A Ranking of Wes Anderson’s Films
By Therese Aseoche
Symmetry, wide-angle shots, ornate details, saturated colors, Owen Wilson, Bill Murray.
Almost immediately, what comes into your mind is every Wes Anderson movie ever made. His unique directorial style — characterized by quirky and weirdly complicated stories, dysfunctional characters, recurring cast members, technical precision and beautiful aesthetic — stays constant throughout all 8 full-length feature films he’s ever made, and no one else can ever attempt to replicate them lest they want to risk being called an Anderson wannabe.
This is what makes him such an icon in the American film industry, and a household name for every film buff around the world. And now, he’s making a much-awaited comeback with “Isle of Dogs”:
So to hype us up for the upcoming movie, we’ve listed and ranked all of Wes Anderson’s 8 existing feature films from “good” to “amazing.” It wasn’t an easy task, but here’s our best attempt:
“Rushmore” has been regarded as Anderson’s breakthrough feature film about a boy’s reverse coming-of-age, in which he must stop himself from acting like an adult, and yet I find that it isn’t as impactful as his other movies. Perhaps too much focus was given to Max Fischer — who we kind of have a hard time seeing as the young schoolboy he’s supposed to be (no offense to Jason Schwartzman) — when we ended up having more interest in the characters surrounding him.
There’s no denying though that “Rushmore” is charming in its own right, funny though a bit odd, and teaches us a lesson on attachment and maturity.
7. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
“The Life Aquatic” takes us on an exciting nautical adventure across the ocean headed by famous oceanographer Steve Zissou (Bill Murray). But being an Anderson movie, it’s so much more than simply an adventure story — it’s a drama that explores the strained relationship between Zissou and the son he’s never met, it’s a comedy that pulls simple jokes here and there, and it’s a fantasy where imagined underwater creatures like the Jaguar Shark exist.
However, the film seemingly suffers slow progression and parts of the story tend to feel disjointed. But nothing fills us with the most satisfaction than this particular film’s happy ending.
6. Bottle Rocket
Anderson’s first feature film and first collaboration with Owen Wilson came in the form of “Bottle Rocket,” a charming low-budget movie that originally had been a 13-minute short film screened at the Sundance Festival. It tells the story of two incompetent robbers played by Luke Wilson and Owen Wilson and their sloppily executed heists that double as desperate attempts to give their depressing lives meaning.
It’s here where Anderson starts to incorporate what would be mainstay elements in his films, and although it’s the least known among all, it’s worthy of recognition for being quirky and heartwarming to a certain degree.
5. The Darjeeling Limited
Most lists would try to place “The Darjeeling Limited” at the bottom because of it being too all-over-the-place, but I find it nice to say the least. It revolves around three brothers, mourning after the death of their father, who try to reconnect with one another while on a train ride in India, and in the process also try to find meaning in their own individual lives.
It’s true that the plot tends to deviate (though not as seamlessly as “The Royal Tenenbaums”) but there’s something about each brother (played by Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, and Adrien Brody) that makes each of them so likable. Maybe if they had cleaned up the story a bit, I’d feel more confident giving this movie a bit more credit than what others tend to give.
4. Moonrise Kingdom
Anderson’s only honest-to-goodness romance film revolving around young adolescent love is gratifying and endearing that it could take you back to your summer days and childhood sweethearts in a snap. It stands out for its delightful cinematography, vibrant colors, and praiseworthy child actors, in addition to its being more lighthearted than how Anderson’s films normally are.
There’s no question about “Moonrise Kingdom” being one of Anderson’s greatest and most recognizable works. It just inspires us to be unapologetic about being in-love because we don’t have to make it so complicated.
3. Fantastic Mr. Fox
“Fantastic Mr. Fox” made it official — Anderson’s signature directorial style is even more mesmerizing when translated into stop-motion animation. Still, this film goes by terribly underrated and anyone who has yet to see it should feel a bit of shame for staying so ignorant.
The effort to create this masterpiece is astounding. It’s funny without trying, incredibly witty, and is a treat for all the senses, thanks to a match made in heaven between Anderson and “Fantastic Mr. Fox” author Roald Dahl, whose mature humor and eccentric storytelling perfectly fits Anderson’s style of filmmaking.
2. The Grand Budapest Hotel
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” is Anderson’s most recent film and also his most acclaimed work that had garnered three Oscar nominations. It perfectly showcases everything Anderson is known for that any ignoramus could offhandedly describe his signature style just by watching this film. These, together with its breathtaking sets, beautiful color grading, and charismatic characters, amplify the intriguing story the film shares about a hotel concierge Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes) and his trusted lobby boy.
But despite the cinematic brilliance of this movie, Anderson’s best work could possibly be…
1. The Royal Tenenbaums
Personally, I find “The Royal Tenenbaums” to be Anderson’s finest work. It features a large star-studded cast which includes Gene Hackman, Angelica Huston, Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow, Luke Wilson, Owen Wilson, Danny Glover and Bill Murray, and yet Anderson was able to masterfully craft individual stories that gave each character depth, making each one so real and so relatable to its audience. It’s also the film with the most simple and straightforward plot, one that truly inspires rather than just be Anderson-level of weird.
This definitely is Anderson’s most enduring films, one which we’ll never tire of watching over and over again.
What’s your favorite Wes Anderson film? Share with us your thoughts below!