Wes Anderson has long been the apple of the independent cinema fan’s eye. From “Rushmore” to “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” Anderson has assembled an eclectic troupe of actors from which he draws to cast his worlds.
This Friday sees the opening of “Isle of Dogs,” Anderson’s second foray into stop-motion animation and a film that almost assuredly will continue his trope of notorious dog/cat deaths. In honor of Anderson’s new film, we look back at the top 10 performances from a Wes Anderson film.
10. Wallace Wolodarsky as “Kylie” – “FANTASTIC MR. FOX” (2009)
Undoubtedly the least famous actor on this list, Wallace Wolodarsky brings an aloof brilliance to Mr. Fox’s sheepish, rule-following side-kick in “Fantastic Mr. Fox.” Whether it’s delivering lines like “I’ve always had good credit” or “Who how? What now?”, Wolodarsky brings laughs as Kylie.
9. Jason Schwartzman as “Max Fischer” – “RUSHMORE” (1998)
As the breakout star of Anderson’s first bona fide hit, Jason Schwartzman was great as the main character, Max Fischer in “Rushmore.” In a comically brooding combination of toxic masculinity and a pathetic desire to be more than he is, Schwartzman crafted a character that just how stupid and creepy boys (men?) can be.
8 & 7. Jared Gilman as “Sam” and Kara Hayward as “Suzy”– “MOONRISE KINGDOM” (2012)
Holding your own opposite a fellow co-lead newcomer in a cast of Oscar-winners and stars is no easy task, but Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward did just that in “Moonrise Kingdom.” While Hayward edges out Gilman slightly, these two middle schoolers had undeniable chemistry and a lock-hard grasp on the self-serious comedy needed to make their moonrise kingdom shine.
6. Billy Murray as “Herman Blume” – “RUSHMORE” (1998)
Bill Murray makes his first of two appearances on this list, this time as Herman Blume, the old couple mentor/friend to Schwartzman’s Max. Murray has made a name for himself playing self-deprecating roles, and this is no exception; Murray’s peak brand of monotone delivery is a perfect match to Anderson’s old style.
5. Gene Hackman as “Royal Tenenbaum” – “THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS” (2001)
In unquestionably the most unpredictable actor pairing on Anderson’s career, Gene Hackman received some career-best reviews as the main role in Anderson’s 2001 film, “The Royal Tenenbaums.” Hackman combines comedy with a turgid, holier-than-thou personality to give us a true man behind the legend, a feat rarely replicated on screen but often attempted.
4. Gwyneth Paltrow as “Margot Tenenbaum” – “THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS” (2001)
Clad in heavy eyeliner and a fur coat that would make LaVona Harding jealous, Gwyneth Paltrow owns “The Royal Tenenbaums” as the problem child, Margot. Paltrow overcomes some of Anderson and co-writer Owen Wilson’s shortcomings with the character to give us the most rounded and thoughtful character in the Tenenbaum household, despite her appearances. Undoubtedly the best female performance in a Wes Anderson movie and worthy of a butterscotch sundae.
3. Bill Murray as “Steve Zissou” – “THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU” (2004)
If it was Anderson fandom blasphemy to have Hackman out of the #1 slot, it is perhaps burn-at-the-stake worthy to have Murray’s performance of the title role in “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zizzou” taking its place. Murray gives perhaps his most layered performance as an animated version of Jacques Cousteau, a marine scientist discovering life, relationships, and his son in an Ahab-ian quest to find the shark who killed his partner.
2. Jason Schwartzman as “Ash” – “FANTASTIC MR. FOX” (2009)
Perhaps the most controversial entry on this list, Schwartzman, while acting through voice alone, is the unabashed star of Anderson’s stop-motion debut, “Fantastic Mr. Fox.” As the angry, grouchy, cap-wearing misanthrope, Schwartzman hits home what its like to not only live in the shadow of a magnanimous father but be a totally different person from your parents while wanting to love them and have them love you all the same.
1. Ralph Fiennes as “M. Gustave” – “THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL” (2014)
Ralph Fiennes has proven his comic chops over and over again the last half decade, and his lead performance as the foppish lothario concierge, M. Gustave, is the shining example of that in “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” Anderson cast Fiennes, most famous for playing a Nazi, an English patient, and a noseless wizard, as the persnickety lead of his bombastic eastern European caper. A true shame his brazen performance wasn’t recognized by the Academy.