The Student Publication of Keystone

The Keynote

The Student Publication of Keystone

The Keynote

The Student Publication of Keystone

The Keynote

Every Feature Film by Wes Anderson Ranked from Worst to Best


Wes Anderson is a true modern visionary in mainstream film. He’s known for his immediately recognizable visual style, and for writing, directing, and producing all of his films. Wes Anderson is essentially a household name at this point, which is difficult for any director to achieve. For some, after twenty years of films with similar themes, visuals, and dialogue, his style has gotten old, but personally, I’ve enjoyed each one of his eleven releases to some extent. Here’s my ranking of each one of his feature films:


  1. The Darjeeling Limited

There’s a lot to love about The Darjeeling Limited. It includes some of my all-time favorite needle drops, described as when a preexisting song is used in a movie, and I love the dynamic between the characters, location, and visual style, being a film that takes places almost entirely on a train trip.  It is a unique film in the grander scheme of Wes Anderson’s career, yet, overall, this is easily his dullest film. The themes of familial reconnection and struggling parents are explored much better in some of his earlier films such as The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and The Royal Tenenbaums. Ultimately, it really doesn’t have any moments that stand out. The Darjeeling Limited is mostly an unremarkable hangout movie with a great visual style, and if that’s the worst Wes Anderson can do, that’s pretty great. 


  1. Rushmore

Rushmore is rightfully considered a classic to some, but I just could not connect with much that happened in the movie. While this movie put Wes Anderson on the map for many people due to its strong comedy, awesome music taste, and great moments, Wes hadn’t fully found his style yet. After seeing what he would go on to do, this film doesn’t fully work for me. 


  1. The French Dispatch

The French Dispatch is probably Wes Anderson’s most visually impressive movie, but as an anthology film, each section is hit or miss. With the varying quality of each section and the general lack of characterization or emotion that comes with this narrative style, I’ve always found it hard to get into this film.


  1. Bottle Rocket

Being his first film, this is easily Wes Anderson’s least stylized work, yet, despite this, I fell in love with the characters in this film, and the Wilson brothers’ sense of humor as a duo. This movie lacks a true plot, but that truly doesn’t matter, because the characters and their situations are so charming and fun to observe. This is the first film on this list I would recommend to anyone, Wes Anderson fan or not.


  1. Isle of Dogs

Wes Anderson’s second stop-motion animated film is a pretty entertaining story of dog liberation with some truly beautiful moments. Following Grand Budapest Hotel, this film began a phase in Wes Anderson’s career, which he is still in. In this period in his career, Wes Anderson uses his style to build fantastical, charming worlds that advance whatever he’s trying to say. Comparatively, the old Wed Anderson took a more character-based approach. While Isle of Dogs might feel like just another one of his films, Wes Anderson may have built his largest world with this one.


  1. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

Musically, this is easily one of my favorite Wes Anderson films, with only one film on this list having a better soundtrack. I absolutely love the unique approach that this film takes to the soundtrack, mostly being made up of Sue Jorge’s absolutely wonderful Portuguese David Bowie covers. I mostly remember this movie for its extremely powerful ending, which also goes with a great soundtrack moment. Solid, underrated movie.


  1. Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise Kingdom has multiple of my favorite scenes in any of Wes Anderson’s movies. While this movie has a pretty small story compared to his others from around this time (The Grand Budapest Hotel, Isle of Dogs), the child performances are some of the best I’ve ever seen, and the overall feel created by the setting is unmatched.


  1. The Grand Budapest Hotel

The first film on this list that I would consider one of my all-time favorites, The Grand Budapest Hotel, is a triumph of comedy, style, acting, and character. There’s no question as to why this may be Wes Anderson’s most commercially successful film to date, making over 100 million dollars at the international box office. From Ralph Fiennes’s performance to boy with apple and the pink dollhouse sets, there’s so much to love in this movie. The only reason The Grand Budapest Hotel is not higher on the list is that I personally connect to the top 3 movies more. 


  1. Asteroid City

Wes Anderson’s newest film is a triumph. Directly following French Dispatch, his most visually inventive film, Wes continued this extreme use of style, but he made a film with the most compelling themes, characters, and emotions since The Royal Tenenbaums. Asteroid City is an incredible exploration of grief, the artistic process, and isolation, and could become my favorite of any of his movies if it ages well.


  1. The Royal Tenenbaums

The Royal Tenenbaums is the film where Wes Anderson fully defined his style. Coming after Rushmore, he continued the use of funny, quirky characters, but defined himself as a director visually. The costumes, sets, and designs are much more striking in this film than anything that came before and would inform the rest of his career. This film is also his first of many films that would explore family connection and strained parental relationships. The Royal Tenenbaums also hits harder emotionally than any other Wes Anderson film. My favorite aspect of this film, though, is its soundtrack. In my opinion, this film has the best collection of needle drops of all time. From Needle in the Hay, to Look at Me, These Days, Stephanie Says and Ruby Tuesday, the moments in which these songs play define this movie, and the soundtrack fits together so well. The Royal Tenenbaums will always be a classic.

  1. Fantastic Mr. Fox

Fantastic Mr. Fox, to me, is the pinnacle of Wes Anderson’s filmography. With this film, he perfects each of the aspects that make his films stand out. This movie has possibly the most vivid use of color, being stop motion animated, because the oranges and yellows are absolutely stunning. The themes go deeper than any other Wes Anderson movie, which is surprising given that it’s an adaptation of an extremely simple Roald Dahl book. The voice acting is perfect. One last aspect of this movie that makes it stand out from the rest is the beautiful ambiguity of some of its most memorable scenes. I especially remember the scene where Mr. Fox encounters a wild wolf. This moment, which is mostly silent, reveals so much about the main character and his struggles with himself, and filmmaking like that is what I love. Fantastic Mr. Fox is perfect in every way, and I believe this film will be remembered for quite some time.

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About the Contributor
Octavio is a senior at keystone whose interests include independent music, film, and modern political issues.

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