Director: Wes Anderson
Stars: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, Bob Balaban
So what if writer-director Wes Anderson always makes the same kind of incessantly quirky little comedies? When they’re as superbly made as Moonrise Kingdom, there should be no reason to complain, haters—especially since this one is arguably the best movie of Anderson’s illustrious 16-year career.
Set in 1965, the dreamlike Moonrise Kingdom feels more like a fable come to life than a traditional movie. The perfectly cast young duo of Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward play an orphaned boy scout and an eccentric dreamer, respectively, who, guided by a shared first-time love, run away from their homes and cause a formidable cast of grade-A actors (including Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, and Bill Murray) to drop everything and search for them. Bizarre shenanigans, tender (and somehow not creepy) kiddie romance, and unpredictable storytelling ensue.
Admittedly, most of the movies included in this countdown don’t have the most pleasant dispositions; Moonrise Kingdom, however, will make you want clap your hands and flash a cheese-grin, partly because of its wonderful execution but mainly as a reaction to Anderson’s unflappable, singular brand of optimism.