Top Five Wes Anderson Films

Wes Anderson’s films have all varied greatly in their reception with the critics, from great acclaim to little recognition at all. But for those of us who love his work, Wes Anderson can do no wrong. With this in mind, here are five of my favourites from his sizeable body of work, not including his many excellent short films.

1. The Royal Tenenbaums – This was one of Anderson’s first works to receive critical acclaim, and was in many ways his first break with the public. It introduces us to the glorious world of the Tenenbaum family and its three children: Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow), Chas (Ben Stiller) and Richie (Luke Wilson) – all of whom are talented and high achieving child prodigies, moulded by their mother (Anjelica Housten), who is a star in her own right. At its head is Royal Tenenbaum (Gene Hackman), an altogether terrible father and husband who nonetheless has his own redeeming qualities. It is a touching and amusing family that shows Anderson’s excellent understanding of how people tick and communicate, and includes what is one of the most intense and dark scenes from any of his work.
2. The Grand Budapest Hotel – Anderson’s most recent work is based on the writings of Austrian author Stefan Zweig and follows Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes), a concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars. In my opinion, it is Anderson’s most visually rich film, and is set beautifully to a fascinating period in history. As always it is hugely character driven (you may come for the action, but will stay for the characters) and there is something behind it which is deeply emotional, despite the bravado and personality behind its main characters. It’s a really amazing film, and even more so when you remember the magnificent Gustave H. is also Voldemort, which is a testament to Fiennes’s excellent range, and is one example of a series of superb performances from all of the actors involved.
3. Moonrise Kingdom – This follows the tumultuous love affair of Sam and Suzy (Jared Gilman and Kara Haywood), two 12-year-olds who fall in love and make a pact to run away together. What follows is a frantic search from Suzy’s agonised parents and Sam’s scout troop as the children do their best to survive together alone in the woods. It is a really sweet and quaint film, with a splendid soundtrack and cinematography that works perfectly. A firm favourite among Anderson fans.
4. RushmoreRushmore tells the tale of the 15-year-old playwright Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman) and his love for a young widowed teacher (Olivia Williams), which is rivalled by his good friend and millionaire Herman Blume, played by Bill Murray. An astonishing performance from Schwartzman and remarkable scriptwriting combines to make one of the best films with an adolescent protagonist I have ever seen.
5. Fantastic Mr Fox – This stop-motion re-imagining of Roald Dahl’s children’s classic has something for everyone, including some of the most stunning animation I have ever seen. A startling venture from Anderson into the world of animation that really brought a classic into reality, and a screenplay that Dahl would no doubt have approved of greatly. It cannot be denied that Anderson’s strengths lie in stunning and picturesque use of imagery and mise en scène and his writing of screenplays, and this film really is a beautiful showcase of both of those talents.