From foxholes to submarines, swanky Manhattan apartments to coastal New England, the films of Wes Anderson continue to take audiences on wayward and whimsical cinematic journeys. Anderson proves to be one of the most prolific filmmakers working today. His singular, and signature, vision inspires moviegoers today with his familiar cast of actors, hyper-stylized sets, wry dialogue, and fierce commitment to detail. It’s a rarity to be able to make films that audiences can re-watch and continually find new details to enjoy about his work. Today is a fitting day to celebrate the auteur, as it is his 50th birthday.
The Early Years
Anderson began his career in filmmaking the quintessential way. His father gave him a Super 8 camera for an early birthday, and he began writing and making films in his hometown of Houston, Texas. The filmmaker would eventually attend the University of Texas at Austin, majoring in philosophy. While attending university, the filmmaker worked as a projectionist and eventually met Owen Wilson, one of his frequent collaborators. Anderson’s professional turn came with “Bottle Rocket” (1996), a critical darling but a commercial flop, starring Luke and Owen Wilson.
“Rushmore” (1998) soon followed. Starring Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray, the film earned Anderson even greater acclaim with Schwartzman as the punchy lead and Murray as a genius, and unexpected, casting decision. From there he directed one of the films he is best known for, “The Royal Tenenbaums” (2001), about a family of precocious and affected Manhattanites, loosely inspired by J.D. Salinger’s “Franny and Zooey.” The film went on to earn a nomination for an Academy Award.
Anderson’s Latest Work
The filmmaker’s next two films, “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” (2004) and “The Darjeeling Limited” (2007) did not perform as well as “Tenenbaums.” Following “Darjeeling,” Anderson released his first animated feature, “Fantastic Mr. Fox” (2009), which earned him an Academy Award nomination. In 2012, “Moonrise Kingdom” premiered at the Cannes Film Festival to wide acclaim, earning the director another nomination from the Academy. The hyper-stylized adventure, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” (2014), represented one of Anderson’s biggest commercial and critical successes, taking home four Oscars at the Academy Awards that year. Anderson’s most recent work, “Isle of Dogs” (2018), marked a return to stop-motion animation.
The filmmaker’s robust oeuvre is unique for the way his work can appeal to both commercial and critical audiences. He has doggedly developed his art and craft with each film, making a mark exploring themes of precocity, ennui and young love with a cast that usually includes Bill Murray, the Wilson brothers, and Jason Schwartzman. On the occasion of his birthday, a Wes Anderson movie marathon might be in order.