A Complete Round-up of Wes Anderson Films You Can Watch Over and Over
Happy Birthday, Wes Anderson! Thank you for all the inspo
Whether you’re a film junkie or not, chances are you’d recognize a Wes Anderson film when you see one. Since his directorial debut in 1996, he has continually set himself apart with symmetrical elements and perfect color schemes. The stunning visuals aren’t the only constants, though. Young love, unique storytelling and the thirst for escape are just as vital to his inimitable body of work. Ahead, we break down all of Wes Anderson’s films for you. Happy viewing!
Bottle Rocket (1996)
What it’s about: Charming albeit extremely naïve, wannabe thief Dignan convinces two of his friends to join him in pulling off a heist. With romance, a sportscar and a part-time master criminal added to the mix, Dignan discovers they may have gotten more than they bargained for.
Why we love it: Bottle Rocket is a collection of firsts. It’s the first film with the Wilson brothers, is Anderson’s directorial debut and is the world’s first glimpse into his creative mind. Commercially, the film was a flop, but under the loose ends and rough edges lies a one-of-a-kind story of friendship.
Watch it for: Owen and Luke Wilson’s first film performance, authenticity and a whole lot of heart.
What it’s about: The film follows a 15-year-old student and his unlikely relationships with a wealthy industrialist and a first-grade teacher. Romance, revenge and the signature Anderson madness we all know and love, ensue.
Why we love it: While all Anderson films are laced with his signature wit and sarcasm, that dry edge feels particularly apparent in Rushmore. Comparing this film to the director’s more recent works feels almost jarring: it’s unapologetic and doesn’t ask for the audience’s favor. This film gives us a glimpse into a darker side of Anderson’s direction without being a downer—a feat in our books!
Watch it for: A healthy dose of cynicism, satirical humor and an ironic take on love.
The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
What it’s about: A common favorite among Anderson’s films, The Royal Tenenbaums offers a glimpse into the lives of a dysfunctional family of has-beens who unexpectedly reunite one fateful winter.
Why we love it: For all its absurdity, there’s a lingering sentimentality to this film. It’s not your conventional family flick at all: it’s jaded and sarcastic, and that’s the beauty of it. And what about those visuals? The Royal Tenenbaums is arguably the piece of work that defined Anderson’s style. When we watch Chas, Richie and Margot on screen, an Adidas track suit is no longer just an Adidas track suit and New York is no longer New York. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, give it a shot and you’ll see what we mean.
Watch it for: Unique storytelling, iconic characters and equally memorable uniforms.
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)
What it’s about: Oceanographer Steve Zissou embarks on a mission to hunt down the Jaguar Shark, a creature that killed his partner. A man who believes he is Zissou’s son joins the crew, as does a pregnant reporter with whom they both grow infatuated with. From there, revelations, misadventures and elusive pirates.
Why we love it: Decidedly offbeat, The Life Aquatic didn’t fare so well with critics. However, there are good points we simply can’t overlook, the biggest being that it is a stylish masterpiece. There’s an obvious abundance of primary colors, a split-ship set and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Watch it for: Beautiful production design, stunning colors and Filipino pirates.
The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
What it’s about: Welcome aboard the Darjeeling Limited, a train that sets the scene for the reunion of brothers Francis, Peter and Jack, who have not seen each other since their father’s funeral a year prior. Having survived a recent accident, Francis is insistent on reconnecting with his brothers throughout their trip across India, despite their individual problems.
Why we love it: By the time this film was released, Anderson had completely grasped the direction he wanted to pursue visually. While The Darjeeling Limited’s largest downfall is its obvious value of style over substance, this is also what makes the film so memorable. Three men in gray suits against the vibrant landscape of India—there’s much to see.
Watch it for: An answer to (or even more fuel for) your burgeoning wanderlust and a good soundtrack.
Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
What it’s about: Upon discovering that his wife is pregnant with their first child (while caught in a fox trap, no less), thief Mr. Fox agreed to lay low for the safety of his family. Fast-forward to present day: his family moves away and he is now a newspaper columnist. Mr. Fox craves the excitement of his past life and returns to his thieving ways by stealing from three farmers, causing a domino effect that puts his entire community in danger.
Why we love it: Two words: stop motion. Anderson takes a tale originally penned by Roald Dahl and reimagines it with creative storytelling. It’s whimsical, touching and can be appreciated by viewers of all ages.
Watch it for: A warm family-centric story, fantastic voice acting and your fill of whimsy.
Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
What it’s about: Sam and Suzy, two 12-year-olds mature beyond their years, fall in love and make a pact to run away together. They create a world of their own in an isolated cove as the rest of the world searches for them and a violent hurricane lurks.
Why we love it: This is arguably the most heartfelt of Anderson’s films. While it’s doused in his usual picture-perfect style, it doesn’t come across like most coming-of-age films these days do. It’s honest and sweet, finding footing in his usual themes of love and familial bonds. Moonrise Kingdom feels pure all around. A fun fact: the film was nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards and Best Motion Picture—Musical or Comedy at the Golden Globes.
Watch it for: A charming tale of innocent young love.
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
What it’s about: The Grand Budapest Hotel follows legendary hotel concierge Gustave H. and his trusty bellboy Zero through a series of misadventures. A renaissance painting and pastry boxes may be involved.
Why we love it: It’s hard to pull off romantic comedy films the way Wes Anderson does. It’s silly and engaging. It can even be sad in little doses. The Grand Budapest Hotel is poignant on so many levels. The characters are lovable, the set design breathtaking, iconic scenes—well, iconic. The 2014 flick was critically acclaimed with good reason.
Watch it for: Delightful characters and plenty of visual inspiration.
Isle of Dogs (2018)
What it’s about: In Anderson’s second stop motion film, all dogs are quarantined on an island after a canine flu outbreak in Japan. A young boy, Atari searches for his pet on the island and gets by with a little help from an unlikely group of dogs.
Why we love it: Symmetry, a curated palette and all the things we love about Anderson’s meticulous film style are presented loud and clear. However, it doesn’t stop there. Isle of Dogs brings packs more than just a visual punch—it boasts of humor and political symbolism, too.
Watch it for: A bittersweet message told through a creatively crafted movie about man’s best friend.
Ready for a binge watch session? Get cozy and watch Wes Anderson’s most iconic films on Netflix!