Woody Allen Movies

Tuesday, January 11, 2011 at 1:24 am

Woody Allen movies are always about the relationships between men and women. I’m probably oversimplifying things, but try some egghead film scholar if you want a deeper analysis. I’m just a Texan who finds neurotic Jewish guys amusing.

His popularity in the United States has declined in recent years–thanks to that whole Soon-Yi scandal in the ’90s–but Allen remains a prolific filmmaker. He’s still celebrated abroad, and it’s not unusual to see his name when it comes time to hand out awards. Now in his 70s, Allen Stewart Konigsberg (aka Woody Allen) is still going strong.

I’ve listed ten of my favorite Woody Allen movies below, and all of them can be rented from Netflix.

Annie Hall (1977) – The definitive Woody Allen film, Annie Hall marked his maturation from wacky comedies to more serious works about the difficulties of love. Allen plays his usual role as a neurotic New Yorker, and this time his affections are centered on the vibrant Annie Hall (Diane Keaton). Both a critical and commercial success, Annie Hall won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay (Allen was also nominated for Best Actor). If you’ve never seen a Woody Allen film, this is an excellent place to start.

Stardust Memories (1980) – Sandy Bates (Allen) is a filmmaker whose more artsy recent films don’t measure up in the minds of his fans. As he grapples with this artistic dilemma, he must also juggle relationships with two very different women (Marie-Christine Barrault and Jessica Harper), as well as memories of his ex (Charlotte Rampling). Allen considers this one his best works, while fans and critics are divided. I admire his frequent parodying of 8 ½, not to mention the heavy themes of death, God, and war (among many others). Sharon Stone shows up in her first film role.

The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985) – My favorite Woody Allen movie, The Purple Rose of Cairo tells the story of a lonely New Jersey housewife (Mia Farrow) living through the Great Depression. She goes to the movies to escape her boredom. Imagine her surprise when a fictional character suddenly breaks the fourth wall and begins speaking to her. The actor (Jeff Daniels) who portrays the formerly on-screen character is soon brought in to help, but he also winds up falling in love. A charming love triangle bolstered by fine performances from the leads, as well as supporting turns from Danny Aiello and Edward Herrmann. Named as 100 of the best films ever by TIME magazine, as if you needed any more encouragement to see it.

Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) – A number of stories intertwine in this popular Woody Allen film, mostly centered around the solid-as-a-rock Hannah (Mia Farrow) and her husband, Elliot (Michael Caine). Other characters include Hannah’s sisters, Lee (Barbara Hershey) and Holly (Dianne Wiest), as well as her disease-obsessed ex-husband (Allen). Starting and ending during Thanksgiving dinner on different years, Hannah and Her Sisters is a classic look at the slippery slope that is love. Nominated for seven Oscars, it won for Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor (Caine), and Best Supporting Actress (Wiest).

Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989) – One of Allen’s darker films, Crimes and Misdemeanors follows two very different men who each face their own moral crisis. Judah Rosenthal (Martin Landau) is a New York ophthalmologist who’s carrying on an affair with an obsessive flight attendant (Anjelica Huston). When he fails to live up to his promises to leave his wife, his mistress threatens to reveal everything. Pushed into a corner, he begins contemplating a rather permanent solution to his problem. Meanwhile, filmmaker Cliff Stern (Woody Allen) is hired by his brother-in-law, Lester (Alan Alda), to make a film about him. As Stern slowly pieces together a scathing documentary on his rival, the two men compete for the affections of Halley (Mia Farrow), Lester’s associate producer. Nominated for three Academy Awards.

Rent Woody Allen Movies from Netflix.

Shadows and Fog (1992) – Allen based this film on his one-act play titled Death, and it serves as a tribute to both the works of Franz Kafka and German expressionist filmmakers. While a killer known as the Strangler is on the loose in the city, a large cast of characters navigate the (what else?) tricky waters of relationships. The impressive cast includes Allen, Kathy Bates, Mia Farrow, Jodie Foster, John Cusack, Madonna, John Malkovich, Donald Pleasance, Lily Tomlin, Kurtwood Smith, and David Ogden Stiers.

Bullets Over Broadway (1994) – Nominated for seven Oscars, this critically-acclaimed mixture of crime and comedy stars John Cusack as a playwright looking to break into Broadway in 1928. Hiring a gangster’s girlfriend (Jennifer Tilly) in order to gain funding, he soon finds that her bodyguard (Chazz Palminteri) has a real knack for transforming the play into a hit. Dianne Wiest gained Oscar gold for her role as a boozy actress, while other co-stars include Mary-Louise Parker, Jack Warden, Rob Reiner, Jim Broadbent, and Tracey Ullman.

Mighty Aphrodite (1995) – Mira Sorvino won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress as Linda Ash, a prostitute and porn star who gave her baby up for adoption. It turns out that the little tyke was adopted by sportswriter Lenny Weinrib (Woody Allen), and he becomes obsessed with finding the child’s real mother and later helping Linda change her life. Co-starring Michael Rapaport, Helena Bonham Carter, and Peter Weller. The whole thing is narrated by a Greek chorus (including F. Murray Abraham, Olympia Dukakis, Jack Warden, and David Ogden Stiers).

Sweet and Lowdown (1999) – Sean Penn stars as Emmet Ray, a self-absorbed jazz guitarist who carries on a relationship with a mute woman (Samantha Morton) during the ‘20s and ‘30s. Penn received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor, while Morton was recognized with a nomination for Best Supporting Actress without speaking a line of dialogue in the entire film. If you enjoy jazz guitar work–especially that of Django Reinhardt–be sure to see this one.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) – Filmed in lovely Barcelona and filled with a sense of loss, this Woody Allen film stars Rebecca Hall and Scarlett Johansson as a pair of American friends who travel to Spain, encounter an artist (Javier Bardem), and embark on a series of thrilling and ultimately painful erotic encounters. Penelope Cruz won an Oscar for her role as the artist’s mentally unstable wife.

See also:

  1. Darren Aronofsky Movies
  2. Marlon Brando Movies
  3. PT Anderson Movies
  4. Wes Anderson Movies
  5. Judd Apatow Movies
  6. Robert Aldrich Movies
  7. Peter Billingsley Movies

This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 11th, 2011 at 1:24 am and is filed under Good Movies. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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