3. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is a parody of and (as many are) a homage to the work famous ocean explorer and documentary maker Jacques Cousteau and as such is dedicated to him. Here Anderson tells the story of the title character Steve Zissou (Bill Murray) who recently lost his explorer partner in an attack by the elusive jaguar shark. Because of this he wants to go back out there and hunt the shark down in order to avenge his lost friend. He is only able to do this with the help of a man named Ned Plimpton (Owen Wilson) who is a lifelong fan that believes he is the estranged son of Zissou. The story revolves around Zissou trying to pull his life together as it is seemingly falling apart around him. It’s a human story and he’s not always a likable man, though it’s easy to see ourselves in him as he makes mistake after mistake. Perhaps the most memorable parts of the film are the incredible aesthetics, his huge cutaway ship in which we can see what’s going on in each room, the bizarre new animals that live underwater and the almost iconic uniforms. It’s all polished off with Seu Jorge’s Portuguese covers of Bowie classics that will leave you hunting for the soundtrack after.
2. The Royal Tenenbaums
Released on 2001, The Royal Tenenbaums was Andersons third feature film, after the critical success of Rushmore he managed to garner quite an impressive cast. Starring the likes of Gene Hackman, Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow, Danny Glover and Alec Baldwin with the addition of his now regular ensemble of Owen Wilson, Luke Wilson and Bill Murray. It tells the story of three siblings who were child prodigies, though now in later life have surmounted to nothing more than the average person. The story centres on their tumultuous relationship with their father who is trying to reconcile with them now he’s found out he has a terminal illness. It’s a heartfelt and surprisingly relatable story of how our childhood expectations often cripple us in our later years. That being said it’s still very funny, go figure.
1. The Grand Budapest Hotel
For me the top spot could go to no other film than The Grand Budapest Hotel. This is one of Andersons latest films, released in 2014 and is his most critically acclaimed of his movies, in fact it was for this film that he received three of his Oscar nominations, one of which was for Best Picture. It’s easy to see why, by this point Anderson seems to have figured out exactly how to create everything he might imagine and this film has a feel to it that none of the others seem to. The Film is based in the fictional country of Zubrowka during the 1930’s and tells the tale of the heyday of the Grand Budapest hotel, when it was under the management of Mr. Gustave who is played by Ralph Fiennes. It’s a sprawling tale of the fall of aristocracy in the time of war that is romantic, atmospheric and something of a technical masterpiece. It shows off every emotion with class and somehow makes you both laugh and mourn the loss of history in one fell swoop. Despite it’s excellent cast Fiennes steals the show and helps to make this the best Anderson film yet.