With this week’s theatrical release of his latest film, ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’, and the impending Criterion Blu-ray edition of ‘The Life Aquatic’ (which finally brings all of his earlier features to the format), now seems like a good time to ask the question: What’s your favorite Wes Anderson movie? Assuming, of course, that you like any of his movies, and don’t think he’s the worst director in the world. (Don’t worry, we’ll give you an option to vote that too.)
I fully recognize the danger in asking this question. Anderson is an incredibly divisive filmmaker. People who are on his wavelength often love his movies, while others may find everything he does insufferably twee.
What routinely amazes me is the range of conflicting opinions about the director, even among those who enjoy some of his works. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard someone cite this, that or the other Wes Anderson movie as “the one where he finally gets it right.” No matter which Anderson film you name, you can find a contingent of viewers who say, “That’s the only Wes Anderson movie I like.” For some, that one movie is ‘Rushmore’. For others, it’s ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’, or ‘The Life Aquatic’ or ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’. And whichever one that person likes, he or she will often despise all of the others. “I love ‘Moonrise Kingdom’, but everything else he’s ever made is total shit.”
Amusingly, if you actually look at Anderson’s films objectively, they’re all pretty much the same as one another. Somehow, his movies ride such a fine line that even the minutest of differences can throw people’s opinions in radically different directions. I can’t think of any other filmmaker who affects viewers this way.
Personally, I’ve enjoyed all of Anderson’s movies. ‘Rushmore’ is my favorite overall, but I feel that ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ has a degree of emotional involvement that cuts through the director’s usual aloof detachment from his subject matter (which is typically a big turn-off for his critics).
Because it hasn’t opened yet, I’ve left ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’ off this poll.