For this week, I’ll be focusing on the greatest film-maker to ever exist anywhere in the world, Woody Allen. In honor of this week’s release of his forty-second film, To Rome with Love.
(5) Midnight in Paris (2011)
Woody’s biggest hit in years (and the first film to bring him an Oscar since Hannah and Her Sisters) I was always disappointed at how many people referred to Midnight in Paris as “exquisitely enjoyable fluff.” For a man ticking slowly up to 80, I was still quite impressed with how much he still has to say about life, love and art. With Owen Wilson as maybe the best Woody doppelgänger ever, Corey Stoll’s star-making turn as Hemingway, and script full of choice lines and hilarious diatribes, Midnight in Paris is just a great film.
(4) Stardust Memories (1980)
Stardust Memories is a film that a lot of people consider a failure. Woody’s Ingmar Bergman tribute (because that’s what it is when it comes down to it) is really just that; he borrows copiously from the Bergman rulebook, particularly in the opening sequence that is just drenched in metaphor. Featuring one of Woody’s best performances and some of his darkest and most biographical material, Stardust Memories is a brilliantly dark and funny look at a man who was on top of the world and could literally do whatever he wanted.
(3) Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)
One of Woody’s darkest films, this is really two 45 minute movies that overlap at the end. Dealing with complex ideas about ethics and morality, this dual-film about obsession and filmmaking still stands as one of his best. Martin Landau’s Oscar-nominated performance is just fantastic, and Anjelica Huston is nearly as good.
(2) Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
It speaks to the brilliance of the script for this film that he can create characters like Michael Caine’s Elliot and Max von Sydow’s Frederick, two of the most unlikable and slimy characters ever put to celluloid, and still manage to give them small moments of redemption and pathos. But when you’re reading the best script of the past thirty years, you would expect things like that to happen. I can’t say enough about how perfect this script is. Deserves every accolade it gets, and is Woody’s best.
(1) Annie Hall (1977)
I’m not even going to write anything. You all knew this was coming. It’s the best film not only of Woody’s career, I maintain it’s the best, funniest film ever made. Read my previous write-up for it here.