Wes Anderson Movies


Wes Anderson is one of the few directors whose name has become an acceptable adjective to describe his own movies. And there’s a good reason for that. Wes Anderson movies are stylistically and tonally identifiable in ways almost no other working director’s movies are.

Wes Anderson movies have experienced a rejuvenation of sorts recently with Moonrise Kingdom being his first widely-admired live-action movie in more than a decade. Even more recently, a killer trailer for his next new film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, lit up the internet, and with the release of Matt Zoller Seitz’s incredible book, The Wes Anderson Collection, it seems Wes Anderson has reclaimed his rightful place near the top of the great American auteur conversation.

I’ve always loved Wes Anderson movies with The Royal Tenenbaums being a film I regularly credit for opening my eyes to the world of film. I love the symmetry of every frame of his movies. I love the way he derives comedy from tragedy, joy from pain. I love his elaborate sets, pitch-perfect characters, and consistently marvelous use of music. Wes Anderson movies are like comfort food, and I’ll find myself revisiting his films more often than those of almost any other director.

Wes Anderson Movies

Bottle Rocket

Three friends come up with a 75-year plan that includes committing a robbery and going on the run.

(1996, 1 viewing)

Anderson’s first feature is based on a short that caught the attention of critics and producers around the mid-1990s. The short is really cool. The feature film is enjoyable enough—it ends on a high note that allows me to overlook some of its more glaring shortcomings—but for me, it’s Anderson’s toughest nut to crack. It doesn’t let you in the way most other Wes Anderson movies do.


A 15-year-old kid, who’s failing out of prep school despite running nearly every club on campus, and a 50-year-old businessman fall in love with the same woman, a teacher. (Click here for my full Rushmore review.)

(1998, 2 viewings)

Here, you see what I love most out of Wes Anderson’s movies start to emerge. I’d describe Rushmore and a number of other films on this list as very warm tragedies. Max (Jason Schwartzman in his first role) is struggling through adolescence, but the facade he puts on is that of a gifted casanova, a young man without a care in the world and one who’s wise beyond his years. And as he reconciles the two (a right tragedy), we’re treated to one of the 1990s funniest, most endearing comedies. I’m not sure how Anderson pulls this one off, but boy does he.

The Royal Tenenbaums

Chronicles a family of divorced parents and their three gifted but disturbed grown children as they all reunite under one roof during one of their own’s last days. (Click here for my full The Royal Tenenbaums review.)

(2001, 7+ viewings)

Like I stated earlier, this is an essential film for me. I love the introduction to the Tenenbaum family, and from that staggeringly good opening, the film only gets richer.

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

A wealthy ocean adventurer gathers a ragtag crew that includes a man who might be his son to help him hunt a mythical shark that killed his best friend and partner.

(2004, 1 viewing)

I love the inventiveness (particularly when it comes to the animated creatures), but for me, this is easily Anderson’s weakest movie. Its tragedy is based in fantasy, and its comedy is barely there. Still, disappointing Anderson is still a worthwhile movie—the sets, costumes, and cinematography are spectacular.

The Darjeeling Limited

Three brothers try to reconnect in the wake of their father’s death while they travel a train across India.

(2007, 2 viewings)

Probably Wes Anderson’s most underrated movie. It’s filled with some frustratingly on-the-nose symbolism, and the comedy relies a little too heavily on ugly American stereotypes. But The Darjeeling Limited is the Wes Anderson film that most leans toward tragedy, and in this case, that’s a good thing. I connect with this film on a pretty deep level, warts and all.

Fantastic Mr. Fox

A fox who steals chickens finds himself, his friends, and his family in a load of trouble when he pisses off some evil local farmers.

(2009, 4 viewings)

I’m not one of those folks who thinks Anderson lost his way with The Life Aquatic and The Darjeeling Limited, but even I thought Fantastic Mr. Fox was a real breath of fresh air—an injection of playfulness into this oeuvre that we hadn’t seen and that I wasn’t sure was possible. A missing tail aside, there’s not much by way of tragedy here, but between the stop-motion animation and rich autumnal colors, there’s more charm here than in any other movie of the last decade.

Moonrise Kingdom

Sam and Suzy—two pre-teen misfits living on the island of New Penzance—run away and make their home the great outdoors. The island’s adults form a search party beset with infighting.

(2012, 2 viewings)

Anderson’s latest finds a nice middle ground between the pure charm of Fox and the heavier themes of his earlier live-action work. It’s not quite the tragedy that is The Royal Tenenbaums or The Darjeeling Limited—perhaps because it’s told mostly from the point-of-view of children, and its children are its most with-it characters. But abandonment and broken dreams play a huge role in Moonrise, and its a better film for it.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

At Europe’s most famous hotel, Gustave H is a legendary concierge, and Zero Moustafa—a lobby boy—is his most trusted friend.

(2014, 0 viewings)

My most-anticipated movie of 2014. March can’t come soon enough. (Click here for the awesome The Grand Budapest Hotel trailer.)

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