Annie Hall or Bananas? Blue Jasmine or Sleeper? Our critics Robbie Collin and Tim Robey rank all 47 Woody Allen movies
31. Small Time Crooks (2000)
One of Allen’s goofier and more good-natured entertainments in the post-peak era, this even got distribution from DreamWorks, and was a substantial summer hit. The second half is a deflating series of slightly snobbish nouveau-riche gags, but Allen and principal co-star Tracey Ullmann manage to sock these over with some zing: there are truly funny parts for Hugh Grant, too, as an oleaginous art dealer, and Elaine May as Ullman’s cousin, a chatterbox halfwit. It’s reminder of the now-lost era when Allen could populate a so-so script with the right cast to jolly it along, and that would do.
30. Alice (1990)
Mia Farrow’s wealthy Manhattan housewife rediscovers the wonderland that’s missing from her life and also, implicitly, the title of this lumpy magic-realist comedy. Seeking help for a bad back, Alice meets a Chinese doctor whose herbal infusions allow her to turn invisible (and thereby spy on her cheating husband), summon up an old boyfriend, soar above the Manhattan rooftops and generally defy the strictures of middle age. The role fits Farrow like a silk slip, but its kooky premise doesn’t quite shake up the by-now familiar narrative concerns.
29. Irrational Man (2015)
A middling entry in Allen’s unofficial Perfect Murder tetralogy (see also: nos 38, 32 and 2), with Joaquin Phoenix’s existentially impaired philosophy don plotting a broad-daylight poisoning as a means of reclaiming his übermenschian potency. The premise is tightly rigged, though its intellectual reference points (Nietzsche and Dostoyevsky again?) feel, at this point in Allen’s career, worn very thin indeed. But an odd, un-Allen-ish lead performance from Phoenix and sunny supporting work from Emma Stone tickle it to life. (Read the full review)
28. September (1987)
Nine years after Interiors, this was Allen’s first return to straight, sombre dramatic territory, though the model was more Chekhov than Bergman this time. Springing from the suicide attempt of Mia Farrow’s Lane, it’s a country-house whinge-athon about the miasma of personal unhappiness. It’s also oppressively ochre and overfurnished, relying on a stage-vet cast (especially Dianne Wiest and Elaine Stritch) to kick some life into it. Allen even shot it twice, replacing Sam Shepard, Charles Durning and Maureen Stapleton with Sam Waterston, Denholm Elliott and Stritch. He’s said he wouldn’t mind having a third go.
27. Sweet and Lowdown (1999)
Lilting and serene, with some good performances and even better jokes, this reminiscence about a (fictional) virtuoso guitarist of the 1930s is perhaps the only one of Allen’s films about an artist in which Allen himself could have never played the lead. That duty falls to Sean Penn, whose odious but talented jazzman is one of the director’s more memorable scumbags. The real star turn, however, is Samantha Morton, who gives a performance of supreme silent-movie control and comic timing as Penn’s mute lover.
26. Everyone Says I Love You (1996)
Allen cast a fond eye back to the Hollywood musicals of his childhood for this all-singing, star-stuffed confection, which follows a clan of wealthy Manhattanites chasing after love in New York, Venice and Paris. Edward Norton, Drew Barrymore, Julia Roberts and Goldie Hawn are among the game cast singing their hearts out. Despite those names it was a commercial flop, and its airiness can sometimes play as insubstantial. But when the film works, it really works: not least when Hawn defies gravity on the banks of the Seine in its magical finale.