Every Wes Anderson Movie Ranked By Its Soundtrack

There are directors whose musical taste is so impeccable that their soundtracks become defining characters themselves. Wes AndersonThe movies have a number of trademarks, especially the electric musical choices that dive deep into dark cuts, international pop songs, and classic-themed original scores. While there are a plethora of things that make his films so special, including his talented ensemble casts and colorful visuals, Anderon’s soundtracks have helped elevate his films to greatness.

Breaking down his varied filmography, examining which of his films has the best soundtrack is a difficult task. However, we’re determined, so without further ado, here are all the Anderson movies ranked by their soundtracks.

ten isle of dogs


Isle of Dogs aired on TV
Fox projector pictures

Anderson’s second animated feature, isle of dogs, doesn’t rely too heavily on its soundtrack compared to Anderson’s other films. However, he still manages to use his musical choices effectively. The film, which revolves around a group of Japanese dogs in a dystopian future, is inspired by 1984. Its soundtrack is largely made up of instrumentals that incorporate percussive Japanese sounds, but the haunting effect they add enhances the atmosphere and mood. isle of dogs doesn’t rely on as many iconic needle drops, and the only real songs outside of the film’s Alexandre Desplat score (rightly so) are from some of Akira Kurosawa’s best films, but his use of music and visuals still packs a punch and contributes to its distinct aesthetic.


9 bottle rocket


The cast of Bottle Rocket in yellow jumpsuits
Sony Pictures release

Anderson’s feature debut, which helped establish his budding talent and gave Owen and Luke Wilson their first screen roles, is a charming and quirky flick. Compared to most of Anderson’s following features, bottle rocket is surprisingly low profile and light on the keys for which it would later become more widely recognized. In terms of musical cues, bottle rocket doesn’t have as many of Anderson’s best needle drops, though its soundtrack provides a good mix of energy to its tracks, and includes some great classic rock numbers (especially the two from Love). It’s still a pleasant, vibrant, and charming feature, but it only gave us a small glimpse into Anderson’s musical pedigree and the stylistic choices that would define his signature style.


8 The French Dispatch


The cast sits in the newsroom of The French Dispatch
Projector images

Anderson’s latest film is full of the visual marvels and whimsical accomplishments he’s become known for in recent years, and is as visually perfect as anything he’s done. In terms of musical moments, however, The French Dispatch doesn’t specifically revolve around its soundtrack, but Anderson fills the film in with some great French pop tunes to give it a culturally specific feel, plus a nice Gene Autry number, which adds to Deplat’s whimsical score and Anderson’s usual dose. energy. The French Dispatch serves as a tribute to French new wave cinema, so its musical cues are filled with nods and references to that era. There may not be as many iconic music-centric moments, but her keen eye for aesthetics allows Anderson to flex her playlist of classic vintage cuts tastefully.


7 The Darjeeling Limited


Adrien Brody, Owen Wilson and Jason Schwartzmann in The Darjeeling Limited
Fox projector pictures

One of Anderson’s most subtle and mature films, The Darjeeling Limited makes extensive use of its Middle Eastern setting in the visual and technical departments. Musically, the film has a unique soundtrack made up of Indian instruments (largely composed by Indian author, Satyajit Ray, whose films have an emotional influence here) and Anderson’s usual contemporary choices, with in particular great cuts from the Kinks and the Rolling Stones.

Related: The 10 Wes Anderson Movies, Ranked

Darjeeling Limited cleverly merges these sounds to enhance its exotic atmosphere and tone. While it may not contain the flashiest soundtrack to his films, his musical choices truly add to the mood and storytelling and provide another example of Anderson’s dynamic musical range.


6 Moonrise Kingdom


Edward Norton leads a group of other scouts in Moonrise Kingdom
Focus characteristics

Like a coming-of-age story involving two teenage lovers, Moonrise Kingdom takes stock of its soundtrack. The film contains a wide sound spectrum, from classic opera to 60s rock and roll, which helps to heighten the emotion, drama and excitement of the plot. Anderson’s song choices are particularly resonant here and help underline the exuberance and passion of the two protagonists (especially when the music is French). It also helps that Anderson’s flair for musical moments elevates the scope of Moonrise Kingdom feel really grand. For a showcase of Anderson’s ability to tailor his soundtracks to achieve moments of emotional and artistic depth, Moonrise Kingdom is a thrilling achievement.

5 The Grand Budapest Hotel


The two young people in the mail room filled with pink boxes of the Grand Budapest Hotel
Fox projector pictures

Perhaps the most Andersonism-filled film, with ornate visuals, imaginative settings, and a quirky yet sentimental tone, The Grand Budapest Hotel has quite the stature in Anderson’s catalog. Musically, too, Alexandre Desplat’s score for the film is bombastic and Oscar-winning, using the Osipov Russian Folk Orchestra and a massive 50-piece balalaika orchestra; as such, it is the only Anderson film not to feature a single pop or rock (or non-original) track. Great Budapest hotels the musical choices not only add a classic touch to its stunning visuals, but also help highlight the emotions at the heart of the story; it’s one of Anderson’s most accomplished films, and its original score helps achieve its artistry.


4 Fantastic Mr. Fox


The cast of the fantastic Mr Fox
20th century workshops

Whenever Wes Anderson enters the field of animation, it’s always a treat for viewers. Fantastic Mr. Fox, his first animated feature, is no exception and is one of Anderson’s most delightful and joyful films. Its soundtrack is a contributing factor, containing some of Anderson’s most upbeat musical choices with a playlist full of brilliant ’60s music from The Beach Boys, The Mellomen and The Rolling Stones. The energy provided by this soundtrack perfectly matches the momentum of the film, allowing viewers to feel even more connected. Fantastic Mr. Fox is a fan favorite to many, and its varied soundtrack composed in part by Desplat is an ingredient of its success.

3 aquatic life


Bill Murray as Steve Zissou with a red cap on a boat in The Life Aquatic
Buena Vista Pictures

Anderson’s infatuation with pop music and his relationship with its characters is used extensively throughout his fourth feature film. aquatic life. The film contains musical cues ranging from David Bowie to the Stooges, classic French pop music, and even contemporary artists like Sigur Ros (a rarity for Anderson). The life Aquatic is quite the rollercoaster of a movie, so naturally having a diverse soundtrack more than adequate, and the beautiful Portuguese acoustic covers of various Bowie songs from musician Seu Jorge are a delight.

Related: The Best Film Scores of the 70s

The life Aquatic has its fair share of iconic musical moments (to round out one of Bill Murray’s finest films), including a standout sequence where Murray’s Steve Zioussu sits alone while “Life On Mars” plays in the background. With such rich and imaginative visuals, the aquatic life naturally needed a soundtrack to match, and thankfully it delivers in spades on that front.

2 Rushmore


The cast of Rushmore
Buena Vista Pictures

Anderson’s second feature helped solidify him as a singular talent and establish his trademark aesthetic. Rushmore also helped introduce his penchant for highlighting important moments with popular music. RushmoreThe soundtrack of contains a mixture of old school rock and elegant pop music. Anderson’s musical selections here not only add a nostalgic vibe, but correlate with the emotional state of its protagonists. Rushmore is one of Anderson’s most romantic and heartfelt films, and its soundtrack offers the right amount of nostalgia to match it.


1 The Royal Tenenbaums


Luke Wilson and Gwyneth Paltrow in Royal Tenenbaums
Buena Vista Pictures

Anderson’s finest film achievement is arguably his third feature film, The Royal Tenenbaums. From its ensemble cast stacked with Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Luke Wilson and Ben Stiller, and its imaginative settings and tone, The Royal Tenenbaum is Anderson’s purest cinematic expression to date. Its soundtrack also contains some of the most memorable musical moments from Anderson’s filmography. From Richie and Margo’s reunion to Nico, to Richie’s suicide attempt to Elliot Smith, to Royal’s outing with Chaz’s kids to Paul Simon, the soundtrack here truly feels like its own character. The Royal Tenenbaums the soundtrack allows us to feel even more deeply connected to our protagonists and highlights the depth of Anderson’s storytelling.


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