Wes Anderson Movies Ranked

3. Isle of Dogs (2018)

Isle of Dogs Review

This probably would have ranked at number one if it wasn’t for the potentially problematic choices made.

White voice actors take centre-stage in this near-future, fantasy version of Japan. While it has been argued that this is homage rather than appropriation, it feels like something worth mentioning. And, for a director who has a wealth of strong women characters in his arsenal, this film is strangely devoid. Though, those present are witty and fierce.

Despite this, Isle of Dogs is an astounding film. The stop motion animation style that Anderson used in Fantastic Mr Fox is used again to great effect. Isle of Dogs is incredible to look at even though it is set in a landscape of garbage and fleas. The backdrops glisten and every strand of fur sways independently in the wind.

There is so much to love in this story of loyalty, love and loss. As to be expected, there are visual jokes beyond the dialogue. You cannot escape from the sophistication and ambition of this film. And Anderson manages to create something hugely sentimental without a hint of anything too saccharine or twee. An accomplishment indeed.

2. Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

Moonrise Kingdom Review

In a rare move from Wes Anderson, Moonrise Kingdom tells a story about children. Oddly mature children, but children nonetheless.

Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kaya Hayward) love each other so decide to run away, leaving their dysfunctional (surprise, surprise) family homes behind. Moonrise Kingdom is the story of these wonderfully hideous families as they search for their missing children on what is a relatively small island.

The fact that the children are only twelve means everything is so innocent and wholesome. They say ‘I love you’ with such earnestness. The jadedness of the adults around them is highlighted by their innocence.

Even against greats such as Edward Norton, Frances McDormand and Tilda Swinton, Gilman and Hayward are firm stand outs as the star-crossed ‘lovers’. Each character takes themselves so seriously and that is where the comedy of this charming tale lies.

1. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2016)

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Wes Anderson is an often-nominated director, but it’s no surprise that The Grand Budapest Hotel is his most successful film when it comes to awards. Among its accolades are four Academy Awards, five BAFTAs and a Golden Globe.

The Grand Budapest Hotel tells the story of Zero (Tony Revolori), a lobby boy in the prestigious and eponymous hotel. A setting as rich and sumptuous as the colour palette. His mentor, the inimitable Monsieur Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) becomes embroiled in an inheritance dispute involving a valued guest (Tilda Swinton, of course), and a whimsical adventure begins.

Despite the serious backdrop of the Second World War, The Grand Budapest Hotel is a brilliant, absurd comedy. The ensemble cast are impeccable. Ralph Fiennes is perfect, Willem Dafoe is sinister, and Adrian Brody is deranged. And it is Shakespearian in its ability to tell a story within a story. Within a story, within a story…

With magnificent and sophisticated cinematography, The Grand Budapest Hotel stands tall, even amongst a set of films as brilliant as these previous nine.

Recommended for you: Paul Thomas Anderson Movies Ranked

Wes Anderson’s success in celebrating dysfunction and exploring loss has proven to be the foundation of his unique filmography, certifying him as one of American cinema’s most recognisable filmmakers. But what do you think? Do you prefer your Rushmore to your Grand Budapest? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to follow @thefilmagazine on Facebook and Twitter for more insightful movie lists.

Article updated to include Asteroid City 27th June 2023. Originally published 2nd May 2023.

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