It’s about damn time. Wes Anderson and his dedicated crew have finally achieved the recognition they deserve with this year’s nine Oscar nominations for The Grand Budapest Hotel. I can’t say that I’ve been a life-long follower of Mr. Anderson, but in the few years that I have been following his career it makes me so happy to see his work get the attention it truly deserves. The Grand Budapest Hotel has already won the Golden Globe for best motion picture in a Comedy or Musical, and now it is up for nine Oscars including Best Picture, Cinematography, Costume Design, Directing, Film Editing, Makeup and Hair, Music, Production, and Best Screenplay.
If you aren’t already familiar with this film, The Grand Budapest Hotel tells the story of a young man named Zero (Anthony Quinonzez) who lands a job at the prestigious Grand Budapest Hotel and also becomes the protégé of the hotel’s concierge, M. Gustave (Ray Fiennes). The film is set in a fictional country in Eastern Europe in the 1930s, during the time between the two world wars. As you can imagine, the costumes are just as amazing as one could hope in a Wes Anderson film. They are incredibly intricate and colorful and assuming you’ve seen his other films, there are all of his usual camera tricks: the quick pan, tracking shots, close-ups of handwritten notes/characters’ faces looking directly into the camera. The only Anderson trope missing from the film is the ever present Kinks or Rolling Stones songs littered throughout the soundtrack. Instead, the soundtrack is comprised of entirely original/instrumental songs. Don’t worry. If you were hoping for a consistently Wes Anderson- style film, The Grand Budapest Hotel is your movie.
And while I am absolutely thrilled that this film is receiving so much praise, I have to say that I don’t really agree that this should be the project to be so successful. I remember the exact moment I fell in love with Anderson’s work; it was when I saw the opening credits for Fantastic Mr. Fox. I remember saying to myself within the first 30 seconds, “I must own this.” I had never seen an entire one of his films until Fantastic Mr. Fox. I was also going through what I will call a “breakup” with my former beloved director, Tim Burton (another director known for his unique style). There was an entertainment void in my life, and Wes Anderson’s meticulous filmmaking filled it. I had never watched any movie before FMF and felt that everything about it was perfect. The costumes, the casting, music, scenery, color scheme all fit together so amazingly, as they do in all of his films. And soon after watching FMF, I dedicated the next few weeks to watching Rushmore, The Darjeeling Limited, The Royal Tenenbaums, etc. Film after film, it was apparent that Anderson is dedicated to his very specific type of filmmaking, and while many of his films share the same themes (and essentially the same cast) there was something wonderfully unique about each one.
There isn’t anything terribly offensive about The Grand Budapest Hotel that makes me hesitate to quite jump on board this Wes Anderson Oscar-bandwagon. Personally, I just don’t feel the same emotional connection with it as I do with most of his other films. That being said, I must also admit that I will support this film wholeheartedly in the Oscar competition, because I believe that Wes Anderson deserves the recognition not only for this film, but for all his other work as well. It may have taken this long and is not the perfect film for it, but Anderson and his team have finally gotten the love they deserve.