We here at the Cine-Men pride ourselves in seeing as many films as we can. Yet combined we have still only seen just over half of Woody Allen’s filmography. There is something about his early work that was so original and as he completed a film a year since 1982 there have been some misses as there have been hits. And even his not so great films have some memorable stuff. Here though we have five of his films that we consider to be essentials and belong in the pantheon of classic films.
Annie Hall (1977)- It will forever be known as the movie that beat “Star Wars”. Which is still considered a feat seeing as how it is still considered just as much a classic as the George Lucas space epic that spawned a franchise that is still going on to this day. But along with his 70’s muse Diane Keaton as the titular character, Allen is at his neurotic best as Alvy Singer a comedian with a viewpoint on everything.
Manhattan (1979)- This one is all about the cinematography, and the beauty of New York as the 70’s came to an end. All the threads from different stories and characters work on just about every level as they all connect to Allen’s usual fast-talking script with a excellent performance by a super young Mariel Hemingway, as well as another great turn by Diane Keaton.
Match Point (2005)- As the new century began, Woody told a familiar story in his own unique way. With upper-class characters with the common problem of infidelity. With the first appearance of Allen’s new muse Scarlet Johansson as a femme fatale in a tennis outfit. This is an interesting build-up and excellent, classic outcome with that unique Allen sensibility.
Midnight in Paris (2011)- Probably my favorite Woody Allen film after “Annie Hall”. In what seemed to be the untapped potential of putting that ‘stream-of-consciousness’ speaking of Owen Wilson blended with Allen neuroticism equals near perfection. As Wilson strolls through the streets of Paris in modern time and after midnight in the hey day of the roaring 20’s, we get colorful characters on both sides and a inspiring debate on which is the better time, then or now.
Blue Jasmine (2013)- It was only going to be a matter of time before Allen found someone who could match his neurotic personality while still being talented enough to add some feminine flare. The brilliant modern day chameleon (see her Bob Dylan in “I’m Not There”) Cate Blanchett is right at home as the narcissistic Jasmine who manages to disrupt everyone’s life including her own. And it is also definitive proof that with the right Woody Allen script, it can bring out the brilliance in any actor, even Andrew Dice Clay.
–Robert L. Castillo