Rank ’em: David Lynch Films

Years back I took a chance at the DVD store and bought a certain film by director David Lynch (I don’t wanna give away which one just yet as it’s number 1 on my list). From then on I was a die hard Lynch fan. I sought out every other film he has ever made and have since watched them all multiple times (some more than others). One of the masters of weird and surreal American cinema, I find even when one of his films perhaps doesn’t work as a whole, there’s always something interesting to experience. He is possibly my favorite director at this point in time.

Below is my ranking of all 10 David Lynch films, not including shorts, TV shows (sorry, Twin Peaks, as much as I love ya’) and anything else that isn’t a full-length feature film. Mind you this is going by my mood at this particular moment, and the list could change half an hour from now. For kicks I’ve included a moment/scene to highlight each film (spoilers lay within).

10. Dune (1984)

9. Wild At Heart (1990)

8. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jrof3j72EpA

7. The Straight Story (1999)

6. The Elephant Man (1980)

5. Lost Highway (1997)

4. Eraserhead (1977)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qrl3n2ZtK2E

3. Inland Empire (2006)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WSXhb0kPXLc

2. Blue Velvet (1986)

1. Mulholland Drive (2001)

Now feel free to jump in the comments with your own rankings and favorite David Lynch moments.

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Jandy Hardesty
Admin

We share the same number 1, but the rest is pretty varied! I still need to see Eraserhead and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (but I have seen all of the TV series); I think those are the only features of his I’m missing.

8. Dune
7. Lost Highway (but I need to watch it again badly)
6. The Straight Story
5. Blue Velvet
4. The Elephant Man
3. Wild at Heart (I love this movie far more than most people do, apparently)
2. INLAND EMPIRE
1. Mulholland Drive

Mulholland Drive is actually sitting at #3 on my all-time favorites list right now.

Andrew James
Admin

I still like Straight Story the best. Simply because of how blown away I was by its earnestness and heartfelt emotion. I like it precisely because it’s NOT a David Lynch film.

I like all of his other pictures too (except Dune), but Straight Story is seemingly so far out of his comfort range that it excels.

Ross Miller
Guest

Jandy – Eraserhead is essential viewing if you’re a huge fan of his. You can really see the genesis of his style in it and, unsurprisingly, is probably his most Lynchian film. You’re right to wait to watch Fire Walk With Me until you’ve watched all of the series. It’s basically like one big spoiler for the show.

Nice list btw, great to see you love Inland Empire so much. I’ve heard a lot of bashing of that movie but to me its Lynch at his purest, most unfiltered craziness. And as a fan I eat that stuff up 😉 Apart from Dune (which is the only film of his I don’t like – I know Kurt vehemently opposes me on that one 😉 Wild At Heart is my least favourite. I just can’t get into it in the same way as his others.

Andrew – The Straight Story is great, for him it really couldn’t have had a more perfect title. It’s amazing how emotional, heartfelt and compelling it is considering it’s just about an old man on a tractor for most of it.

Justin Jagoe
Guest

My ranked list goes as follows:

10. Dune
9. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me
8. Lost Highway
7. Inland Empire
6. The Elephant Man
5. The Straight Story
4. Eraserhead
3. Wild at Heart
2. Blue Velvet
1. Mulholland Drive

Not a very inspired ranking, obviously, though I really do thing Wild at Heart is an underrated gem. Also, I think it’s telling that Lynch’s two weakest films are based on pre-existing material (Dune being based on a popular novel, Fire Walk With Me being a continuation of his brilliant TV series).

Also, I admit I really do need to revisit Lost Highway one day.

Chris
Guest

Im with Andrew The Straight Story is my favorite Lynch film for all the same reasons.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

Hard to rank the films of Mr. Lynch, but I’d have to agree with Justin. Wild At Heart should be near the top of that list. Arguably David Lynch’s only ‘THRILL RIDE’ movie, and it is magnificent.

Jim Laczkowski
Guest

10. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me
9. Dune
8. Eraserhead
7. Inland Empire
6. Mulholland Drive
5. Lost Highway
4. The Elephant Man
3. Wild at Heart
2. The Straight Story
1. Blue Velvet

As a huge Lynch fan, I feel like Blue Velvet is the summation of all Lynchian themes, ideas, imagery, weirdness. It’s also linear and easier to comprehend – doesn’t go up its own ass as much. Or maybe I just love that sequence with Dean Stockwell a bit TOO much. I’ve been in the minority for years, that I like Lost Highway more than his other more dreamlike films like Inland and Mulholland. One day, I will watch all three and see if I still feel the same way. Lynch is a very divisive filmmaker (like DePalma) but even when he’s self-indulgent, I find his movies intoxicating with only two total failures (the last two on my list).

Jim Laczkowski
Guest

The Straight Story is underrated. That’s a movie that seriously tears me up… a lot. Farnsworth is absolutely extraordinary, in every scene. I feel like more people need to see this movie, simply because I never knew Lynch had this in him. Also, my Astronomy Professor plays the bus driver. It’s just all-around beautiful… from the scenery to the score to the performances.

Patrick Ripoll
Guest

7. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me
6. Lost Highway
5. Wild At Heart
4. Mullholland Drive
3. Eraserhead
2. Elephant Man
1. Blue Velvet

But I actively hate the last three and only kind of like Mulholland Drive. He’s an incredibly talented filmmaker, but his movies almost never come together in a satisfying way to me. Twin Peaks is probably where his talents came together in the best possible way, and even that devolved into shit towards the end.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

Inside David Lynch’s CLUB SILENCIO bar in Paris.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2011/aug/31/david-lynch-disco-paris
(actually, it looks A LOT like the TUNNEL BAR in Boston.)

Domenic Lanza
Member

10. Dune
09. Wild at Heart
08. The Straight Story
07. Fire Walk With Me
06. Inland Empire
05. Eraserhead
04. The Elephant Man
03. Blue Velvet
02. Mulholland Drive
01. Lost Highway

Bill Ackerman
Guest

10.Dune
09. Inland Empire
08. The Elephant Man
07.The Straight Story
06.Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me
05.Wild At Heart
04.Eraserhead
03.Mulholland Drive
02. Lost Highway
01.Blue Velvet

I’m among those that think Lynch’s contributions to ‘Twin Peaks’ stand up well against any of his feature films, even with that lousy stretch in Season 2 that was shot while Lynch was doing ‘Wild At Heart’. And I strongly feel that the ‘Blackout’ episode of ‘Hotel Room’ might be the secret masterpiece buried among all the short films, non-Twin Peaks TV work, music videos, commercials, quinoa-preparation tutorials, etc.

Ross Miller
Guest

@Kurt – I saw that a few days ago – very cool. If I’m ever in Paris… 😉

@Domenic – Nice to see such love for Lost Highway, it rarely gets mentioned as high up as that. I love that movie. Such an interesting exploration of identity. The main plot point of how we go from Pullman to Getty is perhaps one of Lynch’s boldest moves.

@Bill – I totally agree about Twin Peaks. When that show was on it was absolutely fabulous TV, the way it mixes small town drama with just plain surrealism. Sadly I can’t disagree about thae problems with season 2 – that show was pure Lynch and his absence was REALLY felt. So many unnecessary, and often flat-out boring, storylines. But I love the finale so much, Lynch brought it back even if it was about as open ended as you can get.

jordaan mason
Guest

1. inland empire
2. lost highway
3. twin peaks: fire walk with me
4. blue velvet
5. eraserhead
6. mulholland drive
7. the elephant man
8. wild at heart
9. the straight story
10. dune

Jandy Hardesty
Admin

Jordaan, I don’t know whether to be elated that someone else thinks so highly of INLAND EMPIRE, or sad that you have Mulholland Drive that far down. 🙂

Marcus Aurelius
Guest

10. Straight Story
9. Dune
8. Elephant Man
7. Firewalk with Me
6. Eraserhead
5. Wild At Heart
4. Inland Empire
3. Blue Velvet
2. Mulholland Drive
1. Lost Highway

A tough chore to pick the top 3…..Lost Highway doesn’t seem to be in many top spots, which I find strange….One of the best Non-Linear tales of all time…Robert Blake’s Character? Forget about it, one of the best scenes of all time with him and his phone…a close second scene is the cowboy scene in Mulholland Drive, possibly tied with Club Silencio….While Loving the Story of Dune, I think it was a bad choice for Lynch, who does brilliance with his own stories….But Lost Highway by an inch over Mullholland Drive and Blue Velvet……ahead of the 4-8 pack by a mile, which are ahead of most movies by light years….