Every Wes Anderson Film Ranked From Best To Worst
Quirky indie director Wes Anderson is known for his signature visual style and his use of recurring cast members. Anderson turned 49 on May 1, and we thought it was fitting to look back at his artistic legacy, filled with imaginative and outlandish aspects. Here are all of the director’s feature films, ranked from best to worst.
1. The Royal Tenenbaums
Starring Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Stiller and the Wilson brothers (Owen and Luke). This 2001 Anderson movie really nailed the tone of dreamy melancholy in shabby chic New York.
It chronicles the supreme dysfunction of the Tenenbaum family, and follows a wealthy gaggle of siblings who are young has-beens in desperate need of therapy.
This comedy drama hones in on the characters with poignancy and the idea of what power love has. It is one of the most unique and authentic Anderson films that has as much weight in storyline as it does style, wringing a generation of Paltrow-inspired Halloween costumes.
2. Fantastic Mr. Fox
Starring the voices of George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman. This was Anderson’s first animated stop-motion debut in 2009, and it was a success in our books.
In this adaptation of Roald Dahl’s literary work, Mr. and Mrs. Fox and their son live a peaceful home life that is soon disrupted by Mr Fox’s undomesticated animal instincts to rebel against evil farmers.
Animation somehow went better with his eccentric, quirky style than real life does. This is probably thanks to his wild imagination. In this film, Anderson both nailed the humor and balancing it with a family-friendly tone.
Starring Bill Murray, Olivia Williams and Jason Schwartzman. This 1998 piece of art was Anderson’s second film and remains one of his best. It follows the journey of a neurotic yet sensitive intellectual at a prestigious school who battles with his tycoon mentor for a teacher’s heart.
A story of academic woes and young heartbreak, blended with Anderson’s classy loony tone. This film represents Anderson’s identity as a filmmaker, as well as being one of his best soundtracks yet, filled with music from the British invasion in the ’60s. This film lives in a genre of its own creation.
4. The Grand Budapest Hotel
Starring Ralph Fiennes, Edward Norton, Tony Revolori, Saoirse Ronan, F. Murray Abraham and Tilda Swinton. This film garnered Anderson his first Academy Award nomination for Best Director and Best Picture.
In it, a hotel concierge and his young apprentice galavant through the mishaps of a fictional pre-World War II conflict in a made-up, European country. Anderson’s previous cinematic debuts deserves a nomination more than this film. This is the filmmaker’s wild aesthetic at its best, featuring a tour-de-force comedic performance by Ralph Fiennes.
5. Bottle Rocket
Starring Owen Wilson, Luke Wilson, Robert Musgrave, James Caan, and Lumi Cavazos. This 1996 film was the feature film directing debut of Wes Anderson.
It focuses on a group of young Texans attempting to become expert thieves. Owen Wilson plays the leader of the group who eventually goes on the lam, classic heist style.
At only 95 minutes, this is one of Wes’s best but most simple works of art. The premiere of his eccentricity, if you will.
6. Isle of Dogs
Starring the voices of Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Jeff Goldblum, Scarlett Johansson, Bob Balaban, Greta Gerwig and Yoko Ono, this 2018 film was Anderson’s second animation attempt, and it came out pretty well albeit a bit contrived.
It wasn’t as compelling in storyline or as unique in its humor as Fantastic Mr Fox, but it did ask soul-searching questions of identity. The most breathtaking part of the film was the on-point animation that kept us invested in these dogs’ lives. Overall, it’s a gorgeous act of absurdism that’s classic to the Anderson brand. We can’t wait to see his next animated debut.
6. The Darjeeling Limited
Starring Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, Adrien Brody, Amara Karan, Bill Murray and Anjelica Huston. This film is about three brothers who take a trip across India, trying to mend their estranged relationships via an “Eat Pray Love” spiritual quest that ends up being catastrophic.
This 2007 film was meant to be a return to The Royal Tenenbaums‘ form but fell surprisingly flat. This movie tried to make fun of people soul-searching in exotic landscapes for their own purposes. However, it ended up being too disconnected and having a lack of awareness in its own occupation of that space.
7. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
Starring Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Cate Blanchett, Anjelica Huston, Willem Dafoe and Jeff Goldblum. It’s hard for Anderson to make a flat-out terrible movie, but this mockumentary is not his best work.
Here, a famous oceanographer and his team go on an expedition to find an elusive shark that killed his partner. It ends up being too quirky and an overload of whimsy come on board in an attempt to nail the nautical. But instead, it ended up being dry and overly saturated at the same time.
Though the film’s hipster cult paradise has impressive stylistic chops, this film is so busy with predictable Anderson elements there’s no space for anything new.
8. Moonrise Kingdom
Starring Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Frances McDormand, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward.
Ah, to be young and in love. This film set in 1965 is about young romantics trying to run away in New England’s forestry, in the face of intense authorities. It tries way too hard to be cute, even though its starring actors are undeniably adorable. Anderson pulls the twee card in a way that seems like it should be reserved for his animated pieces.