Day 195, Part 2: My Top Ten (Good and Bad) Woody Allen Films

Here are my 10 favorite Woody Allen films, ranked in order:

1. Annie Hall (1977)
2. Midnight in Paris (2011)
3. The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)
4. Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)
5. Take the Money and Run (1969)
6. The Curse of the Jade Scorpion (2001)
7. Manhattan (1979)
8. Match Point (2005)
9. Blue Jasmine (2013)
10. Small Time Crooks (2000)
10. (tie) Zelig (1983)

Here are my 10 least favorite Woody Allen films, ranked in order:

1. Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) (1972)
2. What’s Up, Tiger Lily? (1966)

(Two of the worst movies I’ve ever seen in my life, bar none.)

3. Sleeper (1973)
4. Bananas (1971)
5. Love and Death (1975)
6. Deconstructing Harry (1997)
7. Another Woman (1988)
8. Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
9. A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy (1982)
10. Celebrity (1998)
10: (tie) Husbands and Wives (1992)

I was surprised how many of Woody’s movies I didn’t like. But his films seen in context, one after another, I could definitely discern high and low points of creativity, as well as inspired versus uninspired screenwriting.

Woody Allen in the 1990s was caustic. Almost unwatchable. The patina of artistry had rubbed off and he was pure cynic, especially regarding relationships. The level of unhappiness in his characters is palpable. I can only take just so much watching people hurting each other, and themselves.

He rebounded in the early 2000s with some truly funny comedies.

And then he hit pure gold in 2011 and 2013 with Midnight in Parish and Blue Jasmine, respectively, two of his best movies – which is cool because he seems to get better the older he gets.

Day 193: Midnight in Paris

61WHnlZzQHLMidnight in Paris is a perfect movie, one I’ve watched dozens of times since it was released in 2011.

It is my second-favorite film by Woody Allen, second only to Annie Hall.

The Academy-Award winning script (Best Original Screenplay) is tight, witty, clever, and intelligent.

The casting is exceptional, although at first I couldn’t see Owen Wilson as Woody Allen, the stammering, gesturing writer looking for inspiration. He eventually grew on me.

Even the soundtrack is outstanding – so much so that I bought it as soon as it became available.

Midnight in Paris combines everything I love in a movie – including the kind of magic that could transport someone back in time…in this case, Paris in the 1920s, the city filled with ex-pats like Ernest Hemingway, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, and Cole Porter. Other characters making an appearance are Henri De Toulouse-Lautrec, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Man Ray, Matisse, Gauguin, Degas, and others.

The cast is remarkable:

Owen Wilson … Gil
Rachel McAdams … Inez
Kurt Fuller … John
Mimi Kennedy … Helen
Michael Sheen … Paul
Alison Pill … Zelda Fitzgerald
Tom Hiddleston … F. Scott Fitzgerald
Marion Cotillard … Adriana
Corey Stoll … Ernest Hemingway
Kathy Bates … Gertrude Stein
Adrien Brody … Salvador Dalí
Tom Cordier … Man Ray
Léa Seydoux … Gabrielle

Standout performances were turned in by Tom Hiddleston as Scott Fitzgerald, Alison Pill as Zelda Fitzgerald, Corey Stoll as Hemingway (possibly the greatest performance in the film), Adrien Brody as Dali (the second best performance), and Marion Cotillard as Adriana, one of the sexiest woman ever to Continue reading