Wesley Wales Anderson (born May 1, 1969) is an American director and filmmaker.
Anderson's films can be generally summarized as weird, quirky and fast-paced comedies loaded up with dramatic elements revolving around dysfunctional characters (usually whole families of them), with Parental Abandonment being a typical theme. He often has the same actors in his movies and uses the same techniques, including symmetrical compositions, limited color palettes, the use of wide-angle anamorphic lenses, and sparing but effective use of slow motion, resulting in a distinctive Signature Style that makes it very clear that you're watching a film by him.
While Anderson's first films were more grounded in real settings and exhibited his artistic sensibilities in a more latent form — understandably so due to relative budget constraints and lack of filmmaking experience — his later career would see his name grow synonymous with ornate, imaginative, and originally designed settings that coincided with increasing levels of precision in his films' cinematography and acting performances.
Frequent collaborators in Anderson's films include Eric Chase Anderson (his kid brother), Seymour Cassel, Bill Murray, Mark Mothersbaugh, Alexandre Desplat and Owen Wilson (a full list can be found on Wikipedia).
Martin Scorsese reportedly really likes Anderson's work, and even once called him "the next Martin Scorsese." His first eight films are additionally part of The Criterion Collection.
He's also not Jeff Mangum, believe it or not.
You can now vote for your favourite Wes Anderson flick HERE!
- Bottle Rocket (1996)
- Rushmore (1998)
- The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
- The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)
- The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
- Hotel Chevalier (2007) - short prequel film with characters from The Darjeeling Limited that was featured before the film during its theatrical run
- Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) - his debut foray into stopmotion animation and based on the book of the same name by Roald Dahl.
- Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
- Castello Cavalcanti (2013) - short film about a racercar driver (played by Jason Schwartzman) who crashes in a small Italian village.
- The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)<!—/index—>
- Come Together (2016) - Christmas commercial short film for the brand H&M, starring Adrien Brody.<!—index—>
- Isle of Dogs (2018) - his second stop-motion animation film after Fantastic Mr. Fox
- The French Dispatch (2021)
- Asteroid City (2023)
- The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar (2023) - based on the book of the same name by Roald Dahl and his second adaptation of a Roald Dahl work behind Fantastic Mr. Fox.
Wes Anderson and his works provide examples of:
- All-Star Cast: Since the 2010s, his films are ludicrously packed with big names of acting (from his own Production Posse and with newcomers each time).
- Ambiguous Time Period: A lot of Anderson's works feature either retro settings that feel slightly modern or modern settings that feel very retro. Good examples are Budapest, which is primarily set in the 30s but has a number of modern touches, Isle of Dogs, which takes place a few decades into the future but with a very Dieselpunk, Zeerust aesthetic to it, and Mr. Fox, whose timeline is simply unclear, although it seems like the 60s or 70s.
- Bittersweet Ending: The main characters of Anderson films usually end the film happier than they started, but still suffering from loss or regret.
- The Caper: Most of Anderson's films involve a plan to steal something, infiltrate somewhere or escape something.
- Central Theme: Or themes. His films focus on themes of grief, loss, parental abandonment, dysfunctional families, siblings rivalry, unlikely friendships, and love.
- The Comically Serious: One of Anderson's trademarks is putting characters in very absurd, whimsical, or cartoonish surroundings and setting and having them deliver very silly lines in a completely serious and unflinching tone.
- Costume Porn: Characters tend to each have their own stylized, colorful, and highly distinguishable costume. By contrast, identical (but still stylized) uniforms are also common. Anderson is sometimes said to treat his characters like dolls.
- Creator Thumbprint:
- Anderson's films are characterized by a preoccupation (some would say an obsession) with framing his scenes symmetrically and at flat, straight angles. The camera is always oriented at right angles to the action, and he never uses Dutch angles.
- Another common trait of Anderson's films is often characters will look straight into the camera while doing their parts, yet it's not done as an attempt to break the fourth wall but that it's just the direction the person happens to be looking at right at that particular moment.
- Dramatic Deadpan: Despite being in such fanciful, whimsical worlds and have absurd yet revealing lines of dialogue, his characters are performed with the driest of deliveries. Usually Played for Laughs and occasionally for drama.
- Dysfunctional Family: Characters typically suffer from an unhappy family life.
- Episode Title Card: His films are often divided into chapters.
- Fatal Flaw: His characters usually have one.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: Rest assured; if he ever includes something with writing (most often a newspaper), it will always contain legible writing.
- Impoverished Patrician: Many of his characters are from wealthy backgrounds, but lack any real income.
- Humans Are Flawed: The theme of most of his stories.
- Parental Abandonment: Most of his characters lack parental role models. Their parents are dead or simply distant.
- The Plan: Anderson's characters are as meticulous as he is. Almost every film will feature characters giving very precise instructions or laying out a very detailed plan for the events to follow. In Bottle Rocket, Dignan's plan maps out the group's entire lives.
- Production Posse: Anderson has invoked a large and loyal posse of go-to actors who fill out all of his films (including but not limited to Adrien Brody, Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Willem Dafoe, Tilda Swinton, Saoirse Ronan, Anjelica Huston, Bob Balaban, Mathieu Amalric, Léa Seydoux, Tony Revolori...). He also tends to collaborate behind the scenes with the same loose group of people as well, including Associated Composer Alexandre Desplat.
- Rich Boredom: Almost all of his early films focus on the ennui of the wealthy class, usually contrasted by one lower-class go-getter.
- Scenery Porn: Anderson's films are all meticulously shot and costumed in a very stylized manner. Critics have described/accused his characters of looking like dolls in a doll house.
- Shades of Conflict: Most of his films are towards Grey-and-Gray Morality.
- Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Grand Budapest Hotel are closer to Black-and-Gray Morality due to having flawed but endearing heroes and clearcut villains.
- Isle of Dogs goes to the traditional Black-and-White Morality. However, it then goes to White-and-Grey Morality later on when the main antagonist gives away one of his kidneys in order to save his nephew's life, who he loves dearly.
- Signature Style: Very much so, to the point that you can usually figure out he's the director of a film almost instantly. His trademark details include characters speaking directly ahead and positioned in the exact middle of the shot, bright colors, narration, extreme attention to background details, wealthy characters who are extremely dysfunctional at best, actors deliberately understating or delivering silly lines in a completely deadpan way and with little emotion, characters who aren't nearly as smart or impressive as they think they are, use of wide lenses, less than stellar parental figures and a number of actors who reoccur throughout his work.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Somewhere in the middle leaning closer to the idealistic side. While his films focus on difficult themes like dysfunctional families, loss of innocence, grief, adultery, parental abandonment, and sibling rivalry, they also carry a fair amount of heart, whimsy, and comfort.
- Smoking Is Cool: Most, if not all, of his films to date include at least one character who smokes, or at the very least, develops a smoking habit (Bob from Bottle Rocket; the three central characters from Rushmore; Royal and Margot from The Royal Tenenbaums; Bean from Fantastic Mr. Fox; etc...)
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Most of the heroes in Anderson's earlier films are examples of this from Max in Rushmore to Royal in The Royal Tenenbaums to Steve in The Life Aquatic of Steve Zissou, but averted for his child protagonists in Moonrise Kingdom and The Grand Budapest Hotel.
- Widescreen Shot: He's known for using very wide lenses.