Wes Anderson’s multi-starrer, ‘The French Dispatch’, has been delayed due to the pandemic.
This list looks at his films in the order of best to not the best (Wes Anderson has no worst), from his debut to his last release, and tells you where you can watch them. There are some bonus recommendations available too!
Timothée Chalamet, Saoirse Ronan, Benicio del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Lyna Khoudri, Jeffrey Wright, Mathieu Amalric, Steve Park, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Liev Schreiber, Edward Norton, Willem Dafoe, Jason Schwartzman, and Anjelica Huston.
No, this is not a list of people invited to some celebrity party or award function, but the cast list of Wes Anderson’s next film, ‘The French Dispatch’. Fans of Wes Anderson will know that there are some Wes mainstays in that cast list, including some recent regulars. And, they will also tell you that it’s not the first time Wes Anderson is making a multi-starrer.
But, disappointingly, the release of this exciting multi-starrer, American comedy-drama, which is the first anthology series from Wes, has been delayed due to the ongoing pandemic. So, we thought why wait that long to immerse ourselves into the magical world of Wes Anderson when we can re-immerse ourselves in some of the magic he created earlier. Now go ahead, read on, and if possible, try and read in Alec Baldwin’s voice.
9. ‘The Darjeeling Limited’ (2007)
Critics and fans will tell you that this is probably Wes Anderson’s most indulgent film, with self-absorbed and privileged characters reflecting the lack of self-awareness that the film possesses on the whole. But, that doesn’t mean the film is not a joy-ride otherwise.
I mean, the film has Adrian Brody, Jason Schwartzman, and Owen Wilson playing three estranged brothers who are on an enforced bonding trip across India after the death of their father. It might lack the emotional depth of other Wes films but it makes up for it through the acting, performances, and the visuals.
PS: Jason Schwartzman reads a letter from a former lover in the film. There is a beautiful short film, ‘Hotel Chevalier’, made about the encounter. Natalie Portman plays the former lover. And, the film beautifully incorporates Peter Sarstedt’s “Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)” for maximum impact.
8. ‘Bottle Rocket’ (1996)
Even though ‘Bottle Rocket’ was his first film and also not one of his most stylish films ever, it gives you the earliest signs of quirks and signature style that an Anderson film was going to get recognized by in the future. The sibling-like relationships, the detailed plan gone awry, examining mental illness, and more can be found in this debut.
Though before the feature-length film, Anderson did create ‘Bottle Rocket’, the black and white short-film. But, we are most grateful for the other two debuts the film provides, fine actors and Wes film regulars, Owen and Luke Wilson.
7. ‘Isle of Dogs’ (2018)
Set in futuristic Japan, following a pack of dogs who help a young boy named Atari find his own dog after he is banished to “Trash Island,” because of an apparent canine flu outbreak, is the premise of Wes Anderson’s second stop-motion animation film, ‘Isle Of Dogs’. But, with this film, the director takes stop motion animation to another level of greatness.
He creates an intricate film with a very original premise that appreciates and appropriates Japanese culture at the same time, which is one of the reasons why critics were divided over the film. Nonetheless, the film is a fun watch with some really funny dog puns, producing a feat of animation that is worthy of your marvel.
6. ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’ (2009)
No one ever imagined that Wes Anderson would pick a children’s story by Roald Dahl for his first animation film. But, in making a stop animation feature in ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’, Anderson does just that and somehow creates a film that is a lot more enjoyable and suitable for adult viewing than children, while managing to maintain the essence of Dahl’s original world.
It’s a fantastic film with some perverse humour about Mr Fox and how his luxurious life with his family in the countryside goes for a toss when Mr Fox decides to raid his human neighbour’s farm, giving in to his animalistic desires.
5. ‘The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou’ (2004)
A lot of readers, and even some Wes Anderson fans, might not agree with ‘The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou’ making it so high in the list of his best films. But, the film does have a cult following and I am a part of it. It’s the first Anderson film I ever saw and the one that immediately enchanted me with its deadpan humour and production design, leading to the binge-fest of all his other films.
The film stars Bill Murray as Steve Zissou, who goes on a full-blown sea exploration with his team in search of the mystical Jaguar Shark that killed one of his team members. Onboard is a pregnant journalist, his estranged partner Eleanor, and a son he never knew existed. Well, if you’ve still not seen it, I hope you become a part of our cult. And if you have, go watch it again and hopefully change your mind.
4. ‘Rushmore’ (1998)
‘Rushmore’ is probably the quirkiest coming-of-age films ever made and is delightfully ahead of its time. Starring Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray, the film is about Jason’s character, Max Fisher, falling in love with his teacher, while creating a weird love triangle with Bill’s character.
The film is an overall laugh-out-loud while being dark and poetic. Some even consider this Wes Anderson’s best work.
3. ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ (2014)
While some might consider ‘Rushmore’ to be his best work, the Academy definitely thought ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ to be the best as the film went on to become his first Oscar nomination. Like we earlier mentioned, Wes Anderson is not averse to an ensemble cast, and ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ proves that by boasting about 17 actors in it.
The film follows the adventure of Monsieur Gustave, a respected concierge of a mountainside resort, and his bellboy after Gustave is framed for murder. The visual narrative that follows is magnanimous and enchanting with a colour palette and costume design that inspires. The design, cinematography, and characters of this film are so on point that it’s no wonder this was Wes Anderson’s first Academy Award nomination.
2. ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ (2012)
Wes Anderson’s seventh film released in the year 2012. The story was about the residents of New Penzance, a fictional island off the coast of New England in 1965. And to put it shortly, it was wonderful. ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ is a tale of twelve-year-olds Sam and Suzy falling in love and eloping together.
While the in-love but sad and confused teens are eloping, a dangerous storm is approaching, and a crew of equally confused and sad adults is out to find and rescue them.
Supported by the stellar supporting cast of Edward Norton, Frances McDormand, Bill Murray (again), Bruce Willis, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, and great performances by the young leads, Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward, the film is near perfection when it comes to delivering humour, romance, and teenage innocence. Bob Balaban as the narrator is adorably weird.
1. ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’ (2001)
If you’ve watched all Wes Anderson films and been a part of his fan club then you’ll know that ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’ is popularly considered his best work till date. And sorry for disappointing you with the same opinion, but I too stand by the popular belief.
The story of a dysfunctional family falling apart is a memorable masterpiece. Starring Bill Murray, Gene Hackman, Danny Glover, Anjelica Huston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, and Luke Wilson, the narrative follows the lives of three siblings, their success as kids, their even bigger failures as adults, their romance, redemption, and Ben Stiller’s red tracksuit.
By the time the film ends, you go back to what Owen Wilson’s character Eli, who has co-written the film, admits to Royal (Gene Hackman) in drug-fuelled desperation. He says, “I always wanted to be a Tenenbaum, you know”. We all wanted to be Eli, we all did.
As promised, here is some bonus Wes Anderson content.
‘Come Together’ (A H&M holiday short film directed by Wes Anderson)
Are you satisfied with our list, or do you think we missed out some of your favourites? Let us know in the comments box below!