The aesthetic of Wes Anderson can be seen from miles away. His directing style is delicate but deliberate, and his eye for color and set design is undeniable. Known as a quirky, off-beat, and ever-symmetrical visionary filmmaker, Wes Anderson has brought his own unique perspective to the silver screen and entranced viewers of all kinds. From his intricate set designs, bright and defining color choices, and actual obsession with symmetry, the aesthetics alone make his films some of the most iconic and inspirational for any filmmaker. So here are the Cinema Pranthan’s favorite Wes Anderson movies ranked.
1. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
One of the first films where we really start feeling the Anderson signature style is The Royal Tenenbaums, a story about a big family and a whole smorgasbord of issues that arise from their physically and emotionally absent father. The Royal Tenenbaums introduces us to our favorite dysfunctional family with even better outfits. If the writing wasn’t such a treat, the cast alone would have carried the film. Starring Bill Murray, Gene Hackman, Danny Glover, Anjelica Huston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, and Luke Wilson, the story follows the lives of three siblings. Their success as children is only outshined by their even bigger failures in adulthood.
This is the film that solidified Wes Anderson’s directing style but also found the perfect balance between style and substance. Where his work after this tends to lean more towards aesthetics, this film is grounded in the characters. The ensemble is perfectly cast and the tone is just as bitter as it is whimsical.
2. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
Visually stunning, exceptionally well-acted, beautifully written, and masterfully executed, The Grand Budapest Hotel may well be Anderson’s crown achievement. A glorious hotel in the mountains is the location of many exciting events over the years, this is the story from the perspective of the now-owner who was once a hardworking lobby boy mentored by the silk-tongued concierge. Though the performances have already been mentioned, Ralph Fiennes is, by far, the most incredible aspect of this movie as he gives no less than 100% during every moment of screen-time. Displayed on a miniature set that was carefully handcrafted, it makes for a gorgeous frame to go along with this treasure of film history.
The film explores themes of fascism, nostalgia, friendship, and loyalty, and further studies emphasize the function of color as an important storytelling device. The film led the 87th Academy Awards season with nine nominations (winning four) and earned several other accolades chiefly for writing and technical achievement.
3. Rushmore (1998)
Rushmore is a 1998 American coming-of-age comedy-drama film directed by Wes Anderson about an eccentric teenager named Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman in his film debut), his friendship with rich industrialist Herman Blume (Bill Murray), and their love in common for elementary school teacher Rosemary Cross (Olivia Williams). The film was co-written by Anderson and Owen Wilson. The soundtrack features several songs by bands associated with the British Invasion of the 1960s. Filming began in November 1997 around Houston, Texas. Rushmore is what really got audiences into his unique filmmaking style.
The film helped launch the careers of Anderson and Schwartzman while establishing a “second career” for Murray as a respected actor in independent cinema. At the 1999 Independent Spirit Awards, Anderson won the Best Director award and Murray won the Best Supporting Male award. Murray also earned a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture. Starting from Rushmore, Murray has been Anderson’s collaborator in every subsequent film of the director.
4. The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
A story of adventure, brotherhood, and navigating within oneself to find one’s own truth, The Darjeeling Limited is a comical yet touching tale of a broken family that attempts to reconnect. One year after their father tragically dies and their mother disappears, three brothers meet in India and agree to have a spiritual journey spanning various destinations that their sleep train passes through. Even though it was his fourth feature film, it still feels like his trademark film style hasn’t quite found its beat. This doesn’t in any way detract from the raw and real story that he tells through these three broken characters.
The scenery is, of course, beautiful, and the acting from these three is always on point, but it didn’t quite give us the emotional depth we experience from many of his other films.
5. Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
Moonrise Kingdom is a 2012 American coming-of-age comedy-drama film directed by Wes Anderson, written by Anderson and Roman Coppola. It features an ensemble cast including Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, Bob Balaban, Harvey Keitel, and newcomers Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward.
Largely set on the fictional New England island of New Penzance, it tells the story of an orphan boy (Gilman) who escapes from a scouting camp to unite with his pen pal and love interest, a girl with aggressive tendencies (Hayward). Feeling alienated from their guardians and shunned by their peers, the lovers abscond to an isolated beach. Meanwhile, the island’s police captain (Willis) organizes a search party of scouts and family members to locate the runaways.The young character played wonderfully by Jared Gilman is much more courageous and bold than he was apparently, as the story plays out in a dreamlike fashion.