The great “Grand Budapest Hotel,” and the films of Wes Anderson

GHB_6852 20130121.CR2

I know it seemed like an endless wait, but Wes Anderson’s latest film, Grand Budapest Hotel, finally opens in Buffalo tomorrow, and the wait was worth it. I think this is one of the director’s best films, perhaps his LARGEST scale project to date: size, scope, vision. The performances, especially from Ralph Fiennes, are impeccable. And this is his freshest collection of characters in many years.

In fact, I believe Budapest is his best film since The Royal Tenenbaums. And that thought got me pondering all of his films, and how I would rank them. So without further ado, my ranking of the films of Wes Anderson.

1. Bottle Rocket

I am in the minority with this one, I know, but I believe Anderson’s debut film is hit most original, his most emotional, and his most gloriously fresh. There is a youthful spirit on display that is rarely captured onscreen — it FEELS young and naive, in the best sense. And I maintain Owen Wilson gave his finest performance to date as Dignan.

2. Rushmore

Anderson’s second film features his greatest character. No, not Max Fischer. Bill Murray’s Herman Blume. It also features his best soundtrack, his best opening, and his best ending. A perfect film, one that contains my favorite Anderson montage: the “Oh Yoko” sequence.

3. The Royal Tenenbaums

“I know you, asshole!” I could drop about 100 other classic lines, or refer to songs like “These Days” and “Need in the Hay.” But I’d rather just watch, and drink it all in again.

4. The Grand Budapest Hotel

People will love this film. In fact, they already do. I predict it will land a Best Picture nomination.

5. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

I will never forget seeing the trailer for Zissou, and being utterly gob-smacked, to the degree that a friend and I considered traveling to see the film before it opened in Buffalo. I still think it’s one of finest trailers ever made — all Murray magnificence, set to Bowie’s “Queen Bitch.” The film itself was more sour than I’d expected, and a bit too stylized, but still a success, to be sure.

6. The Darjeeling Limited

The forgotten Anderson film? Maybe. Great moments, great acting, yet it never quite gels. This is all relative; he has never made a bad film.

7. Moonrise Kingdom      

Overrated? Yes. Very good? Certainly.

8. Fantastic Mr. Fox        

Anderson’s weakest film, to be sure, but guess what? It’s still quite good. Of course. Criterion recently released Mr. Fox on Blu-ray, and it was a deserving reissue.

And now, to close things off, “Ooh La La.”