Surrealism has had several cinematic champions over the years, from Luis Buñuel to Alejandro Jodorowsky, but the modern-day master of the movement is David Lynch. The man has a real knack for mining the subconscious and creating terrifying nightmare imagery. For example, there's Eraserhead and the third season of Twin Peaks, but if you want to see Lynch at the height of his mind-bending powers, then check out his magnum opus, Mulholland Drive.
Explaining the plot is like trying to describe a deep and disturbing dream. The film begins when an innocent actress named Betty (Naomi Watts) arrives in Hollywood with hopes of making it big. She soon stumbles into a strange plot involving a beautiful brunette (Laura Elena Harring) suffering from amnesia, but as Roger Ebert pointed out in his original review, Mulholland Drive ditches traditional plot and instead "works directly on the emotions, like music." After all, the mass majority of the movie is an actual dream, and by working through a woman's heartbroken subconscious, Lynch explores the dark machinations of Hollywood and how often our grandiose goals give way to despair.
And while you're sifting through all this dream logic — what's up with the blue key and the blue box? — Lynch keeps you glued to the screen with mesmerizing sequences like the ClubSilencio musical number, Betty's jaw-dropping audition, and the eerie moment when a cocky director (Justin Theroux) encounters the world's creepiest cowboy. And then, of course, there's one of the scariest scenes in Hollywood history, a masterclass in tension that involves nothing more than two men in a diner. Couple all that with Naomi Watts' powerhouse of a performance, and it's no wonder the BBC named this surrealist masterpiece the greatest film of the 21st century so far.