Five Must-Watch Movies For Anyone New To Wes Anderson

American filmmaker Wes Anderson is known for his distinctive style and unique aesthetic in his films. Studiobinder captured perfectly in its description of Anderson’s cinematic style the playfulness of his work, writing, “The overall Wes Anderson aesthetic is rather charming, and this includes his blocking and staging, writing, and performances. His characters are often gracious, have respect for one another, and cherish past memories.” If you’ve heard about or watched the trailer of his most recent film The French Dispatch, you will definitely see his distinctive touch on his work. Anderson has received several accolades, including Oscar nominations for his films The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), Moonrise Kingdom (2012), Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009), Isle of Dogs (2018), and The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), the latter of which he won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and the BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay. If you plan to watch Wes Anderson films for your next binge weekend, here are five of our recommendations.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

His Golden Globe award-winning film The Grand Budapest Hotel is set in the 1930s and follows the charismatic concierge Gustave H., of the Grand Budapest Hotel. He forms a friendship with his protege Zero, a junior lobby boy at the hotel, and the film is a narration of the adventures and mishaps the two share. The film stars Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Jude Law, Harvey Keitel, Bill Murray, Ed Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton, Tony Revolori, Owen Wilson, Tom Wilkinson, Tony Revolori, and Léa Seydoux. IndieWire reviewed the film, saying, “For every moment that the capriciousness threatens to derail the narrative, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is sustained by an allegiance to that same outlandish imagination. The movie celebrates Anderson’s solipsistic artistry as a necessary factor in his success.”

Moonrise Kingdom

The coming-of-age comedy-drama film Moonrise Kingdom is set on the fictional New England island of New Penzance. It follows the story of 12-year-old Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward), who become pen pals and fall in love and their quest to run away from home. A search party is organized to find the runaway lovebirds as a storm is about to hit the island. The film stars Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, Bob Balaban, and newcomers Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward. The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and the Golden Globe for Best Musical or Comedy. The Guardian described Moonrise Kingdom in their film review as follows, “This is an evocation of young love in a more innocent America: a charming, beautifully wrought, if somehow depthless film; heartfelt and thought through to the tiniest, quirkiest detail in classic Anderson style.”

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Anderson’s stop-motion film Fantastic Mr. Fox is based on the 1970 children’s novel of the same name by Roald Dahl. The film features the voices of George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, and Owen Wilson. The film follows the titular character Mr. Fox, voiced by Clooney, who works as a newspaper columnist and breaks a promise to his wife about not giving in to his animalistic instincts. His deeds endanger his family and lead to a battle with a group of farmers. The Independent Critic praised the film in their review, saying, “Absurd and awesome, wonderfully visionary and uniquely felt, Fantastic Mr. Fox is easily one of 2009’s best animated feature films and, if justice is served, a likely nominee throughout awards season. Twisted reality and animated fantasy blended to near perfection, Fantastic Mr. Fox is, indeed, fantastic.”

Rushmore

One of the earlier Anderson films worth watching is the 1998 film Rushmore, which was co-written by Anderson and Owen Wilson. It is a coming-of-age comedy-drama about a teenager Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman) of Rushmore Academy who falls for a first-grade teacher (Olivia Williams) and asks advice from industrialist Herman Blume (Bill Murray). Max, however, soon finds out that Blume starts sharing the same love interest making him furious and leading him to plot his revenge. Anderson won the Best Director award and Murray won the Best Supporting Male award at the 1999 Independent Spirit Awards. The Film Magazine reviewed the film and shared how Rushmore is the best movie to watch first if you want to explore Anderson’s films. “The cast are constant delight with a star making turn from Jason Schwartzman, and while Rushmore may not be as instantly quotable as the Anderson’s later releases The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Royal Tenenbaums, it is a fine coming of age tale nonetheless; a film that has held up well in the two decades since its release and will likely garner fans for years to come. A fine starting point for those wanting to dive into the world of modern film authorship.”

The Royal Tenenbaums

The Royal Tenenbaums is a comedy-drama film by Anderson that was shot entirely in and around New York City. The film was also co-written with Owen Wilson who also stars in the film. The movie follows the dysfunctional Tenenbaum family. The plot centers on the three genius Tenenbaum siblings who unfortunately become failures as adults due to prolonged negative experiences and are suddenly reunited with their estranged father due to his illness. The main cast features Danny Glover, Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Bill Murray, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Stiller, Luke Wilson, and Owen Wilson. The Royal Tenenbaums is said to be the film that showcased the beginning of his aesthetic and style. In an article published by CNN, they wrote, “The Royal Tenenbaums is the cult classic that informed all of Anderson’s subsequent work — and without which the Wes Anderson-esque world of books, Instagram accounts, music videos and fashion that’s become so entrenched in modern pop culture wouldn’t quite be the phenomenon it is today.” The Hollywood Reporter also praised the film in their review saying, “While the filmmaker’s propensity for preciousness threatens occasionally to overwhelm its highly contrived and quirky scenario, The Royal Tenenbaums is a deliciously absurdist comedy that should garner critical acclaim…”

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