Annie Hall or Bananas? Blue Jasmine or Sleeper? Our critics Robbie Collin and Tim Robey rank all 47 Woody Allen movies
36. What’s Up, Tiger Lily? (1966)
On paper, it’s a hoot: a Japanese spy movie called International Secret Police: Key of Keys (1965), which Allen overdubbed in English to feel something like an Austin Powers spoof. Weird moments connect: “That’s Shepard Wong’s gambling ship!” remarks one female character. “Oh, I hate him so very much. He’s one of the seven worst people in the world.” But there’s something smirky, superior and naggingly problematic about the movie, like a giggling class joker making fun of the Asian kids. Allen himself disowned it as “stupid and juvenile” after producers wrested it away and inserted concert performances by The Lovin’ Spoonful.
35. Melinda and Melinda (2004)
Borrowing the Broadway Danny Rose structuring device of a dinner-table anecdote, Woody tells a tale of two hypothetical Melindas, both played by Radha Mitchell, whose gate-crashing of a Manhattan dinner party take different turns: one comic, one tragic. Comic Melinda has much better hair, but her exploits aren’t notably funnier than that of Tragic Melinda, who just turns up the neuroticism to 11 and seems convinced she’s doomed. Will Ferrell and Chlöe Sevigny at least look alive, and it feels like the definition of middling Allen, almost irritatingly watchable until it just stops.
34. Celebrity (1998)
Or: the one with Kenneth Branagh doing his party-trick Woody impression, Leonardo DiCaprio as a bratty A-list star bedding multiple models, and coarse routines with fellatio practised on bananas. It’s the last time Allen collaborated with Ingmar Bergman’s great cinematographer Sven Nyqvist, whose black-and-white vision of this strained media circus is doubtless designed to remind us of La Dolce Vita. But the film’s a bitter pill with negligible insights, and sends Branagh slavering after far too many gorgeous young starlets (Charlize Theron, Famke Janssen, Winona Ryder) for us to be quite comfortable.
33. Match Point (2005)
Match Point actually did Allen some favours: it set him up with a new muse in Scarlett Johansson, made decent money, and the script got him his first Oscar nomination since the late 1990s, to the abject horror of most British critics. Kinder US reviews saw this London-set murder tale as a return to the scabrous morality play of Crimes and Misdemeanors, but it was one afflicted with a telling and insurmountable tone-deafness: fatal for what was purporting to be a satirical dissection of the English class system. Extra debits for those silly ghosts at the end.
32. Mighty Aphrodite (1995)
Allen does Pygmalion, complete with a Borscht Belt Greek chorus, although the jumbled, snobbish and emotionally curdled results fall noticeably short of mythic. A well-to-do New Yorker (Allen) decides to trace the birth mother of his adorable adopted son, and is horrified – plus more than a little turned on – to discover she’s a hooker and porn starlet. Mira Sorvino gives an Oscar-winning, eardrum-tightening turn in a thankless role: the film patronises Sorvino’s character relentlessly, and when it works, it’s because the actress heroically refuses to roll over and take it.