Filmmakers and writers alike can’t celebrate the world of experimental and avant-garde cinema without discussing the genius of David Lynch. As notable and groundbreaking as Lynch’s work has been, like any other filmmaker, some of his work is much better than others.
With this in mind, down below will rank David Lynch’s films from worst to best, not including his television series or shorts. We’ll give the logline for each film from IMDB and a brief opinion on why we feel each film is ranked where they are. Let’s take a look!
10. Dune (1984)
Logline: Feature adaptation of Frank Herbert’s science fiction novel, about the son of a noble family entrusted with protecting the most valuable asset and most vital element in the galaxy.
As great of a story as Dune is, just about everyone agrees that Dune was a mistake of a film in 1984. Hindered by awkward inner monologue and a story that feels rush, Dune never lived up to the potential it deserved.
9. Inland Empire (2006)
Logline: As an actress begins to adopt the persona of her character in a film, her world becomes nightmarish and surreal.
Although Lynch’s latest effort in film feels experimental as a David Lynch film would, it’s shot and edited in a way that doesn’t feel like it’s from an iconic filmmaker like Lynch. Good intentions, poor execution.
8. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992)
Logline: Laura Palmer’s harrowing final days are chronicled one year after the murder of Teresa Banks, a resident of Twin Peaks’ neighboring town.
When Twin Peaks ended after Season 2, the die-hard cult following of the series wanted more. What they got in return was a solid prequel to the series that more or less felt like a filler for the show than a standalone idea.
7. Wild at Heart (1990)
Logline: Young lovers Sailor and Lula run from the variety of weirdos Lula’s mom hired to kill Sailor.
Who doesn’t love Nicolas Cage? Wild at Heart is a hilarious comedy, crime, and drama that blends the genres well. It won’t blow anyone’s mind, but it’s a good comedy that’s whacky enough to keep viewers interested.
6. Lost Highway (1997)
Logline: Anonymous videotapes presage a musician’s murder conviction, and a gangster’s girlfriend leads a mechanic astray.
In my opinion, this point of the list turns from mediocre to okay movies into good-level David Lynch films. Starting off this portion of the list is Lost Highway, an expertly crafted story that, although is slow at times, it packs a punch with one of the best scenes (mystery man scene) in any David Lynch film.
5. The Straight Story (1999)
Logline: An old man makes a long journey by lawnmower to mend his relationship with an ill brother.
The Straight Story doesn’t feel like a David Lynch film besides its log-line. What we got in return is a beautifully told story that features a masterful performance from Richard Farnsworth.
4. Blue Velvet (1986)
Logline: The discovery of a severed human ear found in a field leads a young man on an investigation related to a beautiful, mysterious nightclub singer and a group of psychopathic criminals who have kidnapped her child.
Some may argue Blue Velvet is David Lynch’s best film, and at times, I agree with them. Unfortunately, the film is a bit slow at times, and although I love the story and drive of it all, I just wish it picked up the pace. Still a great film from Lynch.
3. The Elephant Man (1980)
Logline: A Victorian surgeon rescues a heavily disfigured man who is mistreated while scraping a living as a side-show freak. Behind his monstrous façade, there is revealed a person of kindness, intelligence, and sophistication.
The Elephant Man is a tragic and beautifully fulfilled film from David Lynch and his second feature following Eraserhead. If you don’t cry by the end of The Elephant Man, I don’t know what to tell you.
2. Mulholland Drive (2001)
Logline: After a car wreck on the winding Mulholland Drive renders a woman amnesiac, she and a perky Hollywood-hopeful search for clues and answers across Los Angeles in a twisting venture beyond dreams and reality.
Mulholland Drive is a disorienting experience, but by the end, it finally pays off and gives the audience a bit of answer as to what they just watched. It’s long, demands patience, and is unpredictable in the best way possible.
1. Eraserhead (1977)
Logline: Henry Spencer tries to survive his industrial environment, his angry girlfriend, and the unbearable screams of his newly born mutant child.
Finally, at my number one spot is Eraserhead. There are a few main reasons I have Eraserhead at the number one rank, mainly for its special effects, dialogue, and direction. It’s impossible to not respect the genius of Lynch after watching Eraserhead.