The darling of independent cinema, Wes Anderson burst onto the scene in the mid-90s and never looked back. An Auteur in every sense of the word the Texan is unashamedly stylised and often symmetrical in his approach to cinema. His films inhabit whimsical worlds inspired by the 60s and 70s and offer instantly memorable characters to guide you through often absurd stories. Once you’ve seen one for yourself it becomes very easy to identify ‘A Wes Anderson Movie’.
Interested in Wes Anderson? Here are five good films to get you started.
1. Rushmore (1998)
The calm before the storm. Whilst it would not gain the same cult status as some of his later work Rushmore proved to be the spark that would ignite Wes Anderson’s career. Fun and fresh even 20 years later the film centres on Jason Schwartzman as oddball teenager Max Fischer and his various mishaps at the Rushmore Academy. Underpinned by two excellent performances from Olivia Williams and Bill Murray the film joyously revels in teen angst from start to finish. Worth watching first to help acclimatise to Anderson’s unique style.
2. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
The film that introduced Wes Anderson to the world in all his cinematic glory. An ensemble piece following the lives of three unusually talented siblings and their extremely dysfunctional family. The film manages to deconstruct the concept of a nuclear family without ever feeling pretentious or smug. There is a real sense of melancholy and guilt present in throughout which Anderson is never afraid to shy away from despite the fact he is directing a comedy. Simultaneously hilarious and heart-wrenching The Royal Tenenbaums proved without a doubt that Wes Anderson was here to stay.
3. Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
A coming of age story that crackles into existence through a typically Andersonesque lens. Moonrise Kingdom is perhaps the most earnest of all Anderson’s films basking in childlike joy and frustration in equal measure. The film revolves around two children who rebel against their everyday surroundings by running away. A simple premise which Anderson crafts into a sophisticated and complex story of hope, disappointment and jubilation. Edward Norton’s performance as a befuddled Scout leader deserves particular praise.
4. Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
Anderson took a massive leap into the unknown with his sixth feature film. This was the first time the director had tackled an adaption, working from the famous children’s book by Roald Dahl. Not only that but it was also the first of Andersons animated features. With both those points in mind, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Fantastic Mr. Fox would be vastly different from Anderon’s previous films. The fact that the film retains so much of what makes Anderson’s filmography unique is a testament to the director’s attention to detail and aptitude for storytelling. A heartwarming feature that is a genuinely great kids movie.
5. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
The pièce de résistance of Anderon’s glittering catalogue. Best saved until last so as to appreciate the building blocks that came before it. A sprawling comedic epic set to the stunning backdrop of a snow-covered rural Germany. Another of Anderson’s ensemble pieces spearheaded by a career-best performance from the ever-affable Ralph Fiennes. The Grand Budapest Hotel sees the staff and guests of the titular Hotel wrapped up in a ludicrous murder plot that skirts between the ridiculous and the charming with incredible ease. A truly effervescent cinematic experience.
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)
A Bill Murray maritime adventure worth a watch for the Portuguese David Bowie covers alone.
Isle of Dogs (2018)
A post-apocalyptic animated caper set in Japan, revolving around a small boy, political upheaval and you guessed it, an isle of dogs.
Check out all these films on IMDB.