2014: The Top 20. Number 5.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Wes Anderson is an auteur. His films have a distinct style, both in tone and in visual impression. They are precise, but never clinical. They are kooky, but never gratingly so. With The Grand Budapest Hotel he has crafted (for that is what he does; he does not just make films) a Russian doll structured film of ingenuity and inventiveness that is charming and witty and light and distinctive, like a fine meringue. The joy in The Grand Budapest Hotel is in its layers, and the precision with which they are unravelled.
A young girl, a memoir, a writer, a trip, a hotel, a painting. It’s wheels within wheels, and Wes Anderson is there, controlling them all, like a demented, yet oh so absolutely precise puppeteer.
And yet of course, as ever, there is far more to this film than a light dessert. The layer cake is but the top level (to extend the metaphor to breaking point) of a trifle deep with rich and nourishing fruit. For this story is told in a time and place of fluidity and change and unrest. It places this lightness upon a dangerous and taxing period in history.
Anderson’s films have a beauty unto themselves. Every frame is considered, and dwelt upon, and chosen specifically. There are no accidents. He is, in meticulousness if nothing else, reminiscent of Stanley Kubrick. He makes entertaining films that are undeniably artistic; art films that are irrefutably entertaining. And while his style may not be to everyone’s tastes, it is a hard viewer who can see the fervour with which Anderson applies his filmmaking skills and say it is not a good thing for cinema.
Is The Grand Budapest Hotel Anderson’s finest work to date? It may well be.