Wes Anderson is indisputably one of the most easily-recognizable directors of all-time, which is perhaps the reason I was so immediately drawn to his work. It’s cool to have a favorite director, and he’s an easy choice for the untrained eye. I wouldn’t argue that I’m fully trained now, but I’m definitely better than I was three years ago, and having recently finished Anderson’s entire directorial filmography, I would actually still argue that he’s one of my favorite directors, if not my favorite. For that reason, I think it’s only fair to recap his films in case anyone else wants to dive in before his newest movie, The French Dispatch, drops later this year (or next year, or in 2023). Respectably, I find each of his nine feature films to be within only a star or two of each other ranking-wise, so we’ll cover them chronologically instead of going from worst to best.
Bottle Rocket (1996)
This was my most recent watch—mainly because I kept putting it off due to the fact that I like doing things when I feel like it and not when I have an article deadline to meet. Coincidentally, it was also my least favorite of Anderson’s films, which I think can be attributed to a number of factors. Firstly, it was his first full-length feature, which is very evident due to the lack of what anyone would normally consider his stylistic shooting and editing style. It is definitely his plainest-looking movie, and that does it no favors. Secondly, Bottle Rocket catches the Wilson brothers relatively early into their careers, and I felt like they weren’t really filling in their own shoes yet. I also found their characters to be relatively unlikable and the plot—a group of three amateurs attempting to pull off some heists, essentially—to be just OK. A fun fact for my less-enlightened friends: Owen Wilson (most famous in my peabrain for playing the miniature cowboy in Night at the Museum) was roommates with Anderson in college, and he and his brother have a role in almost every film Wes has ever made, with varying degrees of significance. Luke Wilson is hot, so I have to assume that is why he’s allowed to tag along.
Rushmore is an absolute gem and a must-watch for any wannabe Anderson fanatic—despite the fact that, like its predecessor, it’s not as immediately-recognizable as his work to someone not familiar with, say, his favorite actors to cast. We get our first tastes of Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray partnering up with the director here, and it’s obvious why he stuck with them in his following films. The two are outstanding, and Schwartzman especially delivers, which is made all the more impressive by the fact that he was only 18 (I did mental math, so correct me if I’m wrong) when Rushmore was filmed. The plot, which is also funnier and more enjoyable (though not any less awkward than Bottle Rocket) follows Max (Schwartzman) as a pubescent private school student who loves only one thing more than his school—the new first grade teacher. Bill Murray portrays his randomly-acquired father figure, who ends up falling for the same woman and pitting himself against Max in a bid to win her heart. The movie is as ridiculous as it sounds, but it is wonderful, loveable and easy to re-watch a million times, just like many of the other titles on this list.
The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
It took me three tries to get through this—which was probably due to untreated ADHD—but it feels necessary to acknowledge, nonetheless. On the third try, I made it all the way through in one go, and I found myself crying with 20 minut