Tomorrow, I will be seeing Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris – his 42 film as a director. I have seen 38 of his first 41, missing only his debut What’s Up Tiger Lily? along with A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy and September (one of these days, I’ll rent those three films and finish off his filmography). Allen is one of the most celebrated American writer/directors in history – he has been nominated for more writing Oscars than anyone else, and won Oscars for Directing and Writing Annie Hall and writing Hannah and Her Sisters, although he never showed up to get them. Of course, when you make 42 films in your career, not all are going to be good, but I think Allen’s track record is remarkably consistent. True, the most recent film on my top 10 is from 1997, and four out of five my five worst are from the 2000s, but I am not one that thinks Allen has completely lost it in the past 10 years. He has just grown a little more inconsistent. I easily could have put films like Match Point (2005), Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) or even the extremely underrated Cassandra’s Dream (2008) on a lesser director’s top ten, and been happy with it. Anyway, below are my 10 favorite and 5 least favorite Woody Allen movies.
I had a hard time limiting this to 10 films. I still cannot believe I didn’t have room from Bananas (1971), Sweet and Lowdown (1999), Match Point (2005) or Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008), but alas I did not. Here are my 10 favorites.
10. Deconstructing Harry (1997)
9. Everyone Says I Love You (1996)
8. Another Woman (1988)
7. Radio Days (1987)
6. Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
5. Husbands and Wives (1992)
4. The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)
3. Annie Hall (1977)
2. Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)
1. Manhattan (1979)
I don’t think my five worst list will shock anyone, except for maybe my choice for number five. Unlike many, I actually kind of like some of Allen’s lesser thought of works – Anything Else (2003) has a wonderful Allen performance (his last great one as an actor), even if Jason Biggs and Christina Ricci are miscast, I thoroughly enjoy Kenneth Branagh’s mugging in Celebrity (1998), thought Larry David made a suitable Allen substitute in Whatever Works (2009), enjoy the black and white photography of Shadows and Fog (1992) and think that Stardust Memories (1980) is hugely ambitious despite its many flaws. Below are the only five films of Allen’s career that I wouldn’t gladly pop in the DVD player tonight.
5. Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Sex*(*But Were Afraid to Ask) (1972)
4. Hollywood Ending (2002)
3. You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (2010)
2. The Curse of the Jade Scorpion (2001)
1. Scoop (2006)