101 Greatest Screenplays of the 21st Century (*so far)

Arguably the apotheosis of David Lynch’s surreal style, Mulholland Dr. presents a seductive riddle that’s deliberately impossible to solve. Superficially, it’s the story of wannabe actress Betty trying to help sultry accident victim Rita recover her memory—until the WTF midpoint when the characters suddenly adopt different identities. There’s also a lurid crime narrative, a subplot involving a movie director, and, per the Lynch norm, a handful of sequences that are utterly unclassifiable. (Good luck trying to label a dream sequence in a movie that might be about a dream within a dream.) Even the story of how Mulholland Dr. got made is twisted. Lynch originally created the piece as a pilot for ABC, but after it got nixed for being too esoteric, he put together new financing, then wrote and lensed new scenes. In so doing, Lynch generated one of the most perplexing phantasmagorias in American cinematic history.