If you’ve been scrolling through TikTok lately, it’s highly likely that you’ve stumbled upon videos showcasing the distinctive “Wes Anderson” style that has taken the platform by storm. While you might not immediately recognise the face behind the name, chances are you’ve encountered one of his many critically acclaimed films. Wes Anderson stands as a prominent American filmmaker, revered for his distinctive creative vision and remarkable directorial prowess.

For your next unforgettable movie night, we’ve handpicked a collection of his top five must-watch films for an unforgettable cinematic experience.

1. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

“Grand Budapest Hotel” Movie Poster. Photo: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Set in the fictional European country of 1930s  Zubrowka, The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) is a delightful comedy adventure that follows the misadventures of Gustave H., the legendary concierge of the Grand Budapest Hotel, and his trusted protégé, Zero Moustafa. Their escapades involve a priceless painting, a family fortune, and the pursuit of justice in a rapidly changing world.

Known for his impeccable service, Gustave takes pride in catering to the desires of the hotel’s elderly female guests, going above and beyond to ensure their satisfaction. However, their idyllic existence takes a mysterious turn when one of Gustave’s lovers meets an untimely demise under dubious circumstances. Suddenly, Gustave finds himself in possession of a priceless painting and wrongly accused of the woman’s murder, thrusting him into a gripping tale of intrigue and suspense.

The charm of ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ lies in its eccentric production design, meticulous attention to detail, and a star-studded ensemble cast led by Ralph Fiennes. The film is a visual masterpiece, featuring vibrant colours and precisely composed frames. Through witty humour and a compelling narrative, the film explores themes such as friendship, loyalty, and the fleeting nature of time interweaved in the nostalgic portrayal of a bygone era. With its depth and emotional resonance, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is a picturesque Wes Anderson classic and a testament to his compelling storytelling abilities.

2. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

The Royal Tenenbaums Movie Poster. Photo: Vintage Movie Posters Co

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) is a bittersweet comedy-drama that follows the eccentric Tenenbaum family, composed of former child prodigies and their flawed patriarch, Royal Tenenbaum. As they navigate personal struggles, failed relationships, and their own idiosyncrasies, they are forced to confront their past and rediscover the meaning of family.

Royal Tenenbaum and his wife Etheline were once a couple who brought three exceptional children into the world before their separation. Each of their offspring possesses remarkable intellect and talent, earning them the distinction of being prodigies. However, the extraordinary achievements and brilliance of the young Tenenbaums were overshadowed and all but forgotten in the face of two decades marred by betrayal, failure, and misfortune. The weight of these hardships was largely attributed to their father, Royal. ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’ delves into the narrative of this remarkable family, as they unexpectedly reunite during a wintry season, unearthing buried emotions and triggering a series of events that lead to redemption, self-discovery, and reconciliation.

The film garnered ​​significant popularity due to its witty dialogue, distinctive characters, and exploration of family dysfunction and personal redemption with a perfect blend of humour and poignancy. From the exquisite set design to the carefully crafted costumes, Anderson’s meticulous attention to detail adds an immersive and visually stunning layer to the film’s narrative. The balance between eccentricity and emotional depth, coupled with its unique blend of dark comedy and heartfelt moments, makes “The Royal Tenenbaums” an absolute delight to watch for fans of Wes Anderson’s distinctive style and fans of nuanced family dramas alike.

3. Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

‘Moonrise Kingdom’ Movie Poster. Photo: Vulture

Set in the sleepy New England island town of New Penzance in the 1960s, Moonrise Kingdom (2012) tells the enchanting tale of two young lovers, Sam and Suzy, who run away together. As the community and Suzy’s quirky family embark on a search, the film explores themes of young love, adventure, and the bittersweet nature of growing up.

In 1965, New Penzance, a serene island off the New England coast, shelters a community seemingly shielded from the troubles plaguing the outside world. Amidst this tranquil backdrop, twelve-year-olds Sam and Suzy find themselves deeply enamoured and boldly decide to embark on a journey of young love, escaping their ordinary lives. However, their blissful plans take an unforeseen turn as a violent storm looms over the island, threatening their safety and well-being. In a heartwarming response to the impending disaster, a group of delightfully eccentric adults rally together to form a quirky search party, driven by the urgency to locate the young runaways before calamity befalls them. 

‘Moonrise Kingdom’ is a captivating and whimsical tale that explores the transformative power of love, friendship, and the extraordinary lengths people will go to protect those they care about in the face of impending danger. The young leads Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward put forth exceptional performances alongside the ensemble cast, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, and Bill Murray to create a heartwarming and enchanting film. With its blend of innocence, adventure, and a touch of melancholy, the film invites audiences into a world that feels both familiar and delightfully imaginative, making it a genuinely enjoyable and beloved film for audiences of all ages.

4. Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

Fantastic Mr. Fox Movie Poster. Photo: Vintage Movie Posters Co

Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) is a stop-motion animated adventure based on Roald Dahl’s beloved children’s book. The film is filled with wit, charm, and an endearing quirkiness. Quirky, because the main protagonist is a fox named Mr. Fox. Endearing, because of its exploration into themes of family, identity, and the longing for a more adventurous life.

In the idyllic world of Mr. Fox and his loving wife, twelve years of tranquil bliss are disrupted when Mr. Fox succumbs to his primal instincts and embarks on daring raids of the neighbouring farms owned by Boggis, Bunce, and Bean. However, his impulsive actions not only jeopardize his marriage but also put the lives of his family and animal friends at risk. Forced underground by the vengeful farmers, Mr. Fox must rely on his innate craftiness and wit to outsmart his adversaries and emerge victorious from the depths. This enchanting tale explores the timeless themes of family, loyalty, and the pursuit of a more adventurous life, as Mr. Fox learns that sometimes one must embrace their true nature to overcome the challenges that come their way.

“Fantastic Mr. Fox” offers a delightful blend of adventure, humour, and heartwarming moments centred around embracing one’s true nature and the importance of family and community. The aesthetic appeal of the stop-motion animation alongside the low baritones of George Clooney’s voice does a great job of sucking audiences in and makes for a truly captivating film. Mr Fox is endearing and the film dialogue is sharp and filled with Anderson’s trademark dry wit, offering moments of laughter and introspection throughout the film. Overall, “Fantastic Mr. Fox” is a classic for a good reason, its perfect balance of humour and emotional depth make it a must-watch in Anderson’s filmography. 

5. Rushmore (1998)

Rushmore Movie Poster. Photo: Filmaffinity.com

Rushmore (1998) is one of Anderson’s early releases and his first big Hollywood break. Although not as popular as some of his later works, the film marks a significant entry in his filmography, with its exploration of youth, ambition, and unrequited love.

The plot begins with the arrival of a beautiful first-grade teacher, portrayed by Olivia Williams, at a renowned prep school, the foundations of young hearts are shaken. Among the students smitten by her charm is Max, an ambitious teenager played by Jason Schwartzman, who finds himself hopelessly infatuated. Eager to win her affection, Max seeks guidance from the father of his schoolmate, played by the talented Bill Murray. However, their innocent pursuit takes an unexpected turn when Max’s new confidant also becomes entangled with the teacher, transforming their camaraderie into fierce competition for her attention.

Like many of Anderson’s other films, ‘Rushmore’ is complex with multiple layers of emotional depth, nuanced characters and a well-crafted narrative. The film has a singular sense of colour, focusing mainly on blues, greens, and reds in order to create a heightened reality. This charming and bittersweet tale captures the emotional turbulence and yearning for significance that is often associated with youth. It delves into themes of identity, ambition, and the complexities of relationships, offering a heartfelt exploration of the human experience. Overall, this American comedy is a must-watch for fans of his work.

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