6. The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
A year after their father’s funeral, three brothers bond on a trip across India. It is a simple premise for a beautiful and intimate film.
While the setting is vast, The Darjeeling Limited remains a domestic story because of the zoomed in look into the lives of Francis (Owen Wilson), Peter (Adrian Brody in his first of many Wes Anderson films) and Jack (Jason Schwartzman). Returning to a smaller cast, like Anderson’s earlier films, helps to create this intimacy.
The juxtaposition of familial duty and true friendship is on display here. Wilson, Brody and Schwarzman are fabulous as the leads and completely believable as the competitive, troubled brothers. While the story is charming and well conceived, it suffers slightly from Anderson’s repeated use of themes. The films ranking higher all capture something more unique in their storytelling.
5. Asteroid City (2023)
A group of brilliant young minds and their families convene in the desert for a weekend of science, romance and grief. Interwoven with the playwright creating their tale, and the actors playing them, it’s all very meta.
Ensemble casts are a staple of Anderson movies, and Asteroid City is no exception. The wonderful Tony Revolori is wasted in a near-silent part, and Anderson favourites Jeff Goldblum and Tilda Swinton have minor roles. However, Jason Schwarzman and Jake Ryan are both exceptional.
Asteroid City is truly beautiful to look at. The too-bright, too-fake façade adds to the surrealness of it all. The detailing is exquisite, even down to the grill marks on a sandwich.
It’s incredibly funny but lacks a central plot to get behind and fully invest in. It probably isn’t the film to introduce someone new to Wes Anderson, but there’s certainly a lot for the long-term fans to enjoy.
4. Fantastic Mr. Fox (2008)
Fantastic Mr Fox manages to achieve the accolade so many films fail to. It’s better than the book it is based upon. Adapting such a well-known and well-loved source material is always a risk but Anderson pulls it off. Fantastic Mr Fox is thinner on the ground of Anderson’s troop of regular actors, and it feels fresher because of it.
The story tells of a fox who plans to rob three farmers because they’re terrible men and he wants their food. The film’s additional characters add depth and layers that aren’t there in the Roald Dahl book. Meryl Streep is brilliant as Mrs Fox. Ash (Jason Schwartzman) and Kristoff (Eric Chase Anderson) are a perfect addition as they add that family tension that Anderson handles so well.
The animation is beautiful and the attention to detail is beyond fastidious. It’s properly funny and even if you thought you knew these characters from the book, Anderson has made them completely his own.
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