The French Dispatch: Wes Anderson’s Previous 9 Films, Ranked

Wes Anderson has been one of Hollywood’s most distinct filmmakers for the past 25 years. His latest, The French Dispatch, was slated for a Fall 2020 release, but delayed a full year due to the coronavirus pandemic. It was released this past Friday to generally favorable reviews, being lauded as “the most Wes Anderson film Wes Anderson has ever made.”

Anderson’s unmistakable style has long been established, thanks to his already voluminous body of work. Here are his previous nine films, ranked from worst to best.

9. Isle of Dogs (2018)

Anderson’s second foray into the realm of stop-motion animation isn’t without its redeeming qualities, but it’s easily his least interesting movie. It boasts a few ironically funny lines and a great indie rock soundtrack, but that’s about all that can be said for Isle of Dogs.

For a film about a young boy’s dangerous journey to find his beloved pup, the film barely explores the bond between man and dog. Although its setting – Trash Island and a dystopian Japan – makes for a somewhat interesting political and environmental metaphor – it also makes for a visually drab viewing experience which wastes Anderson’s talents for meticulous production design and the use of light and color.

8. The Darjeeling Limited (2007)

Perhaps it’s a testament to Anderson’s talents that 2007’s The Darjeeling Limited ranks so low on the list, as it’s hardly a bad movie. Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, and Adrien Brody are all quite good as three estranged brothers who take a train ride through India to reconnect after their father’s death.

The chemistry between the three leads is quirky and charming, and much of the film is actually very funny. Where the movie runs out of steam – to torture the train metaphor – is in its underwhelming third act, when they meet their mother, played by Anderson-regular Anjelica Huston. A quirky, funny caper film like this deserves a better ending; instead, it goes out with a whimper.

7. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)

Following the success of The Royal Tenenbaums, Anderson released The Life Aquatic in 2004. It’s easily his most polarizing film, which some fans consider his masterpiece, and others rank lower in his filmography. The title character, an oceanographer played by Bill Murray, is out for revenge against against a rare sea creature that killed his old pal.

While the film can’t be denied points for originality (Brazilian musician Seu Jorge plays a one-man Greek chorus who comments on the events of the film in the form of acoustic David Bowie covers), The Life Aquatic is perhaps the only Anderson film so quirky and whimsical as to border on self-parody. It’s certainly not boring, but it’s also not quite funny or transcendent enough to fully justify its self-indulgence.

6. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

This is where this list becomes difficult, because from here on out, all of these films are deserving of high praise. The Grand Budapest Hotel is a wonderful film boasting all of Anderson’s signature elements – great cinematography, elaborate sets, quirky humor, and bittersweet melancholy.

What The Grand Budapest Hotel has that, until this point in Anderson’s career, none of his other films did, is the presence of actual evil and malice. The plot revolves around the adventures of Gustave H., concierge at the title establishment, beginning when he’s wrongfully suspected of foul play after the death of one of the hotel’s most esteemed guests. What follows is a classic Anderson-style romp, tinged with the usual dose of humor and whimsy, but also sinister violence and danger.

5. Rushmore (1998)

Because J.D. Salinger never released the movie rights to his classic novel, perhaps the closest we’ll get to seeing such an adaptation is Anderson’s sophomore feature, 1998’s Rushmore. It’s a great coming-of-age story about a rebellious prep school teen who falls for his teacher, and competes for her love against an older and wealthier suitor.

While not sporting the same visual pizzazz that Anderson became known for upon the release of his next film (to be discussed later), Rushmore is a delight from beginning to end. The final shot of the film, a high school dance which fades to black over Faces’ “Ooh La La,” is one of the greatest musical moments of Anderson’s entire ouvre.

4. Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

2012’s Moonrise Kingdom is perhaps Anderson’s most underrated film, as it’s rarely thought of as one of his best. And while it’s certainly not his masterpiece, it is easily his most personal film, and one of his most poignant. Fans will see much of Anderson himself in the main character, a young boy who flees his pastoral hometown with the girl he loves.

As the townspeople frantically scramble to track them down, the purity of young love and the dysfunction that all too often comes with adulthood come into stark contrast. Anderson’s protagonists are romantic anarchists rebelling against their elders in thoroughly endearing fashion. For those who may have overlooked it, Moonrise Kingdom is worth a second glance.

3. Fantastic Mr. Fox (2007)

Fantastic Mr. Fox is a triumph in more ways than one. After establishing himself as an auteur of subtle, mature R-rated comedies, Wes Anderson chose to adapt the classic Roald Dahl children’s novel in 2007. At first this seemed like a radical change for Anderson, but what’s most surprising about the end result is how similar it is to all of his other films.

Despite the different subject matter and animated visuals, Fantastic Mr. Fox fits perfectly into Anderson’s filmography, as it contains all of his signature stylistic flairs. It’s one of his funniest and most charming movies that adults will enjoy just as much as any other entry in Anderson’s catalogue.

2. Bottle Rocket (1996)

Martin Scorsese considers Anderson’s debut feature one of the best films of the 1990’s. He isn’t wrong. Bottle Rocket is a fantastically original comedy caper about two friends who embark on a crime spree despite being innocent souls with no earthly idea of what life on the lam entails.

Luke and Owen Wilson are terrific in their respective roles, and though the asthetic of the film is simpler and sparser than what would come to be Anderson’s signature intricate visual style, there are signs of an auteur in the making all over Bottle Rocket. Funny and full of heart, it’s a mini-masterpiece of an indie film that only improves upon repeat viewings.

1. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

In a sense, Anderson has been remaking The Royal Tenenbaums his entire career: on a boat (The Life Aquatic), on a train (The Darjeeling Limited), at a hotel (The Grand Budapest Hotel), and elsewhere. Nonetheless, his third film is a bona fide masterpiece of melancholy and comedy.

Casting Gene Hackman against type as a mischievous, oafish, yet lovable patriarch is just one of the many risks that pay off beautifully in the film. Themes of addiction, depression, loss, suicide, and illness abound in a family drama that’s also miraculously hilarious from beginning to end. Perfectly bittersweet and incredibly funny, The Royal Tenenbaums is undoubtedly Anderson’s masterwork, and one of the best films of the 21st century.

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Every Halloween II (and 5 Other Direct Slasher Sequels), Ranked

Ah, the slasher genre. Perhaps one of the most ingenious movie formulas ever perfected. Slashers are a great film genre because they’re usually very cheaply made and followed by ardent fans who’ll watch them no matter the cast or budget, in hopes, it will give them a good scare. And because they’re so cheap and popular, they’re produced to be never-ending, with multiple sequels churned out as long as they make money. 

I don’t think there’s ever been a producer who felt “Michael Myers’ arc is done.” Nope, as long as these films are popular, there will always be more of them. With the release of the sequel Halloween Kills, it’s time to look back at all the films known as Halloween II as well as some other slasher movies that got another “stab” at the big screen.

8. Halloween II ( 2009)

Rob Zombie’s Halloween II is the second direct sequel to a movie called Halloween and it actually wouldn’t be the last. Zombie’s Halloween remake was a combination prequel and remake that explored more of the Myers/Strode sibling lore and was pretty well received by audiences for his unique take and visual style.

Zombie was brought back for a sequel that continued his style of constant X-rated violence and language throughout (not a frame of this film isn’t unadulterated). This time, Michael returns (with long hair), and he and Laurie experience visions of their mother and a “white horse.” This truly bizarre sequel did not fare as well as the first and a planned third entry was scrapped.

7. Friday The 13th Part 2

Serial killer Jason Voorhees is synonymous with the Friday The 13th series.However, people often forget that he wasn’t the actual killer in the original film — it was his mother. Jason didn’t follow in his mother’s footsteps until the sequel, and he’s been the star of the franchise ever since.

This sequel is a straight-up retread of the first film with Jason terrorizing camp counselors at Crystal Lake, only this time, in place of his mother. However, the character of Jason was still evolving as his first outing as the main killer featured him with a burlap sack around his head instead of his iconic hockey mask, which wouldn’t come into play until the next entry in the franchise, Friday The 13th Part III.

6. I Still Know What You Did Last Summer

Bolstered by Scream’s slasher movie revival success, I Know What You Did Last Summer took a teen novel by Lois Lowery and turned it into box office gold. The film concerns four friends whose past comes back to haunt them when a killer fisherman stalks them a year after they were all involved in a hit and run. The film was a hit among fans of the genre so naturally, a sequel was put into production with returning star, Jennifer Love Hewitt as Julie.

The first film ended with the killer, Ben Willis, attacking Julie in the shower, which we come to find out was only a dream. After winning a radio contest (with the wrong answer) Julie and her friends are given a vacation on a conveniently empty tropical island in the middle of a storm. However, Ben Willis still knows what she did last summer (err, two summers ago) and follows her to the island to finish her off.

It’s a pretty boilerplate sequel that uses the same beats but this time with a tropical locale. The dialogue isn’t a sharp as the Kevin Williamson-scripted original (the trailer lists Syriana’s Stephen Gaghan as a writer yet his credit is missing from the film) and seems to have been only made for the gratuitous shots of Hewitt in a bikini. Like the first film, this entry also ends on a cliffhanger that is never resolved in further films. Not even in the direct-to-video third entry, which has a new cast and storyline.

5. Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge

After the success of A Nightmare On Elm Street, a sequel was quickly commissioned, however, horror master Wes Craven decided to move on and direct the disastrous Deadly Friend instead. Producers proceeded without his involvement and the film centers around a new family who moves into the house previously inhabited by Nancy Thompson and, of course, Freddy returns.

Most critics felt the sequel paled in comparison to the original, however, in recent years it has been reassessed as a great subtextually gay horror movie — made during a time when homophobia was running rampant. However, that’s the most people talk about when it comes to this movie. Wes Craven would return to co-write the next Nightmare film subtitled The Dream Warriors, which is considered to be the best sequel in the franchise.

4. Halloween II (1981)

The original Halloween was a surprise hit and contained an open-ended finale with Michael Myers nowhere to be found after being shot 6 times by Dr. Loomis. Fans clamored for a sequel and they got it in the form of Halloween II, but without director John Carpenter at the helm.

The sequel takes place a mere hours later with action focused on Myers stalking Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode in a hospital with Dr. Loomis in hot pursuit. While not directing, Carpenter still wrote the film and admittedly ran out of ideas when he inserted the idea that Myers was Laurie’s brother — a decision he would later regret. Despite the movie ending conclusively with Myers burning up, he would return a few years later in Halloween 4 after the attempt to turn the franchise into an anthology with Halloween III failed. 

3. Psycho II

Many consider Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film Psycho to be the pre-cursor to the modern-day slasher film, with the genre coming into its own the following decade with Black Christmas and Halloween and then having its heyday in the 1980’s. So, what better film to revive during the slasher movie craze than the one that supposedly started it all – Psycho.

In the film, Norman Bates is released from prison after 30 years and returns to his former home and business. However, murders start happening and all fingers point to Norman as the culprit. The film is more nuanced than audiences might think as Norman isn’t really the killer, yet everyone in town wants/expects him to be. By making him not the killer, Psycho II subverts expectations and makes for a surprisingly worthy sequel to the original.

Interestingly, director Quentin Tarantino actually considers this film to be better than the original. Following the success of Psycho II, the series started to hew closer to the slasher films being produced around that time with Psycho III and the surprisingly good prequel Psycho IV: The Beginning.

2. Scream 2

Following the massive success of Scream, which revived the slasher genre and gave it a 90’s twist, a sequel was quickly put into development. The film saw the return of the main cast and director Wes Craven. Continuing on the meta-narrative of the first film, Scream 2 has new killers attempting to make a real-life sequel to the first film’s events.

While Scream 2 may not be as innovative as the first film, everything about it is high quality, making slasher movie sequels from the 80’s pale in comparison. The acting is great, the dialogue is sharp and the scares are terrific as well. Scream 2 is the rare high-quality slasher sequel that doesn’t feel like a cash grab.

One of the best scenes in the entire franchise is when the Ghostface killer commandeers a cop car which he then proceeds to crash and Sydney and her friend must climb over the unconscious killer’s body to get out of the car. Scream 2 ultimately led to Scream 3 which is also not a bad movie at all, in fact, the Scream franchise is the rare slasher movie series where all the films have been very high quality for a typically low-quality and thrown together genre.

1. Halloween (2018)

The Halloween series has an interesting timeline. After the original Halloween, the franchise has four different sequel timelines. There’s Halloween II, then 4, 5, 6 – the latter three sequels focusing on Laurie’s daughter Jamie Lloyd and the rune cult (Halloween III is a completely separate film). Then there are the sequels that skip this part of the franchise and go Halloween II, the underrated H20, and Resurrection (with Busta “trick or treat motherf-cker” Rhymes). Then there is the separate Rob Zombie Halloween I & II remake series. And, finally, there is the recent franchise that skips the original Halloween II and jumps from John Carpenter’s 1978 original to 2018’s Halloween, which is also called Halloween. The Halloween franchise can literally be used as a “choose your own adventure” movie series, and each part of this huge franchise has its own devoted fans.

The idea behind skipping the original Halloween II is to negate the fact that Michael Myers is Laurie Strode’s brother – something never hinted at in the original and regretfully injected into H2 by Carpenter. This idea has been such a huge part of the franchise that having a Jamie Lee Curtis-starring Halloween movie without them as siblings feels a bit strange. However, Halloween 2018 is in a class of its own and is easily the best sequel in the franchise, and probably the best sequel to any slasher film ever.

The film picks up 40 years after the original. Michael escapes and goes after Laurie Strode who has become somewhat of a survivalist after the trauma inflicted on her from the first film. Taking a different route, Halloween 2018 is about rising above trauma and abuse, and stands above all other generic slasher sequels. This is the true Halloween II. It’s scary, funny, and contains true value and meaning. This new version of the sequel timeline is followed by Halloween Kills and next year’s Halloween Ends. So, those are the real Halloween 3 and 4, right?

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No Time To Die: Ranking Daniel Craig’s Previous Bond Films

With No Time To Die being the swan song of Daniel Craig as James Bond, a role that, believe it or not, he’s played for fifteen years in five films (Roger Moore was Bond for twelve years but did seven films), it’s time to look back his offerings as the iconic secret agent. The four previous films in which he plays the super spy have often been considered a mixed bag, but if what critics are saying about No Time To Die is true, Craig could be going out on top.

Craig was brought in to reinvigorate the franchise after well-meaning Pierce Brosnan’s era came down crashing and burning with the campy and over the top dud, Die Another Day. Inspired by the precedent set by Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, Daniel Craig’s Bond would take place at the beginning of his career and introduce a darker, edgier Bond without all the quips audiences were used to. The plan worked and audiences believed Craig’s hard edged Bond was the best since Connery, and closer to what author Ian Fleming originally envisioned. However, after Casino Royale, the subsequent films would prove to be controversial, with some being considered some of the best Bond films ever and some being the worst. Here are the four Daniel Craig James Bond adventures, ranked.

4. Spectre

Similar to the way Quantum Of Solace tried to capitalize on Casino Royale‘s success, Spectre tried to use Skyfall’s formula. Ultimately, however, the end result was disappointing. Initially, Spectre looked destined to be a great movie; it retained Skyfall’s director Sam Mendes, and after a long legal battle, the producers were able to use the character of Ernst Stavros Blofeld and the classic evil organization, ‘Spectre’. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out so well.

Spectre being part of the story seems forced as, back when they didn’t have the rights,  Quantum had already been introduced as the secret organization. So, there are two secret organizations?

Christoph Waltz seemed like the perfect actor to play the iconic Blofeld however, by this time, he had played so many villain roles, his performance didn’t make an impression on viewers. Audiences also felt Bond lacked any chemistry with the love interest Madelyn Swann even though the movie sets her up to be his great love, and their scenes pale in comparison to his scenes with Eva Green’s Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale. Even Pierce Brosnan commented that the story was weak.

Producers tried to add a little more of Bond’s trademarks like humor but balancing the tone with the overall seriousness didn’t work this time. Some might say Quantum Of Solace is a worse movie, but Spectre is the Daniel Craig Bond adventure that tried the hardest and failed the hardest. Originally, Spectre was to be Craig’s swan song, however, he was coaxed back into being Bond one more time for No Time To Die which, as reports suggest, will be a satisfying conclusion to his tenure.

3. Quantum Of Solace

Everyone wanted another Daniel Craig Bond adventure following Casino Royale’s critical and commercial success. However, Quantum Of Solace had a troubled production as a writer’s strike caused the film to begin shooting without a script, forcing Craig and director Marc Forster to write scenes on the spot.

The result is the closest Bond has ever had at having a direct sequel. The film takes place moments after Casino Royale, however as an addendum to the previous film, it lacks a much needed punch and feels more like an afterthought than a well-crafted story. At the time, the Jason Bourne movies were popular and the film has much more of a Bourne, handheld aesthetic. Solace is also one of the shorter Bond films. While it moves like a bullet, the story itself is weak and ultimately forgettable.

2. Skyfall

After a disappointing follow up, James Bond rebounded with Skyfall, directed by American Beauty’s Sam Mendes. With Skyfall, Bond producers infused the serious tone set by Casino Royale but, this time, with some of the trademarks fans of the franchise loved and missed like Q. Boasting amazing cinematography by master Roger Deakins, Skyfall is also perhaps the best-looking Bond film ever made.

Skyfall makes up for Solace’s shortcomings by having a great premise, a scary villain, and even a brilliant theme song performed by Adele. The film fires on all cylinders, and with its mix of the old ways and the new ways, it makes for an extremely satisfying Bond adventure.

1. Casino Royale

Casino Royale marked Daniel Craig’s debut as 007. With its brutal, B&W prologue, he and the film quickly distance themselves from the franchsie’s previous, sillier entries.

Based on the book by Ian Fleming, Casino Royale takes a very different route than previous entries. Gone are the gadgets and the cheeky quips. Instead, Bond is tough and violent but still has an emotional side, and unlike most (if not all) the other Bond movies, he has an actual character arc. While some of Bond’s trademark aspects made the earlier film’s funner, Casino Royale is the rare James Bond film that plays it serious and tries to get under the skin of who he is.

While not what some fans of the franchise wanted, Casino Royale is probably the breathe of fresh air the franchise needed. Here’s hoping that whoever takes on Bond next has as good a first outing as this.