Ranking The Films of Wes Anderson: Alex’s List

Last week we took a look at Nick’s list ranking Wes Anderson’s filmography. While there are points I can agree with, there are certain movies I felt should be higher on the list and others I didn’t think deserved such a high ranking. Now as a disclaimer, I do think all of Wes Anderson’s films are spectacular, each in their own way, so ranking them is really just picking the best of the best. That being said I will now proceed with the correct ranking of the following seven films.

7. Bottle Rocket

I have a confession to make. Bottle Rocket is the only W.A. movie I have not watched the entirety of. When I had tried watching the film, it was right after I had seen most of W.A.’s movies and because of that I believe I went into the movie with expectations that were too high. I became a bit disinterested with what I thought was a rather slow pace for the movie and I ended up turning it off. With my high expectations, I had thought there would be an abundance of Wes Anderson’s signature style, but I failed to realize that since this was his first film, his style had not yet fully developed. I plan on revisiting Bottle Rocket soon, but for now it will remain at the bottom of my list.

6. Moonrise Kingdom

This is the first Wes Anderson movie I saw in theaters. This is also one of Wes Anderson’s films I don’t entirely connect with. I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is, maybe it was that I couldn’t connect with the characters well, or maybe it’s something else that a few more viewings can reveal. Whatever it is, I feel distanced from the movie. The film still has all of the usual Wes Anderson elements and his style is indeed present but I feel like he scaled his style back a bit and in doing so created a more approachable film for people who have not seen much of his earlier work. This could very well be the reason I rank this film lower on my list, since what really draws me to Wes Anderson’s movies is his style.

5. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

Critically this is Wes Anderson’s lowest ranked movie. So then why doesn’t it stand at the bottom of my list? For me there is so many memorable things about the film. Whether it is the stop motion, the red caps, the David Bowie covers sung in Portuguese, or Bill Murray’ Steve Zissou there many elements that stand out and, to me, that’s what brings the movie higher up my rankings. The Life Aquatic also seems to mark a change of pace for the director. Having just come off the success of The Royal Tenebaums, Wes Anderson took a bit more freedom and tried something new. The result produced a story that was a bit loose and characters that might have needed a bit more development, but, as I said before, the film is still quite memorable.

4. Fantastic Mr. Fox

Just as Wes Anderson took a different turn with The Life Aquatic, he also changed things up and directed a stop-motion feature. The main theme of the movie is summed up quite well by Meryl Streep’s character Felicity Fox, “We’re different, we all are… but there’s something kinda fantastic about that isn’t there?” I feel like this quote is as true for the characters in the movie as it is for Wes Anderson’s filmography. His movies are all different, but all still fantastic.
Fantastic Mr. Fox is more lighthearted than the W.A. movies that came before it, which, when coupled with the brilliant stop motion, makes this is a movie that kids can easily like and one that I enjoy watching with my younger sisters. With that lightheartedness though, the film does leave less of an impact over time.

3. The Royal Tenebaums

The cast is what stands out about this movie. Among many of the great qualities of Wes Anderson’s movies is the ability to bring together a varied and talented cast successfully. The Royal Tenebaums is a prime example of this. Featuring stellar performances by Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow, and the Wilson Brothers, the movies spins the tale of the estranged father Royal Tenenbaum trying to reconnect with his family. I believe that this is the movie where Wes Anderson’s characteristic style really begins to show itself. He starts getting a bit more colorful and the set decoration becomes a bit more ornate. The film also contains what is, arguably, Wes Anderson’s best slow-motion shot. The Royal Tenenbaums marked the last movie Wes Anderson movie Luke Wilson was in. It will be interesting to see if he makes a return to possibly top his performance as Richie Tenenbaum, a feat that would not be easy to do.

2. Rushmore

The first Wes Anderson movie I saw I still hold dear. For me this was the film that kicked off my ever-growing interest in Wes Anderson’s storytelling and approach to filmmaking. Out of the previously mentioned films and the characters in them, Max Fischer stands above them. It’s Max’s wit and interactions with the other characters of the film that I believe really drive the story forward and as with all of Anderson’s films, the comedic timing sets the bar for the rest his filmography. This movie very well could have taken first place in my ranking, but for me, I find Wes Anderson usual flair to be somewhat lacking. This is of course because, as I said earlier, Anderson’s signature style did not seem to fully develop until The Royal Tenenbaums which Anderson directed after Rushmore. Still, the film is spectacular and is a great introduction into Wes Anderson’s films.

1. The Darjeeling Limited

I don’t think this film can critically be considered as Wes Anderson’s best. All the same, it’s still my favorite. There is so much to this film that really stands out to me. The setting of India provides a gorgeous backdrop to the three brother’s struggle to reconnect with each other. By also placing the brothers on a train traveling across the countryside, they are forced to interact with each other in close space as the viewer is also taken to a new location after each few scenes on the train. Having three sisters myself, I can (to an extent) connect with the brother’s relationship, which makes the film all the more meaningful. The movie is a little slower than most of Anderson’s other work, but in my opinion this allows us time to take everything in, whether it is the scenery, a particularly well executed shot, or the coexistence of the imagery and soundtrack. With the typical use of the Rolling Stones and the Kinks, Wes Anderson also borrowed music from famous Indian films. Overall The Darjeeling Limited transcends this list and places second as one of my favorite movies of all time and Wes Anderson as stands as my favorite director.

Whether or not you agree of disagree with my ranking of Wes Anderson’s films, my list stands as is… at least until I have time to factor in The Grand Budapest Hotel. Until then, let us know in the comments how you’d rank the films here.