10 Best Movie Dream Sequences

Jan 07, 2016 | by Sandy Reitman

By human nature, we are all dreamers. We dream while we’re asleep in bed.We dream about the past and we dream about the future. We daydream while looking out the window. Some dreams are pleasant; others can be total nightmares. Some people don’t not remember their dreams and some people think they don’t dream at all. However, dreams are an essential part of our daily lives.

Hollywood has perfected the imaginative dream sequence for the pleasure of our entertainment and for the broader message of the stories at hand. Some of the best screenplays include elaborate dream sequences as an important part of a movie plot line. Some are so clever that you don’t realize it was a dream until the very end of the film. Many of these dreams are embedded into the memories of those who’ve seen them, and are never easily forgotten.

With that, here are 10 of the best movie dream sequences that Hollywood has given us over the years:

While some might argue that the entirety of The Wizard of Oz is a dream, it remains one of the best transitions from reality to fantasy in American film. Originally made in 1939, The Wizard of Oz came to life on the big screen in a way moviegoers had never seen before with flying monkeys, talking trees, and melting witches. It took us from black and white to technicolor, from Kansas to the land of Oz, and remains one of the greatest movies of all time.

Grease is Americana at its finest, exemplifying what it was like to be a teenager in the late 1950s.  When Frenchie, Sandy’s best friend, considers dropping out of high school, she dreams about what life would be like in the tune to a Frankie Avalon original.  Despite her aspirations, this dream may instead make you want to stay in school, and maybe even avoid pink hair dye.

A Christmas Story is the true American Christmas movie classic.  Young Ralphie dreams about his prized “Old Blue” shotgun, a gift he’s been asking for from his parents Christmas.  In his dream, he saves his family from impeding robbers in a Western version of his bleakly suburban life, ultimately proving that the fun wasn’t just a gift, but a necessity (or so he thought).

The sci-fi thriller, Vanilla Sky, opens with Tom Cruise waking up to a woman’s voice on his alarm clock before he goes out to start his day as an extravagant New York City publishing mogul.  He soon realizes that he’s the only one on the streets of Manhattan, foreshadowing the life of loneliness his character lives after an unfortunate accident and too much money at his fingertips. While seemingly on the top of the world, we see that his world is a lonely place if not shared. Like it states in the movie, “without the sour, the sweet just ain’t as sweet.”

Love can make anyone crazy. Or, in this case, dumb. Jim Carey’s character in Dumb and Dumber dreams about his beautiful (yet absurd) life of love with the girl he’s been pursuing.  He sees chic Aspen ski weekends filled with laughter, farts, French kissing, and even kung-fu murdering any other man that gets in his way.

Another sci-fi thriller based on an alternate reality, Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in Inception explains to naive Ellen Page that everything she thought was real had been a dream all along.  By crumbling the world around her (literally), he shows her the power of diving into one’s subconsciousness, for better or for worse.

Had she never fallen asleep under that tree, Alice would have never gone down the rabbit hole. However, she would have left us without one of the most magical tales ever written: Alice in Wonderland.  With whimsical characters and magical scenarios, who knew an innocent little nap in a park could bring such imagination and adventure?

Everyone has a heartbreak they wish they could forget.  Jim Carrey’s dream sequence in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind made us see what it could really be like to completely forget someone you once loved, and how empty and cold that could be.  Like they say, “it’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all”.

Cult classic The Big Lebowski is a stoner’s dream filled with action, comedy, romance, and of course, an unforgettable dream sequence.  When Jeff Bridge’s character is knocked out cold by the cronies mistakenly on his tail, he sees his life take the form of a bowling match that hopefully he wins.

Commenting on the imperfect life of American suburbia, American Beauty taps into the dreams of an unhappily married man played by Kevin Spacey. Dreaming of the life he never lived, he falls under the trance of his daughter’s seductive friend, leaving him fantasizing about the forbidden fruit in a beautifully erotic dream sequence featuring cheerleaders, bathtubs, and roses.