Everyone has to love at least one Woody Allen film. Usually, this one film is Annie Hall. Despite being in the business of writing and directing films for over 50 years, Annie Hall has remained the definitive Woody Allen film. Of course, most people have also seen some of the other Woody Allen films. You would find in their favourite lists films like Hannah and Her Sisters, Deconstructing Harry, Manhattan, Sleeper etc. On their lists of “Woody Allen duds” you would find films like(if they even remember the name or the premise) Hollywood Ending, Scoop, To Rome With Love and quite a painful number of other films. Here is a list of films by Woody Allen you’re more likely to have watched(and watched again. And again). To make this read a little more helpful, I’ve included a list of comparatively lesser viewed gems that might even turn you from the casual viewer to a fan. So, without further ado…
The Top Five (Likely to be on a top five list) Woody Allen Films
Midnight in Paris
For years, movie viewers and reviewers have been saying that Woody Allen has lost the “touch”. In fact, it has become a sort of joke. Instead of laughing with him, as we have done so many times, there are those who laughed at him. And then came Vicky Christina Barcelona. Did it really happen again? Did Woody Allen really make a quality picture, or was it just the actors that made it such a treat? Come Midnight in Paris and there’s no questioning that the genius is still very much there. And to use the oft-used expression, he has aged like good wine.
Vicky Christina Barcelona
This is the film that marked his second coming. Or maybe his third. Or fourth. Or fifth. Maybe his talent was always there and like everybody else, he couldn’t have had successes without a failure here and there. I was a little apprehensive about including not one but two films from the 21st century(when he has been writing for film since 1962 and has done a film almost every year) but both of these are highly watchable (and re-watchable) and deserve to be right up there with, yes, the beloved Annie Hall.
This will be the only out-an-out comedy to feature on this list. This is not personally one of my favourite films from his early films. However, it is just as crisp, tight, witty, ROFL-before-it-even-existed funny. Sleeper is also science fiction, the first and last time Allen handled the genre, and did it very well. 2.Manhattan If you liked Annie Hall, you’re most likely to adore this one too. Deliberately made in black and white to give a rich, European feel, the narrative feels European too. A lovely Diane Keaton and a gorgeous Meryl Streep(for the first and maybe the last time in a Woody Allen film), this is thought to be his second best film.
Yeah, that movie that begins with an A and ends with a L. That movie that is the standard by which all of his other movies are judged. A Woody Allen film with a catchphrase like “La-di-da, la-di-da”. One of the best romantic comedies that has ever been made.
The Top Five(Unlikely to be on a top five list) Woody Allen Films
5. Small Time Crooks
What, a movie from the nineties? The nineties, which was predominantly a dud phase? A movie with Hugh Grant? Yes, yes all of the above. There’s nothing more fun than watching Woody Allen play an un-intellectual person, a commoner. But, the star of this film is Tracey Ullman, who plays Woody Allen ‘s wife and is a total laugh riot.
Manhattan Murder Mystery
Okay, so this one wasn’t much of a mystery. But, this is the closest you get to reliving the Annie Hall- Manhattan magic. Watch it for the Woody Allen-Diane Keaton chemistry and Alan Alda and Anjelica Huston supporting performances.
Woody Allen wrote this for film but he deliberately wanted it to feel like a play. Quite a simple premise with the oft-repeated themes of infidelity and difficult relationships and marriages, September does it equally good, if not better than all his other dramas.
Play It Again, Sam
Okay, so this one is likely to feature in top five and top ten lists, but I will still put it in this one. There are few films that can be watched back to back with Casablanca, and this definitely is one of them. And not just because it is an affectionate tribute to the masterpiece. Having Woody’s earlier crispness and the warmth of his romantic comedies, this one is a great one for helping with self-esteem issues too.
This one is personally my most favourite Woody Allen film. If I were a filmmaker, this is the kind of film I’d want to make. Woody is a narratorial presence here and I have to say, this is one of the best “Woody Allen” characters he’s ever written. A great ensemble cast and a most affectionate and nostagic look back at when radio ruled our lives.