Even if the name doesn’t ring a bell, everyone knows who Wes Anderson is by his style. The amazing array of colors, the eccentric plot lines, and the familiar niche of characters makes Anderson’s films stand out from the rest of the crowd. His films are like works of art that has something new to find every time it’s viewed; you don’t just hope Bill Murray makes a cameo, you watch out for his cameo. His most recent film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, is another quirky film to be added to the lot. But before rushing out on March 7th to find one of the few theaters that will be actually showing it, take the chance to watch these five amazing films that show what defines the Anderson oeuvre.
Only Wes Anderson’s second film, this film illustrates the eccentricity of a 15 year old boy with “big” dreams. Jason Swartzman plays Max Fischer, prep school student who is addicted to being the king of extra curriculars but not so much academic grades. When he gets put on academic probation, he bonds with a detached, wealthy industrialist (Bill Murray). But when they both become infatuated with a teacher at Max’s school, Max does everything in his power to win her heart. What I love about this film is that Anderson doesn’t do anything to make you sympathize with Max. I thought he was an arrogant prick at the beginning of the movie and that hatred was still there by the end of it.
4. Fantastic Mr. Fox
Based on the Roald Dahl children’s book, Anderson utilizes stop motion animation, talking animal puppets dark humor, and the sexy voices of George Clooney and Meryl Streep to bring this book to life. Mr Fox (George Clooney) is a master thief and always goes on “raids” to steal from the surrounding farms. When he almost gets killed by a farmer, his wife (Meryl Streep) announces that she is pregnant and asks him to stop. Fast forward a few years, Mr. Fox is bored out of his mind writing for his local newspaper and taking care of his wife and odd son (Jason Shwartzman). However, when an opportunity arises to steal again, Fox decides he wants to do one more raid. With hilarious side characters and an array of innuendo, this film is a treat for adults as well as kids.
3. The Royal Tenenbaums
This film is always a nice reminder that there are always more dysfunctional families out there than mine. The Royal Tenenbaums is about a family of child prodigies who get together after being estranged for years when they hear that their father is diagnosed with a terminal illness. I’m not even sure why it’s categorized as a comedy. While there is dark humor sprinkled throughout, the main focus is on the loneliness of these characters and how Anderson tries to get this family who hates each other to love again when tragedy strikes.
2. The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou
One of Bill Murray’s only leading roles in the Anderson universe, he shines as the title character, Steve Zissou. Murray knows how to play the miserable man down on his luck so well. His characters’ disconnection from reality is what makes him comedic, and in The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, he delivers that disconnection perfectly. Murray plays the title, Steve Zissou, a modern day Jacques Cousteau. After his partner is killed by shark while filming a documentary, makes it his quest to kill that shark. Packed with great supporting actors such as William Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, and Anjelica Huston, The Life Aquatic proves to be a fun, yet depressing ride.
1. Moonrise Kingdom
Even though the other four movies I previously listed were fantastic, it was no contest on what was going to be my number one choice. Moonrise Kingdom has been a film that is not only one of my favorite Anderson films but one of my favorite films in general. Not only is it a beautiful story , but it’s just beautiful in general. The time frame is 1965 and the setting looks like it should be on a cover of an old story book. Beautiful, funny, and extremely adorable, Moonrise Kingdom makes viewers reminisce about their first love. . Sam (Jared Gilman) is an outcast and is constantly bullied by his fellow boy scouts while they are away at camp. He runs away to find Suzy (Kara Hayward) who he believes is his true love while on a pursuit from her controlling parents (Frances McDormand and Bill Murray) and his boyscout leader (Edward Norton). It’s a great coming of age story that reminds everyone that it doesn’t matter who they fall in love with.