Throughout his career, director Wes Anderson has cultivated a devoted following of fans thanks to his quirky tone, highly stylized cinematography, and frequent collaboration with a roster of renowned actors. His latest film, The French dispatch, addresses these expectations even more than any of his previous films.
However, just because the film reflects his style more than any other doesn’t mean that it makes it his best film. Whereas his filmography includes the nominee for best film The Grand Hotel Budapest, daring risks like Fantastic Mr. Fox, and fan favorites such as Rushmore, The French dispatch has a high bar to cross to qualify as one of Anderson’s best films.
ten Darjeeling Limited
Often regarded as one of Anderson’s weakest films to date, Darjeeling Limited is by no means a bad movie, just one that doesn’t quite measure up to the director’s other work. The film follows three brothers as they travel to India for a spiritual experience after the death of their father.
While some believe Darjeeling Limited is Anderson’s most underrated movie, many fans and critics have found the movie to be a retread of the same themes and characters, making it redundant and unremarkable for those who have seen any of the other films in the director.
9 The island of dogs
The stop motion film The island of dogs is taking place in Japan where a canine flu epidemic has led the government to ban all dogs from Trash Island. A young boy then embarks on a journey to find his dog. The film features many of Anderson’s regular collaborators returning to voice the dogs.
The director’s second foray into stop-motion feature film isn’t as memorable or fresh as the first. The film is beautifully directed and successfully translates Anderson’s style into stop motion. It’s a pretty entertaining and effective film, but one that never reaches the heights of Anderson’s best films.
8 Aquatic life with Steve Zissou
Clearly inspired by the French diver Jacques Cousteau, Aquatic life with Steve Zissou tells the story of an eccentric oceanographer who is determined to find the jaguar shark that ate its mate.
Initially, the film was seen as a disappointment, once again showcasing the same style, themes, and characters that audiences had come to expect without much innovation. However, more recently the film has garnered a cult following with fans who appreciate Murray’s performance and the depth he brings to the central character as well as the many humorous and poignant quotes from Anderson in the film.
7 The French dispatch
The recently released The French dispatch uses anthology-style storytelling to feature several different articles in a newspaper’s final publication following the death of its editor.
The film has a common problem with anthology films, as the quality of the segments varies with certain sequences, such as “The Concrete Masterpiece”, proving to be more successful than others. Sometimes the film feels more concerned with style and visuals than presenting a moving, focused story. While fans of the director will certainly find things to love about the film, the inconsistency prevents him from penetrating the upper half of Anderson’s filmography.
6 Rocket in bottle
Serving as the feature debut for Anderson, Owen Wilson, and Luke Wilson, Bottle Rocket follows a group of friends as they attempt to achieve what they believe is a simple robbery and flee, but complications ensue.
As Anderson’s first feature film, Rocket in bottle Established Anderson’s style and immediately introduced audiences to what would become the staples of Anderson’s films. While not as polished or polished as the director’s later films, its simplicity and style make it fresh and original.
5 Moonrise Kingdom
Moonrise Kingdom follows a young boy who runs away from the Boy Scout camp to find his matching lover, which leads the young couple to run away as they try to avoid being caught so they can be together.
Anderson has demonstrated his ability to tell coming-of-age stories and Moonrise Kingdom is one of his strongest, effectively presenting a universal and related tale of young love reimagining the tropes of romance. The story of the film also lends itself to some of Anderson’s finest photographs as he captures the picturesque scenes of nature.
4 The Grand Hotel Budapest
Located in Europe in the 1930s, The Grand Hotel Budapest follows a concierge and a welcome boy to a luxury hotel as they try to avoid being charged with murder while chasing a massive fortune.
The movie is filled with some of Anderson’s funniest characters, which in turn makes it one of his funniest movies of all time. But beyond that, the film uses Anderson’s style, exceptional production design, and an original story to endear audiences to its characters, and then turns that investment into a surprising and moving finale. Far from being moralistic, the film effectively uses its setting and story to communicate an important and insightful message.
3 Fantastic Mr. Fox
Adaptation of a children’s book by Roald Dahl, Fantastic Mr. Fox is a stop motion animated film about a fox trying to rob neighboring farms while trying to avoid getting caught and killed by angry farmers.
Dahl’s whimsical story is the perfect match for Anderson’s style and tone, resulting in a delightful film filled with charm and wit. At the time, that was exactly the reinvention the director needed after his release from Darjeeling Limited and felt like a breath of fresh air.
2 The Royal Tenenbaums
The Royal Tenenbaums follows a dysfunctional family of three siblings who were successful at a young age but failed to realize their potential as adults and an absent father who tries to reconnect with them later in life.
Because the movie is so character driven, its success depends on the writing and the performance, both of which are great. Gene Hackman in particular is funny and touching as Royal as he seeks redemption with his family. In many ways, the film helped establish the overall themes and approach that would become its hallmarks.
After the success of his first film, Anderson followed it up with arguably his best work, Rushmore. The film follows a precocious teenager and a wealthy businessman who each develop romantic feelings for a school teacher.
With interesting and well-written characters, great performances by Bill Murray and the rest of the cast, and Anderson’s style, the film is a quick and fun coming-of-age story with a sense of sadness and of loneliness that contributes to make him unique and earns him the first place in Anderson’s impressive filmography.
NEXT: 10 Behind The Scenes Facts About The French Dispatch
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