40 Films for Wes Anderson Fans
If you’ve rewatched the entire Wes Anderson Criterion Collection a few too many times, here are forty other films you’re sure to love.
Known for his distinctive style and extreme attention to detail, writer/director Wes Anderson has been creating quirky, colorful films since the early nineties. His multiple features, commercials, and shorts have earned him not only a place as a major influencer of the independent film landscape, but also a committed fan base.
From classic cinematic favorites of Anderson himself to movies with similarly colorful, detailed production design, these films will not disappoint.
Note: Nope, there’s no rhyme or reason to the order of this list.
If Wes Anderson was British and obsessed with The Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner, the result would be Submarine. With plenty of self-aware narration, stylized symmetrical shots, and a love interest with blunt bangs, this film is sure to satisfy any fan of Wes Anderson movies.
Pierrot Le Fou (1965)
Wes Anderson would not exist without the cinematic influence of French New Wave, a revolutionary movement that included filmmakers like Jean Luc Godard and François Truffaut. Pierrot Le Fou is just one example of countless New Wave films that contributed to Anderson’s filmmaking style. Plus the whole Moonrise Kingdom dancing-on-the-beach moment echoes a lot of scenes from this film.
Day for Night (or La Nuit Americaine) (1973)
French New Wave director François Truffaut’s Day for Night is a colorful homage to cinema itself. Clearly it was also the main inspiration for Anderson’s American Express Ad….
Girl Asleep (2015)
If you’re a fan of Australian accents and surreal dream sequences (but hate the lack of female protagonists in Wes Anderson films…), Girl Asleep is the perfect pick for you. Get ready for plenty of odd characters, French crooners, and 70s wallpaper.
Eagle vs Shark (2007)
Written and directed by Taika Waititi, Eagle vs Shark is a quirky, romantic comedy featuring two socially-awkward humans. It includes conversations in a pop-up tent (Royal Tenenbaums vibes?) and a high-school bully revenge plot requiring kung-fu preparation.
The Squid and the Whale (2005)
This film is *literally* approved by Wes Anderson. Seriously, like, he produced this movie. Nothing else needs to be said.
The Brothers Bloom (2008)
Adrien Brody? Check. Colorful production design? Check. A character with an obscene amount of obscure hobbies? Check. This action, adventure comedy definitely checks all the Wes Anderson fan boxes.
Dear White People (2014)
This film, written and directed by Justin Simien, follows the lives of four black students at an Ivy League college. It has many of the stylistic elements common in Wes Anderson films, and more, like black protagonists and important, insightful social-political commentary around racism. The use of on-screen text, a narrator, and fantastic production design will be appreciated by any Wes Anderson fan.
Igby Goes Down (2002)
A rebellious, sardonic teenager sets out to find a better life away from his wealthy, self-absorbed mother, schizophrenic father, and young-Republican big brother. Sarcastic dialogue, a rock and roll soundtrack, and prep-schooler rebellion gives this movie major Rushmore vibes.
But I’m a Cheerleader (1999)
This cult-classic romcom follows a naive, high school cheerleader, Megan, whose conservative parents send her to a “sexual redirection” camp when they suspect she’s a lesbian. But I’m a Cheerleader is an absurdly funny satire with a star-studded cast that includes RuPaul, Michelle Williams, Bud Cort, and leading-lady Natasha Lyonne. The over-the-top, colorful production design creates an absurd, saturated world where Megan begins to understand her sexuality.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010)
In this action-packed comedy, Scott Pilgrim must defeat his new girlfriend’s seven evil exes (including Jason Schwartzman) in order to win her heart. This highly-stylized film takes inspiration from the world of video games and has enough quirky characters, hilarious dialogue, and colorful production design to win over any Wes Anderson fan’s heart.
Big Fish (2003)
Wes Anderson isn’t the only director with the ability to create elaborate, colorful universes for his films. Almost any Tim Burton title could have made this list, but Big Fish stands out for its exceptional use of narration, camera work, and visual extravagance to service the endearing, personal story of its protagonist.
Raising Arizona (1987)
This colorful Coen Brothers farce follows an infertile couple that steals a quintuplet to start a family. Their robbery quickly turns into a fast-paced, mayhem-filled run from a bounty hunter.
This whimsical film follows the kind-hearted Amélie as she helps others around her and, unexpectedly, discovers love. The colorful production design and enchanting, piano-accordion score by Yann Tiersen alone makes Amélie a film worth watching again and again.
The Diary of a Teenage Girl (2015)
The Diary of a Teenage Girl is a coming-of-age story that follows a teenager in 1970s San Francisco as she enters into an affair with her mother’s boyfriend. This beautiful film is supplemented with whimsical animations and heartfelt narration from the main character, as she goes on a journey of sexual awakening. Considering the subject matter, the film gets slightly darker and more emotional than Wes Anderson films typically do, but The Diary of a Teenage Girl has its fair share of quirky, dysfunctional family moments, slow motion shots, and on-point patterned wallpaper.
Sorry to Bother You (2018)
This highly stylized, absurdist dark comedy is the directorial debut of writer/director Boots Riley. In it, a very broke Cassius “Cash” Green finds sudden success when a coworker at his new telemarketing job teaches him to use his “white voice” on phonecalls. But what starts out as a well-paying job quickly turns into a dark corporate conspiracy that gets prettttyyyy crazy. Sorry to Bother You combines a stellar cast, incredible production design, and a killer soundtrack into an entertaining film that makes you think about capitalism, systemic racism, and corporate greed.
The Science of Sleep (2006)
Written and directed by Michel Gondry, this surreal film follows a shy man with a vivid imagination that often interferes with his ability to interact with reality. Gondry’s use of stop motion animation and elaborate dream-like set design makes The Science of Sleep a truly magical watch.
Written and directed by Mike Mills, Beginners is a heartfelt, romantic dramedy told through a series of interconnected flashbacks. The film follows Oliver as he reflects on the recent death and life of his father, all while forging a romantic connection with a French girl, Anna. Wes Anderson fans will appreciate the film’s use of voiceover, as well as on screen photos and drawings, a costume party meet-cute, and even subtitles for a dog’s internal dialogue.
My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro is a whimsical, cinematic journey of two girls who befriend the magical creatures living in the forest near their home. Wes Anderson has cited this classic, animated film as one of the inspirations for his feature Isle of Dogs.
Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
This gem of a movie is equally hilarious and heartwarming. An incredible ensemble cast (including Steve Carrell, Toni Collette, Paul Dano, and others), beautiful soundtrack, and well-crafted script makes for a dysfunctional family road trip movie you won’t forget.
Wristcutters: A Love Story (2006)
Set in a strange afterlife way station for people who have committed suicide, Wristcutters: A Love Story is a darkly comedic trip filled with romance and odd characters.
Ruby Sparks (2012)
An author’s manic-pixie-dream-girl comes to life and has some real consequences once freed from the page… This romantic comedy starring Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan is as quirky and fun as the logline suggests.
Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday (1953)
Another Wes-Anderson approved flick, Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday is a French, physical-comedy classic (and the inspiration for Anderson’s SoftBank commercial starring Brad Pitt). M. Hulot (played by director Jacques Tati) heads to the beach for a vacation only to accidentally cause a LOT of hilarious havoc.
From writer/director Spike Jonze, Her is a romantic sci-fi film about a sensitive, heartbroken man (played by Joaquin Phoenix) who falls in love with a new operating system voiced by none other than Scarlett Johansson.
Lady Bird (2017)
Writer/director Greta Gerwig’s Oscar-winning debut, Lady Bird is a coming-of-age story set in Sacramento, California. It effortlessly captures the beauty and complexity of female friendship, mother-daughter relationships, high school crushes, and the rollercoaster of senior year.
Harold and Maude (1971)
A favorite of Wes Anderson himself, this classic dark comedy follows the life-changing relationship of Harold, a death-obsessed boy who constantly stages fake suicides, and the fun-loving older woman he meets at a stranger’s funeral. A rich soundtrack of Cat Stevens songs, a comedically dysfunctional family, and unexpected romance makes Harold and Maude an excellent choice for any Wes Anderson fan.
Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
This absurdist comedy is 96 minutes of quirky, socially-awkward characters and dysfunctional family moments set against patterned wallpaper and floral couches. Vote for Pedro.
The Addams Family (1991)
This classic, nineties dark comedy based on The Addams Family cartoons features Anjelica Huston (a Wes Anderson fave), absurdist, deadpan humor, and killer production design.
Le Roman de Renard (1937)
Before Fantastic Mr. Fox there was Le Roman de Renard (aka The Story of the Fox), a 1937, French stop-motion animation film about a mischievous fox named Renard. The stylistic parallels are pretty clear.
Pirate Radio (or, The Boat that Rocked) (2009)
A group of misfit DJs in the 1960s set sail and launch a pirate radio station after the government bans rock and roll music. As expected, this colorful, period comedy has a fantastic, rock and roll soundtrack including hits from The Kinks, David Bowie, Cat Stevens, and The Who.
Charlie Bartlett (2007)
Fans of Rushmore will appreciate this romantic dramedy starring Anton Yelchin. Rich kid Charlie Bartlett becomes the self-appointed psychiatrist to students at his new public school. But a love interest in the school’s principal, new campus security cameras, and a student’s overdose threaten his ethically-questionable business.
Lost in Translation (2003)
Wes Anderson doesn’t have a monopoly on Bill Murray. Writer/director Sofia Coppola is another filmmaker with not only a distinctive, stylistic oeuvre but also a tendency to cast Bill Murray. Lost in Translation is a beautiful film about love and loneliness set against the backdrop of Tokyo.
Broken Flowers (2005)
Another Bill Murray gem, Jim Jarmusch’s Broken Flowers follows a down-and-out man who embarks on a road trip to visit all his old flames after receiving an anonymous letter with news that he has a son.
Who Are You, Polly Maggoo? (1966)
This satirical, sixties, arthouse film spoofs the excess of the fashion world and cult of celebrity. It also has several moments that miiiight have inspired some shots in The French Dispatch.
In The Mood For Love (2000)
This period drama, set in 1962 British Hong Kong, follows a man and a woman who slowly develop feelings for each other after their spouses have an affair. Wong Kar-wai’s expert use of color and beautiful, slow-motion shots make In The Mood For Love a memorable, poetic watch.
Me And Earl And The Dying Girl (2015)
It’s clear this movie was made by a film nerd (in a good way!). High schoolers Greg and Earl, who spend their time making parodies of classic movies, befriend a classmate who’s been diagnosed with cancer, changing their outlooks on life forever. Greg’s voiceover, plenty of stylistic camerawork, and awkward, nerdy high school moments make this heartwarming film a great pick for Wes Anderson fans.
We Are The Best! (2013)
This Swedish film follows three girls in 1980s Stockholm as they form a punk band (despite any instruments or real musical talent). In an inspiring act of rebellion, the trio sets out to prove everyone wrong: Punk’s not dead.
Lars and the Real Girl (2007)
Ryan Gosling plays a delusional young man that enters into a relationship with a life-size doll he orders on the Internet. It’s as absurd and quirky as the plot suggests.
500 Days of Summer (2009)
This offbeat romantic dramedy broke the hearts of pretty much anyone crushing on a manic-pixie-dream-girl with bangs circa 2009. This indie film has plenty of voiceover, colorful fantasy-sequences, and on-screen justification for the eventual musical collaboration between Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (aka “She and Him”).
A young Ellen Page and Michael Cera star in this offbeat, indie-darling of a film. 16-year-old Juno discovers she’s pregnant with her best friend Bleeker and decides to put the child up for adoption via the PennySaver personals. Juno is a coming-of-age film ripe with snarky dialogue (thanks Diablo Cody!), a great soundtrack, and major “quirky, indie” vibes.