The List: Ranking the films of David Lynch
The latest artist to grace the pages of our Sketch in the City series is Dave Lynch, which provides me with a great excuse to rank the films of someone who shares his name: David Lynch. With a favorite director, ranking his films can be like ranking your children. Fortunately, I don't have any, so here's my highly subjective ranking of Lynch's work from worst to best.
OK, this one is pretty easy. It was nothing if not ambitious, but Lynch trying to make a large-scale sci-fi movie based on a beloved novel that was always going to be a tough translation to the screen is not going to end well.
"The Elephant Man" (1980)
So it may be strange to put a film that was nominated for eight Oscars so low on this list - especially with a lot of divisive picks ahead of it - but this one, great as it is, just doesn't quite fit as well in the Lynch canon anymore.
"Inland Empire" (2006)
Lynch's most recent feature film also may be his least accessible (which is saying something when you consider the source). Its three-hour runtime seemed indulgent, but there's plenty of classic Lynch in there.
"Wild at Heart" (1990)
Glossy and downright bonkers by Lynch standards, this wild love story is violent and absurd, but worth it for the Willem Dafoe performance alone.
"Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me" (1992)
Lynch's prequel to his groundbreaking TV series - still one of the wildest and best things that's ever been on TV, let alone network TV - created more questions than it answered. Lynch fans shouldn't want it any other way.
"Lost Highway" (1997)
The plot is terrifyingly disorienting, leading to a real sense of creeping doom as the mysteries deepen, which only makes it scarier.
Lynch's first feature remains one his best, bringing the style of his experimental shorts to a story driven by his own angst at early parenthood.
"The Straight Story" (1999)
The biggest curveball of Lynch's career had to be when he suddenly made a G-rated movie for Disney about an elderly man making a cross-country journey on a riding mower. Somehow it worked amazingly.
"Blue Velvet" (1986)
Lynch's fascination with the dark underbelly of American suburbia was fuel for what is almost certainly his signature film, as Dennis Hopper gave birth to Frank Booth, one of the most terrifying screen villains ever.
"Mulholland Drive" (2001)
What was going to be Lynch's post-"Twin Peaks" return to TV never made it past the pilot stage, so Lynch got some funding to complete it as a standalone movie. The final act turns sinister and the mix of Lynch's reined-in TV sensibility and unleashed Lynch is my favorite representation of his work.