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Top 10 Movie Dream Sequences

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Craig Butler. Hearing about someone else’s dream is boring – but watching someone else’s dream in a movie? That’s a different story. In this video, counts down our picks for the top 10 greatest dream sequences in movies. For this video, we’re looking at impressive dream sequences in movies; but we are not including films in which the dream is essentially the entire film. Special thanks to our users GreatWonderMoose, Will Critchley, Andrew A. Dennison, cwbutler2, FireMadeFlesh II, Sara Cohen, MultiPearl007, Vidercity and datmovieclubber.dfco for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Script written by Craig Butler.

Top 10 Movie Dream Sequences

Hearing about someone else’s dream is boring – but watching someone else’s dream in a movie? That’s a different story. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 greatest dream sequences in movies.

For this list, we’re looking at impressive dream sequences in movies; but we are not including films in which the dream is essentially the entire film.

#10: No Problem Too Big for Max
“Rushmore” (1998)

Everyone dreams of being able to do something that demonstrates their superiority – that same superiority that the rest of the world somehow has missed. Underperforming high school student Max Fischer’s dream is of nonchalantly solving an incredibly complicated math problem, winning the praise and respect of his teacher and fellow students. Too bad it was just a dream, Max.

#9: Things (and Memories) Fall Apart
“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (2004)

Coming off an ill-fated love affair, Joel Barish enters a program that will erase any memories of his recent relationship. As the process takes places, he relives key moments of his past in a dream state. Set in a beach house in Montauk, his memories crumble as the beach house crumbles, and are being washed away just as the incoming tide is washing away the remains of the house – and ironically, this happens just as he is getting a more accurate perception of what went wrong in his relationship.

#8: Nazi Mutant Disturbance
“An American Werewolf in London” (1981)

Being turned into a werewolf just might wreak havoc on one’s subconscious. Newly bitten werewolf David Kessler hasn’t quite realized what has happened to him, but his dream gives him a clue: when mutant Nazis interrupt a peaceful family scene, holding him hostage as he watches them murder his family, it’s a sign that dangerous forces have gained control of his life. And when it turns out to be a dream-within-a-dream, he’s further being told that he has no control over his life anymore.

#7: Judgment is Coming
“Terminator 2: Judgment Day” (1991)

In “T2,” Sarah Connor has a horrible nightmare in which she witnesses a devastating nuclear explosion with horrifying images of melting flesh, especially children burned to death on a playground. The horror of this vision prompts her to take action to prevent it from coming true – even if that means murder. The realism of the blast and its aftereffects is startlingly real and has earned praise for its veracity. As Sarah puts it: “anybody not wearing two million sunblock is gonna have a real bad day, get it?”

#6: A Rose By Any Other Name…Is Angela
“American Beauty” (1999)

Suburban family man Lester Burnham is obsessed with his daughter’s friend Angela, as demonstrated by his erotic dreams about her. Lester hates his job and feels his marriage has become loveless, so his masturbatory imaginings about Angela are an irresistible escape for him. His fantasies of Angela – whether in a rose petal-filled bathtub or writhing sensually on a canvas of petals – are both erotically charged and seriously creepy.

#5: Pink Elephants on Parade
“Dumbo” (1941)

Sad after visiting his imprisoned mother, Dumbo drinks from a bucket that has become filled with champagne. He falls into a deep sleep haunted by ghastly images of pink elephants on parade. In this intriguingly nightmarish sequence, elephants replicate endlessly, growing, shrinking, mutating and morphing constantly. It’s a reflection of Dumbo’s distraught state of mind and emotional turmoil, but it’s a delight for viewers – all set to an unforgettably catchy song.

#4: Everything Goes Right for Once
“Dumb and Dumber” (1994)

Lloyd Christmas’s dream is both hilarious and a moment when viewers see into the psyche of Lloyd’s character. A wish fulfillment dream, all of a sudden the childish things that Lloyd delights in – telling vulgar jokes, lighting his farts on fire – receive applause and approval. He is even able to demonstrate his superiority to haughty master chefs a previously-unknown mastery of martial arts. And, of course, he gets the girl – almost.

#3: Dreaming Can Be Deadly
“A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984)

Dreams – and the fear of them – are the whole basis of this long-lived horror franchise; teen-agers fall asleep and find that they are being hunted in their dreams by a disfigured killer. In the first film, Johnny Depp’s character dreams of his particularly gruesome death – which becomes terrifyingly real when he is pulled into his bed and transformed into a geyser of blood.

#2: Stealing Into Your Dreams
“Inception” (2010)

This film is bursting with memorable dream moments, including the opening scene that introduces us to the concept of inception and the section where leading character Dom Cobb and newbie Ariadne control the dream landscape together. But the most memorable is the dream sequence that takes up that last act of Christopher Nolan’s mind-bending movie: the group engages in corporate espionage by entering a man’s subconscious, and it’s literally a dream-within-a-dream-within-a-dream. Needless to say it’s confusing, and by the end we’re not even sure if everyone makes it out.

Before we drift off to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Gotta Hand It To You
“The Science of Sleep” (2006)
- Find a Way Out
“8½” (1963)
- On Angel Wings
“Brazil” (1985)
- Nobody Likes Clowns
“Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” (1985)
- And Baby Makes Three…Four…Five…
“Shrek the Third” (2007)

#1: Bowling a Strike
“The Big Lebowski” (1998)

Man, of course this is number one. After drinking a drugged White Russian, the Dude experiences a hallucinatory Busby Berkeley-like musical dream set in a bowling alley – with Saddam Hussein prepping bowling shoes and Viking women on hand to add a little spice. Things don’t stay so cool, though – not once the scissor men show up. Bad news for the Dude, but good news for those just taking in the awesome scene – the visuals of which reference other scenes from earlier in the film.

Do you agree with our choices? What other unbelievable dream sequences should we have put on this list? For more enthralling top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to

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