Thanks to his unique visual style and brand of humor, Wes Anderson has solidified his role as one of the most creative and inventive filmmakers of all time. Over the years, the director has made quite a few memorable films, each typically focusing on a different but heavy theme.
However, with all the success the writer, producer and director has received, not all of his projects have been massive hits. In fact, some of his projects would even be considered total flops. Looking at some of his best and worst films over the years, here is our list of the 5 best and 5 worst Wes Anderson films according to Rotten Tomatoes.
10 Worst: She’s Funny That Way (2015) (44%)
In his defense, Wes Anderson was only a producer on She’s Funny That Way. According to Rotten Tomatoes, this is the worst project that Anderson has ever been involved in. Though the film doesn’t feel like Anderson’s usual work, the humor does feel reminiscent of what he usually incorporates into his films.
Like many of his other films, She’s Funny That Way actually has a pretty strong cast. Likewise, with an attempt to capture a certain brand of humor, it is all the more disappointing that the film turned out the way it did.
9 Best: The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) (91%)
As the worst of the best, The Grand Budapest Hotel is one of Anderson’s most celebrated works, at least in terms of direction and visual style. Of course, his usual brand of humor comes out within the film and a lot of actors commonly associated with Anderson make an appearance.
Likewise, with a narrative that is complex yet easy to follow, it is no surprise that the film was such a hit with audiences and critics alike. With all the awards the film has won as well, The Grand Budapest Hotel is well deserving of its spot amongst the greats.
8 Worst: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) (56%)
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou was initially considered to be a complete failure at the time of its initial release. Since then, however, it has become a very popular cult-film, with many people actually changing their opinions and attitudes towards it.
Though it is arguably one of the director’s weaker films, it is still surprising that the ratings were so low, especially considering how it fits in with the rest of Anderson’s discography. Overall, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is arguably a good film, though it is very hard to consider it to be one of Wes Anderson’s best.
7 Best: Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) (92%)
Not surprisingly, Fantastic Mr. Fox is considered one of Wes Anderson’s best films. As one of his few animated features, the film definitely feels like other things done by the accomplished filmmaker. With yet another all-star cast, Fantastic Mr. Fox delivers on a lot of heavy themes while also offering a very unique style of animation.
Based on the novel by Roald Dahl, the film mimics a lot of the same morally gray themes from the original story. Furthermore, despite the film’s PG rating, Anderson found a way to make the subject matter very approachable for younger audiences. Though it isn’t his best film, Fantastic Mr. Fox definitely deserves the high praise it has received.
6 Worst: Always at the Carlyle (2018) (58%)
Unlike other films on this list, Wes Anderson is actually considered to be an “actor” in Always at the Carlyle. The film is actually a documentary based on the Carlyle Hotel in New York City. Furthermore, Wes Anderson is interviewed for the film, so he isn’t exactly acting in the traditional sense.
Overall, there just isn’t too much that is interesting in the movie. Simply put, the documentary hints that some scandalous activity occurred, but it is mostly just some rather boring statements about things celebrities have done there. Perhaps, had a real scandal actually been uncovered, then there would have been something worth documenting. Unfortunately though, Always at the Carlyle is very underwhelming, and not really worth the time.
5 Best: The Squid and the Whale (2005) (93%)
Unlike many of his other films, Wes Anderson was only a producer on The Squid and the Whale. Inspired by true events, the film follows two young boys as they try to navigate their new lives following their parent’s divorce. Though Anderson himself didn’t direct the film, there are still a few elements that reflect his unique style.
While The Squid and the Whale also isn’t the director’s biggest film, it still earned several awards following its release. For a unique and touching coming-of-age story of sorts, there is still a lot to appreciate about this film that makes it one of the filmmaker’s best works.
4 Worst: The Darjeeling Limited (2007) (68%)
Centered around two brothers who have reunited after not speaking for a year, The Darjeeling Limited feels a lot like most other Wes Anderson movies. However, while it has a relatively low score on Rotten Tomatoes, it has received fairly mixed reviews across the board.
Granted, a 68% score isn’t the worst rating a movie could receive. While it could certainly be better, there are definitely many other films that have received far lower scores. Like with The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, there is still a lot to appreciate with The Darjeeling Limited. However, with everything else Anderson has done, this one does feel a bit weaker in comparison.
3 Best: Moonrise Kingdom (2012) (93%)
Though not the best project that the filmmaker has ever contributed to (according to Rotten Tomatoes), Moonrise Kingdom is considered to be the best thing Anderson has ever written and directed. Set in a fictitious New England, Moonrise Kingdom is an excellent coming of age story, arguably made better by Anderson’s unique, symmetrical visual style.
With another ensemble cast, the film not only has Anderson’s usual elements of humor and heart, but also tackles issues like mental health and sexuality in a very tasteful manner. With so many great elements to this film, it is easy to see why Moonrise Kingdom is the best thing that Anderson has ever directed.
2 Worst: The Royal Tenenbaums (2002) (80%)
Surprisingly, one of the director’s worst films is one that he is most known for. With an all star cast, The Royal Tenenbaums explores a very wealthy yet dysfunctional family. In the traditional Wes Anderson style, the film itself is very weird and full of the same dry humor as other films from him.
While still entertaining, Anderson has had stronger projects since. However, for one of his earliest films, The Royal Tenenbaums is far from a failure. Likewise, with one of his worst projects sitting at an 80%, it says a lot about the general quality of cinema that the director is known for.
1 Best: Hitchcock/Truffaut (2015) (96%)
For everything that Wes Anderson has contributed to film over the years, one of his more recent projects, Hitchcock/Truffaut is considered to be his best work. However, like Always at the Carlyle, this film sees the visionary director as an “actor” yet again. As yet another documentary featuring the director, Hitchcock/Truffaut is, of course, centered on Alfred Hitchcock and Francois Truffaut along with their contributions to the world.
While Wes offers a lot of great and insightful input, the film is a far greater hit with critics and those who appreciate classic cinema. While it truly is a wonderful documentary, general audiences may prefer Anderson more as a director. However, those who are fans of Hitchcock’s work especially are likely to agree that this documentary is one of the best things Anderson has ever been a part of.
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