Since I’ve been in quarantine, I’ve been able to catch up on the years and years of sleep that I have been missing out on. Longer sleep hours means more time in REM sleep, which means more dreaming. Some dreams have been fleeting and left by head immediately, others have seemed almost lucid. But suffice to say, I’ve developed a deep interest in dreams. So, I’m now interested in watching movies about dreams. Here are 10 of the best to get started.
Dennis Quaid plays a psychic who is on the run from scientists wanting to experiment on him, and using his skills for his own personal gain. When his luck finally runs out, he finds himself in a mental institution, where he is enlisted by a doctor, played by Christopher Plummer, to work on a project where they enter people’s dreams. The idea is to help people, but things become much more sinister.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet star in this movie about a couple who undergo procedures to erase themselves from each other’s minds because of the hurt of their break up. As they meet again, their missing memories manifest as a sort of dream and the movie becomes a psychological thriller that dips into the nature of memory and dreams.
This is probably the most well-known movie about dreams in which Leonardo DiCaprio leads a team of thieves that infiltrates people’s minds in their dreams in order to steal memories or implant ideas. You get dreams, dreams within dreams, and dreams within dreams, within dreams. But if you die in your dreams, you’re gone, and it is not always easy to separate dream from reality.
The Matrix (1999)
I don’t know whether we would really call the fake reality inside the Matrix a dream, or more an elaborate illusion, but the idea is there. You think that you are in the real world, but in fact it is an illusion, which you can control to an extent if you are aware. Keanu Reeves starts off as your typical ignorant, but he follows the white rabbit and discovers the terrible truth about the world in which he lives.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
This movie, and its many, many sequels, turn the dreamscape into a place of horror. A dead killer, Freddy Krueger, no longer able to kill in the outside world, enters the dreams of teenagers and terrorizes and kills them in their sleep. And if you die in your sleep, you die in real life. The very first film features a very young Johnny Depp.
This Japanese anime is a sci-fi psychological thriller set in the world of dreams. A research psychologist has a device that allows them to help patients by entering their dreams. But naturally, the potential to misuse the device is always realized by someone. As our protagonist tries to protect the device, they become lost in a world that seems to exist between dream and reality.
The Science of Sleep (2006)
This French fantasy film stars Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal as a man whose vivid dreams often interfere with his reality. He dreams interactions that never happened which confuse him about reality, he does strange things while sleepwalking, and sometimes behaves badly in real life when he thinks that he is asleep.
Starring Ewan McGregor, Naomi Watts, and Ryan Gosling, this psychological thriller, it tells the story of a psychologist that is trying to save a suicidal client who has dire predictions about the future, all of which seem to come true. The doctor is also struggling to maintain his own grip on reality as the real world and the dream world clash in his head.
Vanilla Sky (2001)
Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruz star in the Cameron Crowe creation, Cruise stars as a man suspected of murder, who tries to tell his story to a police psychologist to prove his innocence. But it soon becomes clear that what is real, and what Cruise believes, are intertwined in a complicated web that mixes dream with real life.
Waking Life (2001)
This movie is an experimental animated docu-fiction that mixes real life and fantasy. It looks at philosophical issues surrounding life including the nature of reality, dreams, and consciousness. Created by Richard Linklater, it draws on several themes explored in his movie Slacker, and also features cameos from Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy that appeared in his other movie Before Sunrise.