Essential Films by Different Directors That Every Wes Anderson Enthusiast Must Experience


Over time, Wes Anderson has developed a visual aesthetic that’s immediately recognizable by film fanatics around the globe. Having a penchant for emphasizing aesthetics over realism, Anderson’s films paint a dreamy picture with lush visuals, ubiquitous symmetry, and a deliberate use of color palettes.

Visual sensibilities aside, Wes Anderson is a lot more than a pretty pastel director, as his films are full of substance and depth. Anderson juxtaposes beautiful visuals with sensitive topics like familial disharmony, tragedy, and self-discovery, telling a realistic story wrapped in the framework of a fantasy. While Wes Anderson’s style and panache are nearly impossible to recreate, the following films are reminiscent of his work as they use stylistic elements that have over time been pioneered by Anderson’s films.

10 Amarcord (1973)

Amarcord by Federico Fellini
Warner Bros.

Directed by one of the filmmaking greats in Federico Fellini, Wes Anderson’s love for the Italian master is evident throughout his filmography. In Amarcord, Fellini has a bunch of quirky characters garbed in bright costumes running around town, capturing the surreal essence of adolescence. While Fellini was a master at surrealism, Anderson’s films tend to be tethered to reality, aiming to present real emotions in unreal settings.

9 Harold and Maude (1971)

Harold and Maude
Paramount Pictures

A comedy and a tragedy in equal measure, Harold and Maude revolves around a young man (Bud Cort) who’s obsessed with death until he meets an older woman (Ruth Gordon) who wants to live life to the fullest. Disregarding the social norms and taboos about an age gap in romantic relationships, Harold and Maude’s dark humor and tone had a significant impact on Anderson’s narrative sensibilities.

8 Boy (2010)

Whenua Films

Before he became a household name with Jojo Rabbit, Taika Waititi made a criminally underrated film about a Michael Jackson-obsessed fanatic named Boy (James Rolleston). Set in New Zealand during the 1980s, Boy explores the melancholy of family dynamics and the road to self-discovery. Waititi’s film isn’t aligned with Anderson’s films on visual aesthetics, but shares many thematic and narrative sensibilities with the latter’s work.

7 Paddington (2014)

Paddington (1)
Heyday Films

Based on a children’s book by Michael Bond, Paul King’s Paddington is very close to Anderson’s films, sharing many similarities with Isle of Dogs and Fantastic Mr. Fox, in particular. These similarities aren’t just on an animated level, as both films run closely parallel to each other in terms of familial dynamics and light-hearted humor.

6 Somewhere (2010)

Elle Fanning and Stephen Dorph driving in Somewhere
Pathe Distributions

Directed by Sofia Coppola, Somewhere ranks high among the Anderson-style movies that fans may not have heard about. Walking on the narrative tightropes of a complicated parent-child relationship and the outcomes of unrepairable actions, Coppola’s film is similar to Anderson’s work, as it is gorgeous by design, while dealing with themes of substance and sensitivity.

5 Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

The Hoover family travels to California
Fox Searchlight Pictures

On a surface level, Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton’s Little Miss Sunshine could pass off as a Wes Anderson movie, with a similar visual landscape, an ensemble family, and an epic road trip filled to the brim with dry humor and splashes of color. Where Little Miss Sunshine differs from Wes Anderson’s work is it uses the framework of familial dynamics to bring to light the dark side of the competitive spirit and the cost it comes at.

4 Submarine (2011)

Optimum Releasing

Rich with observational humor, Submarine offers a glimpse into a rocky marriage from the POV of a child. With regard to characterization, Submarine’s Oliver Tate is quite similar to Rushmore’s Max, giving off a rebellious personality on the outside, while being heartbroken and solemn on the inside. With on OST from Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner, Submarine’s rich, reminiscent tone has a sophisticated and restrained aural feel to it, thanks to Turner’s talented musical prowess.

3 20th Century Women (2016)

Annette Bening in 20th Century Women

Director Mike Mill’s film is loosely based on his own childhood, and it tells the heartwarming story of teenage angst and troubled parents. Revolving around a shy teenager who grows up with an outgoing mother and two other mother figures, 20th Century Women throws light on the struggles of growing up and motherhood. Performances aside, Mike Mill’s film is heavily praised for its production design and catchy editing, making it quite similar to Anderson’s stylish family dramas.

2 Captain Fantastic (2016)

Captain Fantastic
Bleeker Street 

Captain Fantastic has a very offbeat premise, reminiscent of Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom, as it follows a man and his six children as they make their transition from living in a forest to life in modern-day civilization. Along with the plot, Captain Fantastic’s visual treatment and costume design is strikingly similar to Anderson’s sensibilities, making it a must-watch for all the fans of Wes Anderson’s cinema.

1 Amelié (2001)

Audrey Tautou in Amélie
UGC Fox Distribution 

Amelié, is one of the closest films that embody Anderson’s cinematic sensibilities through and through. Right from the color-filled visuals to the feeling of alienation from the modern world, Amelié is a coming-of-age story told against the backdrop of a rose-tinted town of Montmartre.

A delicious pastry of a movie, with great colors, amazing performances, and characters that would feel right at home in Wes Anderson’s universe, Amelié is one film that even Anderson couldn’t have made better himself.

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