Houston native Wes Anderson’s idiosyncratic directorial style—marked by eccentric, colorful compositions and a fastidious attention to detail—seemed completely anomalous in the U.S. independent film landscape at the outset of his career. But it’s become such an influence on other homegrown auteurs that it’s beginning to look as archetypally American as apple pie. Anderson debuted with Bottle Rocket, a thirteen-minute video shown at Sundance. On the strength of that short, producers James L. Brooks and Polly Platt brought Anderson and his cowriter and star Owen Wilson to Hollywood, where the pair embarked on the project of turning it into a feature. The result, a crisply shot comedy about dead-end criminals in Texas, announced Anderson as a major talent; his next film, Rushmore, a wildly acclaimed, widescreen coming-of-age tale that introduced actor Jason Schwartzman and gave Bill Murray a critical comeback, cemented that reputation. These films, like the ones he’s made in the years since—from the Oscar-nominated The Royal Tenenbaums to The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou to The Darjeeling Limited and the animated Fantastic Mr. Fox—are vivid, wry studies of families and other groups, infused with liberal doses of both hilarity and melancholy.
Read Anderson’s Top 10.