23. Rushmore (1998)
Director: Wes Anderson
Stars: Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Olivia Williams, Seymour Cassel, Brian Cox, Mason Gamble, Connie Nielsen, Luke Wilson
Wes Anderson's films are an acquired taste. The critically hailed writer-director populates his well-manicured films with charming yet socially inept characters. The fixation on symmetry and consistently wry humor has been the source of scorn for later efforts like The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and The Darjeeling Limited. But Rushmore, thr first film to put Anderson on the map, is more than a collection of tics and quirks.
The film makes its hero an arrogant nerd (a spot-on Jason Schwartzman) who gets caught up in a love triangle with his academy's first grade teacher (Olivia Williams) and a strange millionaire (Bill Murray, in his resurrection role).
Whenever Schwartzman and Murray go toe-to-toe, Rushmore is sublimely hilarious; Anderson finds ways to make otherwise loathsome characters (a self-righteous 15-year-old geek, a rich prick) seem sympathetic. You'd probably want to knock Schwartzman's character out in real life, but, in Rushmore, you root for him. —MB