholland Drive – People can defend this movie all they want…repeat viewings, discussions and readings help to clarify this but the truth is, this was a pilot to a series that never happened and was edited down into a movie. This shouldn’t even really be on this list, but the project was salvaged in editing. There are some good aspects here, but come on, Lynch had made far better work.
7. Wild At Heart – While it’s a slight offering from Lynch, he is able to use Cage’s manic energy to great effect. Not essential viewing, but it’s amusing.
6. Dune – Devotees of the book tend to hate this movie. I saw it before I read the book so I could be a little more objective. It’s not all bad, in fact, it’s half-decent. Repeated tries by others may legitimize claims that a great movie can’t be made out of the story. Oh well.
5. Eraserhead – Strange but it was Lynch’s first full-length. Think of it as an experimental film. Not for everyone, but if you are expecting something crazy, you should be okay.
4. The Elephant Man – This is where Lynch hit his stride. An old-fashioned good story with an intentionally classic look.
3. Lost Highway – This might end up being Lynch’s last great film. Some of the story doesn’t make sense, but it’s entertaining and easy to just go with. It might be his best balancing of realistic tension and supernatural oddness.
2. The Straight Story – The odd duck in Lynch’s filmography. He only directed it, but this mild, family-friendly tale is more or less flawless. If you are new to the director or don’t like strange stories, this is a great one for you.
1. Blue Velvet – Throughout his career, Lynch seemed to have a fascination with unearthing the dark underbelly of suburban life. He never got more effectively suspenseful while staying on the right side of reality than he did here. It just goes to show: if you tell a relatively simple story well while adding a few your distinctive flourishes, you can end up with gold. Just tell a good story, man! We don’t need to be transported to Crazy Town!
He’s not for everyone and when he’s off he is way off, but David Lynch has made some important films in his day.
The Elephant Man
‘The Elephant Man’ is helped by superb efforts from John Hurt and Anthony Hopkins. Telling the real life story of John Merrick, it seems to be from a bygone era.
The Straight Story
‘The Straight Story’ was the last performance from Richard Farnsworth. The script was written by Lynch’s long-time editor, Mary Sweeney.
The Lost Highway is probably too strange and slow for most viewers, but if you are prone to Lynch’s charms, you’ll be all about it. Look out for a pre-prosecuted Robert Blake!