Wes Anderson's filmmaking style is so recognizable and iconic, it only takes a few seconds for even casual movie watchers to identify his work—his movies typically feature themes of regret and loss, nostalgia, arch humor, pastel colors and hipster soundtracks. As The Grand Budapest Hotel comes to theaters, starring Ralph Fiennes as a European hotel concierge framed for murder, familiarize yourself with his indie awesomeness with these 10 defining moments.
Guns, Guns, Guns! - Bottle Rocket
Anderson did not develop his unique style overnight. His feature debut, Bottle Rocket, does not overtly feature many of his trademark visual quirks but the seeds are there if you look closely. Not only does this scene begin with a comic montage, but we also see a bit of Anderson's fondness for childlike organization in Owen Wilson's carefully drawn maps and schematics.
Max Fischer's Extracurricular Activities - Rushmore
Here is where things really start to develop. The clip begins with the opening of a old book, followed by a montage of activities, each labeled with clear on-screen text, all to the sounds of the Creation's U.K. rock song "Making' Time." Things are not quite as cartoony as they would eventually become, but you can instantly tell you're watching a Wes Anderson film.
The Final Shot - Rushmore
Rushmore's final images, accompanied by the Faces' "Ooh La La," is both wistful and bittersweet thanks largely to the sudden shift to slow motion, a technique Wes Anderson frequently uses in his films' final moments. But it's not all bad. Everyone's pretty happy.
Royal Goes Out with the Boys - The Royal Tenenbaums
The Royal Tenenbaums is where Wes Anderson really transitioned into his storybook style. You can see it in the film's every detail, from Royal's swimming outfit to the overstuffed but highly organized convenience store he and the boys rob. But more than anything, the montage is fun, alive, and communicates a great amount of storytelling in a small amount of time.
Margot Disembarks the Bus - The Royal Tenenbaums
It's hard to imagine a more perfect Wes Anderson moment than Margot Tenenbaum's slow-motion walk toward her brother Richie set to the drowsy sounds of Nico's "These Days." In a film full of scenes that have clearly been orchestrated for maximum stylistic effect, this is definitely one of the most memorable and iconic.
Steve Zissou Gives Us a Tour of the Belafonte - The Life Aquatic
A mini movie in and of itself, Steve Zissou's explanation for each room of his ship gives the film's primary setting more personality, geography and history than we ever could have asked for. The obvious theatricality and discarded fourth wall is pure Wes Anderson, as is Bill Murray's humorous, deadpan delivery. Plus, those dolphins!
The Steve Zissou Dance - The Life Aquatic
Not that The Life Aquatic doesn't have emotional moments, but it's definitely one of Wes Anderson's funniest films. No bit signifies that more than the little dance Zissou does while showing off his ability to hear music in his diving helmet. Only Bill Murray could make it look awesome and pathetic at the same time.
The Wolf - The Fantastic Mr. Fox
Wes Anderson's films are pretty much live-action cartoons already, so it should come as no surprise that his foray into animation was just as meticulously crafted and magical as his other efforts. Of all The Fantastic Mr. Fox's charms, the film's single best moment comes thanks to a symbol of instinctual solidarity between Mr. Fox's crew and the mysterious black wolf. It's a scene so beautiful it gets the same effect with or without context.
What Kind of Bird Are You? - Moonrise Kingdom
From beginning to end, it doesn't get more Wes Anderson than this. You have a close-up on handmade signage, a high-production but low-consequence stage play, goofy costumes, and aggressive flirting. It's the most adorable thing ever.
Deputizing the Little Guy - Moonrise Kingdom
Moonrise Kingdom might be Wes Anderson's most kid-centric film to date, but it is also a great showcase for a myriad of adult actors, many of whom make their Wes Anderson debuts in the film. It's particularly fun seeing the increasingly dour Bruce Willis dressed up in a highly stylized wardrobe giving curt, precise instructions to a group of ragtag Boy Scouts, as we see in this wonderful scene.
How willThe Grand Budapest Hotel measure up? The movie comes out in limited release this weekend. Meantime, here's the trailer: