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Every eccentric and quirky Wes Anderson movie, ranked (including the new ‘French Dispatch’)

  • October 22, 2021

Wes Anderson film.

The signature imagery, the eccentricity, the camera movement, the wide shots, the usual suspects (from Bill Murray to Owen Wilson), the constant blending of the goofy and the serious – all are hallmarks of Anderson’s cinematic work. And over the last 25 years, the Oscar-nominated, Texas-born auteur has made movies about dysfunctional families, thieving buddies, an island of stray dogs, young kids in love, a kooky oceanographer, an adventurous hotel lobby boy and many more colorful personalities.

The filmmaker’s latest all-star effort “The French Dispatch” (in theaters Friday), a collection of stories centered on American expat journalists in France, wholly embraces Anderson’s various quirks. In honor of the new film, we’re ranking all of the director’s films:

Review:Wes Anderson’s all-star ‘The French Dispatch’ inventively honors oddball journalism

10. ‘Bottle Rocket’ (1996)

Luke and Owen Wilson star as friends who plan to pull off a bunch of heists before joining the gang of a criminal landscaper (James Caan) until one of them falls in love with a hotel maid. Anderson’s first film – and the debut for both Wilson brothers – is rough around the edges but the talent potential for all three is there from the beginning.

9. ‘The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou’ (2004)

Murray plays the Jacques Cousteau-esque title character, a famed oceanographer and documentarian who seeks the jaguar shark that once killed his best friend. The very strange quest for his “white whale” even includes a love triangle between Zissou, a pregnant reporter (Cate Blanchett) and a man (Owen Wilson) claiming to be his son.

8. ‘The Isle of Dogs’ (2018)

Anderson pays tribute to Japanese cinema and the scrappy nature of underdogs in this whimsical stop-motion animated comedy. A dog flu leads a metropolis to banish  pooches (voiced by Murray, Edward Norton and more) to an island full of trash, and an orphan boy seeking his best friend befriends a grumpy stray (voiced by Bryan Cranston). 

7. ‘The Darjeeling Limited’ (2007)

A year after their father’s death, a trio of estranged brothers (Adrien Brody, Owen Wilson and Jason Schwartzman) meet up for a spiritual journey/train ride through India. They bicker, fight, save some folks and seek out their mercurial mom (Anjelica Huston) in the Himalayas on a humorous but thoughtful trip of sibling reconnection.

6. ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ (2012)

Young talent shines in Anderson’s splendid 1965-set love story. The coming-of-age romance centers on two 12-year-olds – a lonely boy scout (Jared Gilman) and a troublemaking girl (Kara Hayward) – who run away and meet up on a New England island, with the scout’s troop leader (Norton) and girl’s parents (Murray and Frances McDormand) in hot pursuit.

5. ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’ (2001)

Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Stiller and Luke Wilson star as genius siblings who garner fame and renown as kids yet face lackluster adulthoods. Gene Hackman hijacks the movie as their estranged father, who shows up claiming to have terminal cancer in the bittersweet and drolly hilarious dramedy – and for many, Anderson’s signature work. 

‘Tenenbaums’ turns 20:Gwyneth Paltrow reveals the only movie she can watch herself in

4. ‘The Fantastic Mr. Fox’ (2009)

Anderson’s first foray into stop-motion is his animated masterpiece, a brilliantly charming effort with George Clooney voicing the title character. Mr. Fox steals local food and produce to feed his family (including Meryl Streep as Mrs. Fox), but running afoul of three very dangerous farmers endangers his friends and his marriage.

3. ‘The French Dispatch’ (2021)

An excellent ode to New Wave cinema and oddball reporters, the film follows three features in the final issue of the titular journal, including tales of an incarcerated painter (Benicio del Toro) and a student revolutionary (Timothée Chalamet). And while he’s barely in the film, Murray’s the beating heart playing the beloved French Dispatch editor.

2. ‘Rushmore’ (1998)

Anderson’s Hollywood breakthrough was this stellar coming-of-age comedy with Schwartzman,in his film debut, as an idiosyncratic teenager who befriends a wealthy businessman (Murray). Yet the pair become rivals for the affections of a widowed first-grade teacher (Olivia Williams) and engage in some great one-upmanship shenanigans.

1. ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ (2014)

Anderson’s most multifaceted film is this wonderful and wild gem with comedy, adventure, mystery, action, high drama and themes of war and friendship. In the 1930s, Zero (Tony Revolori) is a newly hired bellhop at a famous European hotel who goes on the lam with his concierge boss (Ralph Fiennes) and falls in love with a kind baker (Saoirse Ronan) in a madcap story that also involves a rare Renaissance painting and the imminent rise of a fascist empire. 

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