50 Years of Wes Anderson

50 Years of Wes Anderson

50 Years of Wes Anderson

We celebrate the legendary director's birthday with a retrospective of his best works.

We celebrate the legendary director's birthday with a retrospective of his best works.

Text: Emma Li

Today marks the start of May, which means it’s also Wes Anderson’s birthday. The American filmmaker, who is turning 50 today, is known for stylized films with distinctive visuals. Anderson is often regarded as a modern auteur responsible for crafting fantastical worlds with incredible attention-to-detailed narratives and connections through recurring elements like symmetry and cohesive color palettes. In celebration of Anderson’s birthday, we revisit the director’s most iconic films.

Arguably Anderson’s breakthrough introduction to the world, “Rushmore” (1998) is a coming-of-age comedy about a teenager, his friend, and their mutual romantic feelings for an elementary school teacher. The film was Anderson’s second collaboration with co-writer Owen Wilson and it stars Bill Murray, who became established as an actor in independent cinema.

“The Royal Tenenbaums” (2001) continued to cement Anderson’s presence as a comedy and drama filmmaker. The film, also co-written by Wilson, is told through a narrative inspired by J.D. Salinger. Three gifted siblings grow up reveling in success but are met with bitter failure as adults.

Anderson’s fourth feature film “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” (2004) stars Bill Murray as Steve Zissou, an oceanographer who is set on avenging his partner Esteban who was eaten by a mystical jaguar shark. The film pays homage to French diver Jacques Cousteau with Zissou acting as a parody figure. Although the film flopped at the box office, it secured a cult following and positive reviews by film critics.

The successive “The Darjeeling Limited” (2007) performed more favorably, bringing in double the film’s budget. The film follows three brothers who hope to rekindle their bonds as they travel on a train adventure across India. "The Darjeeling Limited" was nominated for the Golden Lion at the 2007 Venice Film Festival.

Anderson’s first stop-motion animation film “Fantastic Mr. Fox” (2009) is based on Roald Dahl’s novel of the same name in which a fox steals food every night from wealthy farmers who retaliate by attempting to kill Mr. Fox. The film was nominated for the Academy Award’s Best Animated Feature and Best Original Music Score in 2010.

For “Moonrise Kingdom” (2012), Anderson drew on personal experiences and memories to create a coming-of-age film where a young orphan escapes from a scout camp to unite with his pen pal. The two lovers are shunned for their unusual personalities and seek solace on an isolated beach called the Moonrise Kingdom. The critically acclaimed film premiered at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival and received multiple award nominations.

A tribute to the Austrian writer Stefan Zweig, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” (2014) is set in the fictional country of Zubrowka where Monsieur Gustave, a concierge, and his lobby boy form a friendship through their collective effort to prove Gustave’s innocence when he’s framed for murder. The film won a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy, earned three other Golden Globe nominations, and nine Academy Award nominations.

Anderson’s most recent film “Isle of Dogs” (2018) is a stop-motion animation film that saw the filmmaker stepping into science fiction territory. The dystopian film is set in Japan during the near future and follows a boy as he searches for his dog after the species is banished to an island due to an outbreak of canine flu. “Isle of Dogs” opened at the 68th Berlin International Film Festival, which awarded Anderson the Silver Bear for Best Director. The film was also nominated at the Golden Globes and Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature Film and Best Original Score.

Anderson’s upcoming drama film “The French Dispatch” is slated for release either at the end of 2019 or sometime the following year. The piece boasts an impressive cast featuring VMAN 39 cover star Timothée Chalamet, Saoirse Ronan, Kate Winslet, Tilda Swinton, as well as longtime collaborators Owen Wilson and Bill Murray, who only has a small role for this film. The remarkable lineup continues to grow, as Elisabeth Moss recently revealed that she joined the project just for the sake of collaborating with Anderson.

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