To say that director Wes Anderson has a certain style is the same thing as saying water has a certain kind of wetness. I can't think of a single director in Hollywood that has a style more obvious and consistent as him. Even when he made The Fantastic Mr. Fox, an animated film, it still screamed "Wes Anderson made this." If you're unfamiliar with his work, some of his resume consists of The Royal Tenebaums, Rushmore, and Moonrise Kingdom, to name a few. His precious, artsy, even pretentious brand of filmmaking isn't for everyone but for those of us it is for, it's a marvel to see.
The one thing I love, being an Anderson fan, is how his films have grown since Bottlerocket in 1996. They have only gotten bigger in scope, story, budget and cast. That hasn't always worked out for him since The Life Aquatic and The Darjeeling Limited were under par for what I expected. However, he has never had a bigger budget and cast than The Grand Budapest Hotel and he has never been more impressive. As excellent as Moonrise Kingdom was, this is better; the structure of the story is more unique and quaint. It's not as funny but I'm not sure it sets out to be so. The story is more of an adventure as a fancy concierge must clear his name in a murder plot. If you think that sounds serious, I assure, it's not.
The cast is extremely impressive and it's lead by Ralph Fiennes (Schindler's List, the Harry Potter series) in an Oscar-worthy performance. He's followed by Edward Norton, Bill Murray, F. Murray Abraham (Amadeus, Scarface), Jude Law, Harvey Keitel (Pulp Fiction, National Treasure 2), Willem Dafoe (Spider-man, Finding Nemo), Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park, Independence Day), Saoirse Ronan (Hanna, The Lovely Bones) and this is just to name a FEW! Also, since Anderson is fond of casting unknown young actors as his leads, 18-year-old Tony Revolori is excellent as the lobby boy, Zero, who holds his own in almost every scene Fiennes is in like a pro who's been doing it for decades.
I think one thing I love the most about Wes Anderson is that we don't have Stanley Kubrik anymore. Let me explain. We all know that Kubrik was one of the best directors of all time and sadly he died. His style was one of symmetry in every shot, complex visuals in which every square inch of the frame is filled with everything or nothing, colors that have purpose and odd zooms and perspective shots that make the viewer feel uneasy. Anderson has the exact same style except he applies it to comedies; but not just comedy but comedy with a dark underbelly that somehow still feel warm. They tackle challenging themes and depressing plots that always manage to make you laugh while smacking your heart a bit. The Grand Budapest Hotel is one of his finest examples.
It's no mystery that movies who want to catch an Oscar are dumped into the water like chum from September to December. Anderson, in an almost defiant way, has most of his films come out in late winter or early spring. It's a shame because they don't get the awards that he deserves but maybe that's not why he makes the movies he makes. The Grand Budapest Hotel is one of the first films of 2014 that should be nominated for Oscars. Will The Academy remember it in the fall? I surely hope that they do.