wes anderson movies© IMDb

6 Times Wes Anderson Delivered Cinematic Excellence On Screen

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, chances are you’ve recently stumbled upon a delightful video trend circulating the internet. It involves individuals crafting and editing reels in the captivating style reminiscent of the legendary filmmaker Wes Anderson. Picture eccentrically composed frames, meticulous symmetry, and vibrant colour grading that bring scenes to life, paired with the director’s poetic perspective, dry wit, and precise attention to detail across framing, setting, music, wardrobe, and every other formal element of his art.

This trend couldn’t have emerged at a more opportune moment, coinciding with the release of not one, but two highly anticipated Wes Anderson films in 2023. Asteroid City, boasting a star-studded cast including Tom Hanks, Scarlett Johannson, Margot Robbie, Maya Hawke, and more, is scheduled for its grand debut at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in May, followed by a wider release in June. Meanwhile, the second offering, The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar, based on Roald Dahl’s beloved book of the same name and featuring Benedict Cumberbatch in a leading role, is set to grace the screens later in the year.

With these exciting releases just around the corner, now is the perfect time to immerse yourself in the masterpieces created by this cinematic genius. Who knows? A binge-watching session might just inspire you to craft an eccentric reel of your own, paying homage to Anderson’s distinctive aesthetic.

Without further ado, let’s delve into our selection of seven all-time favourite movies by this visionary director.

The French Liberty (2021)

Anderson’s latest film consists of three distinct vignettes that serve as the final tales penned by the fictional Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun newspaper. Titled The French Dispatch of the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun, or simply The French Dispatch, the movie was produced in segments due to the pandemic. This anthology comedy-drama revolves around three separate plotlines, following the preparations of the French foreign bureau of the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun newspaper for its ultimate publication. While the film boasts a large ensemble cast, one of the most prominent figures is undoubtedly Timothee Chalamet.

Watch it here.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, which won an Academy Award, is widely regarded as his finest work, and rightfully so. The film presents a mesmerising visual experience, captivating viewers with its stunning colours, meticulously crafted compositions, and a storyline that tugs at the heartstrings. This delightful comedy-drama features Ralph Fiennes in the lead role, portraying a hotel concierge who finds himself unjustly accused of murder. The narrative follows his quest to vindicate himself while also embarking on an adventure to secure a priceless Renaissance painting, aided by his protégé Zero.

Watch it here.

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

Get ready for a nostalgic journey with this charming film that explores the magic of young love. Moonrise Kingdom features an impressive ensemble cast including Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, and more. Set on the fictional island of New Penzance in New England, USA, this coming-of-age tale follows two adolescents who embark on a daring adventure. The orphaned boy escapes from a scouting camp and reunites with his pen pal and love interest, and together they flee to a secluded beach. As the story unfolds, a search party led by the island’s police captain, along with the other scouts and family members, sets out to find them.

Watch it here.

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)

In this delightfully whimsical film, the talented Bill Murray takes on the role of Steve Zissou, an oceanographer seeking revenge on the shark that killed his partner, Esteban. Zissou’s character serves as both an ode to and a parody of the famous French diving pioneer, Jacques Cousteau. Alongside Murray, the stellar cast includes Owen Wilson, Cate Blanchett, Jeff Goldblum, and more, adding depth and charm to the story.

Watch it here.

The Royal Tenenbaum (2001)

When discussing Anderson’s films, it’s hard to overlook this earlier masterpiece of his. Released in 2001 and co-written by Owen Wilson, the film features a stellar cast including Wilson himself, along with Danny Glover, Bill Murray, Ben Stiller, and Gwyneth Paltrow. The story revolves around three exceptionally talented siblings whose lives take a tumultuous turn. Initially experiencing great success in their childhood, they eventually face profound disappointment and failure as they navigate adulthood.

What truly distinguishes Anderson’s films is not just their meticulously composed shots, whimsical costumes, or dry humour, but rather the underlying theme of loss and melancholy that permeates his work. This sense of longing injects a profound psychological realism into even the most fantastical worlds that Anderson creates.

Nowhere is this delicate balance achieved better than in The Royal Tenenbaums. The film opens with a divorce that shatters the titular family, setting the stage for a comedy that explores themes of trauma and regret. The visual and auditory delights presented in the film are truly enchanting, from the Archer Avenue house to the iconic costumes, Alec Baldwin’s wry narration, and Anderson’s meticulously curated soundtrack featuring artists like Paul Simon, Nico, and Elliott Smith.

However, what elevates this movie to the top of everyone’s list is the profound humanity that defines the characters of the Tenenbaum family. Within this intricately constructed universe, Anderson portrays a bruising, flawed, deeply relatable and nuanced cast of characters.

Watch it here.

Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

Considering Anderson’s thoroughness in creating painstakingly detailed environments, it’s almost surprising that he waited until his sixth film, a stop-motion adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s book, to make a fully animated feature. This format allowed the director to meticulously craft an entirely new world from scratch. The enchanting kingdom of Mr. Fox, inhabited by whimsical animals with their own unique way of life (whack-bat!), comes to life in a remarkably immersive manner.

George Clooney voices the charismatic rogue Mr. Fox, with a supporting cast of starry voices. Amidst Mr. Fox’s daring heists, the film delves into the genuine emotional connections he shares with his wife (Meryl Streep) and son (Jason Schwartzman). While offering a lighter tone compared to Anderson’s other works, the film still exhibits a distinctive sense of perfection, with its blend of indulgence and absurdity. Mary Sollosi aptly captures its charm.

Watch it here.