If Only Life Were as Coordinated as One of His Films
In the wake of Wes Anderson’s new movie, “Asteroid City,” set to air in theaters on June 16th, Anderson is on everyone’s mind, regardless of if you’re a film buff or a film amateur. Known for his symmetrical, pastel style and his cast of quirky characters, most of his films have themes of coming of age, struggle and adventure. For many, their distinct style represents a more picturesque view or rejection of reality. I grew up on Wes Anderson films since my father loved his older works, and “Fantastic Mr. Fox” is by itself an iconic movie – even if you don’t recognize its director. Given my affinity for Anderson’s films and my not-so-patiently waiting for his newest star-studded picture, I like to think my rankings of his works paint a fair and valid evaluation.
Rushmore was Wes Anderson’s second film, released in 1998, and is one of his more direct takes on a coming-of-age drama. The characters are odd with questionable quirks and personalities, but the antics they get themselves into wouldn’t happen without these traits. In “Rushmore”, audiences begin to see more of the trademark Anderson style, but the palette is a divergence from the pastels and almost two-dimensional scenes Anderson is known for.
4. Grand Budapest Hotel
If anyone asks, “What’s a Wes Anderson film,” this would be my go-to pick. It’s quite picturesque and its storyline is engaging, albeit a little on the long side. This movie showcases a lot of elements that Anderson is known for, like the aforementioned color palettes, symmetry and characters that allow the audience to flesh them out on their own. This movie also has some really sweet interactions between characters that are some of my favorites in the film world. If you haven’t watched Grand Budapest Hotel, I highly recommend it for its cinematography and character chemistry.
3. Fantastic Mr. Fox
This movie is the definition of a classic. Filmed in stop motion and claymation, Anderson’s style recreates a well-known Roald Dahl novel and makes it even more imaginative and spunky. The characters are witty and funny, and the autumnal feel fits the overall vibe perfectly. Interestingly enough, the soundtrack for this movie is well-picked and helps add depth to the overall simplistic storyline.
2. The French Dispatch
One of Anderson’s newer movies, this one is interesting for its use of multiple film types from color, film-noir and animation. It dives into a variety of stories from a fake newspaper but each one has a specific moral or theme. This movie has a stacked list of actors that are commonly found in Wes Anderson films from Adrien Brody to Owen Wilson. While split into roughly three sections, my favorite is the black-and-white, 1960s French storyline with Timothee Chalamet leading a group of rebellious young adults. The lessons on coming of age, maturity and sacrifice were quite poignant and added a nice contrast to the otherwise comedic antics of the other sections.
1. The Royal Tenenbaums
If “The French Dispatch” had an iconic cast, this one takes the cake—especially for Wes Anderson. As a director, he is known for reusing actors across his films, but this is where audiences really start to notice that. This movie showcases Owen and Luke Wilson, Bill Murphy and Gwyneth Paltrow. For me, this film combines everything Wes Anderson does really well: a good soundtrack, problematic but relatable characters, a visually-impactful color palette and slow, engaging pacing. It’s not overly artsy like some of his other films, making it enjoyable for audiences outside of his niche. It’s another coming-of-age film (surprise, surprise), but it focuses more on the interconnectedness of people and their problems, which I think is a really relatable theme for audiences.
Wes Anderson was a staple in my household growing up, but he wasn’t for many. Even though his pieces are highly stylized and not for everyone, I think he has many films that the pickiest film critic can enjoy. The characters are witty and fun, the scenery is aesthetic and the soundtracks add to the romanticization of these movies. Whether you want to impress an indie-film major or have a girl’s movie night in, I suggest tuning in to a Wes Anderson classic.