Few filmmakers working today have an aesthetic as instantly recognizable as Wes Anderson’s. His filmography has taken viewers from Texas roadside motels to lavish European resorts and the occasional detour to animated worlds where dogs and foxes can talk. But no matter where Anderson sets a film, you can always tell you’re watching one of his films by the attention to detail, twee color palettes, and impeccable interior design – an effect so inviting it’s been imitated by countless professional impersonators. and emulated by fans in a surprisingly sweet TikTok trend.
Anderson’s independent film superstardom has prompted critics and audiences to learn about his influences for years. And while Anderson isn’t as vocal about his cinephilia as some of his fellow writers, he’s been known to occasionally come up with his favorite movies when asked—and he tends to surprise when he does.
Interestingly, Anderson’s list of films that shaped him isn’t filled with the kind of wacky movies you might expect him to enjoy. In some cases (Quentin Tarantino), it’s easy to connect the dots and decode a director’s aesthetic based on the movies he loves. But Anderson’s interests are extremely comprehensive, to the point where it almost seems as though his visual panache and taste for film are entirely separate developments. That doesn’t change the fact that Anderson provides great advice, of course.
From classic films by legendary directors to relatively obscure recent works, Anderson’s favorite films are clearly the picks of someone who takes cinema seriously. Fans got a deeper look at Anderson’s taste last year when he submitted a ballot for Sight & Sound’s Greatest Movies of All Time poll. Rather than choosing her 10 favorite films, she decided to focus on films made in France. She accompanied his choices with the kind of adorable note that his characters wrote on vintage stationery on countless occasions.
“Like most of us (I think?), I don’t actually have ten favorite movies,” wrote Anderson. “I thought I’d pick ten favorite French people (because I’m listing this list in France).”
Rather than representing Anderson’s definitive ranking of the best films in history, this living list keeps track of the films he singled out as notable for one reason or another. In preparation for the upcoming release of ‘Asteroid City’ – and the anticipated Netflix release of ‘The Wonderful World of Henry Sugar’ – check out the author’s 38 cinematic favorites. The selections are listed in chronological order.
With editorial contributions from William Earl and Zack Sharf.