As Blue Jasmine is released in more cities nationwide, we’re taking a look back at some of Woody Allen’s greatest work. His career has been a prolific one, and reviews for Blue Jasmine (starring Cate Blanchett) have been strong, indicating it might be an Oscar contender. Here’s Allen’s best work to date.
10. Midnight in Paris (2011)
This charming rom-com stars Owen Wilson in the lead role as a screenwriter vacationing in Paris with his fiancée (Rachel McAdams). Every night he is magically transported back in time to the 1920s, and spends the evening with the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Josephine Baker and Ernest Hemingway. The film was a commercial and critical success, earning just north of $150 million and an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.
9. Zelig (1983)
Woody Allen has visited the 1920s in his films before, notably in the mockumentary Zelig (F. Scott Fitzgerald makes an appearance in this film, as well). Allen plays the fictional Leonard Zelig who enjoyed a time of fame in the 1920s. His story is portrayed in the style of black-and-white newsreels featuring re-enactments, interviews and archival footage. Mia Farrow plays a psychologist who tries to help Zelig with his neurotic tendency to adopt the personas of those around him.
In Allen’s first film set in the UK, he took the plot to a darker place, writing a thriller without his usual dose of humor. Jonathan Rhys-Meyer stars as a tennis player trying to climb the social ladder, who gets engaged to the daughter of a wealthy businessman (Emily Mortimer). This convenient pairing sets the stage for the protagonist to enjoy the life he always wanted, but everything derails when he starts an affair with an American (Scarlett Johansson).
7. Sleeper (1973)
Woody is joined by his partner-in-crime Diane Keaton in one of their many collaborations in this sci-fi futuristic comedy. Waking up 200 years after being cryogenically frozen, a shop owner from the 1970s (Allen) finds himself stuck in a dystopian future that is controlled by a fascist leader. In order to evade capture, the blast-from-the-past hero pretends to be an android. The film was an instant addition to the list of comedy classics.
6. The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)
In another one of Allen’s fantasy films, New Jersey becomes the scene of much disruption and excitement when a movie character, Tom Baxter, walks out of the screen and falls in love with a struggling waitress portrayed by Mia Farrow. The actor who plays the character, Gil Shepherd, is sent to New Jersey by the producer to convince his onscreen persona to return to the film and abandon his love affair. The role of Tom Baxter/Gil Shepherd catapulted Jeff Daniels to stardom, earning him a Best Actor Golden Globe nomination.
5. Husbands and Wives (1992)
This tale of marriages falling apart, and a husband finding himself attracted to his barely legal student – starring Allen and his ex-wife Mia Farrow – debuted just as the media storm surrounding their real life divorce and Allen’s new relationship began to gain force. Critics praised the film for the high-caliber performances delivered by the entire cast (including Juliette Lewis, Liam Neeson, Sydney Pollack and Judy Davis) and the expertly crafted script that deals with uncomfortable romantic conflict.
4. Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)
This outing by Allen combines comedy and drama seamlessly, was nominated for 3 Oscars (Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor) and features yet another all-star cast (Anjelica Huston, Alan Alda, Martin Landau and Mia Farrow). Crimes and Misdemeanors features overlapping storylines, filled with both jokes and darkness, and evolves into an existential morality tale.
3. Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
Hannah and Her Sisters is one of several of Allen’s films set in New York. It follows the lives of three sisters (Mia Farrow, Dianne Wiest, and Barbara Hershey) and their extended family. Michael Caine won an Academy Award for his role as the cheating husband. Wiest and Allen also received Oscars for their contributions. The film tackles timeless and universal themes, including searching for love, building a family, anxiety over big life decisions and the inevitability of death.
Another of Woody’s New York films, Manhattan is shot in black and white and is known as one of his most visually impressive works. The film stars Allen in the lead role, as a middle-aged twice-divorced comedy writer who’s dating a 17-year-old (Mariel Hemingway), but eventually falls for his friend’s mistress (Diane Keaton). Meryl Streep and Anne Byrne also star in the film. There are several iconic scenes, including the opening sequence and a date in Central Park.
1. Annie Hall (1977)
Annie Hall is Woody Allen’s most well-known film and remains his best thus far. This is his only film that went on to win an Academy Award for Best Picture, beating fellow nominee Star Wars (the film also won Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Actress). Diane Keaton stars in the title role, and Allen stars as her romantic counterpart Alvy Singer. Allen accomplishes a lot in this hour and a half film, incorporating animation, surrealism, breaking the fourth wall and slapstick comedy blended smoothly with more serious reflection.
What are your favorite Woody Allen movies? Let us know in the comments below!