The List: 10 best Wes Anderson characters

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From the March 20, 2014 edition

Wes Anderson’s latest movie, “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” also brings us more indelible characters in the Anderson world — none more so than Ralph Fiennes’ M. Gustave, who would rank high on this list. Here are the 10 Anderson characters that have stuck with me the most.

10. Pagoda (“The Royal Tenenbaums”)

Indian actor Kumar Pallana (RIP) played memorable minor roles in multiple Anderson films. I give the nod to Pagoda, Royal’s servant and informant, who taught us that sometimes great friendships can begin with a stabbing.

9. Scout Master Ward (“Moonrise Kingdom”)

Edward Norton’s impossibly earnest scout master is desperate to recover his lost Khaki Scout, Sam, yet he also realizes, “This is not just a rescue party. This is a great scouting opportunity.”

8. Mr. Fox (“The Fantastic Mr. Fox”)

The George Clooney-voiced lead of Anderson’s animated darling was a great dad and a great thief. “The cuss am I? Are you cussing with me?”

7. Herman Blume (“Rushmore”)

Bill Murray’s Blume was decades older than Max Fischer, and they had the same romantic interest in Olivia Williams’ Rosemary Cross, but the old man saw himself in that precocious kid, and an unlikely friendship was born.

6. Margot Tenenbaum (“The Royal Tenenbaums”)

Gwyneth Paltrow’s wonderfully morose Margot was a tortured artist and world-class chain smoker, who also was in love with her adoptive brother. There’s no more heartbreaking line in an Anderson film than, “I think we're just gonna have to be secretly in love with each other and leave it at that, Richie.”

5. Steve Zissou (“The Life Aquatic”)

Bill Murray took the lead in “Life Aquatic” and made Zissou a delightful mix of Jacques Cousteau and Captain Ahab that was all the while pure Bill Murray.

4. Royal Tenenbaum (“The Royal Tenenbaums”)

The terribly unlikable patriarch of the Tenenbaum family was doing the wrong thing (lying to his family about terminal illness) for the right reason (trying to reconnect with them, despite being a douche his whole life).

3. Max Fischer (“Rushmore”)

Ah, to be young and too smart for your own good! Jason Schwartzman’s Max was probably more than a little inspired by Anderson, as he put on elaborate stage productions to win the woman of his dreams.

2. Suzy & Sam (“Moonrise Kingdom”)

Ah, to be young and too in love for your own good! I couldn’t possibly separate the young lovers of “Moonrise Kingdom.” What kind of bird are you?

1. Dignan (“Bottle Rocket”)

Owen Wilson’s Dignan from Anderson’s first feature was a man with big plans for a life of crime. OK, so maybe he didn’t have the brains to be a criminal mastermind, but he could get a team together and had a keen fashion sense (not everyone can pull off a yellow jumpsuit).