WOODY WEDNESDAY  Ranking Woody Allen’s 47 movies!!!! Part 7

Ranking Woody Allen’s 47 movies!!!! Part 1

The Best & The Rest: Every Woody Allen Film Ranked

This week, Woody Allen‘s 2016 title (for as we all know, there’s one each year), “Cafe Society,” starring Kristen Stewart, Jesse Eisenberg, Steve Carell, Corey Stoll, Blake Lively and Anna Camp, opens after a warm reception as the opening film at the most recent Cannes Film Festival. You can read our take from Cannes here, or hang on to scroll through and see where it lands on the list below, but we thought this would be a good time to gussy up our previous sprawling two-part Allen retrospective, and because we’ve been a little harmonious around here of late and miss the sounds of sobbing and breaking crockery, to rank it.

READ MORE: The Best And The Rest: Every Stanley Kubrick Ranked

Weathering personal scandal and coming in and out of fashion like flares, Allen’s been at constant work as a director for five decades now, and “Cafe Society” marks his 47th theatrically-released feature. Which means we have a lot to get through, so let’s get straight to it, shall we? Here, ranked worst to best, are all of Woody Allen’s theatrical features —with any list this long, there’s bound to be massive disagreement, so remember, the comments section awaits your ire. Or your congratulations, on the slim chance you agree with all of it.


September31. “September” (1987)
Marked by a fabulous performance by Elaine Stritch, who plays an awful, incorrigible, selfish and self-centered mother, Allen’s “September” is a film play, for better and worse, marked by long takes and few cuts. An ambrosial picture about secrets and lies, unrequited love, and crushed hopes, it is a somber, Bergman-esque chamber drama about the deceits and romantic betrayals that occur during a late summer weekend getaway in upstate New York. The bittersweet-but-mostly-bitter drama stars Stritch, Mia Farrow, Dianne Wiest, Jack Warden, Denholm Elliott and Sam Waterston, and shows Farrow’s depressive character and others all pining for objects of affection they can never attain. The picture is no “Autumn Sonata” (Bergman’s 1979 late-era masterpiece, which this mother-daughter-centric film vaguely resembles), but it’s not without its powerfully emotional scenes, generally between Farrow, Wiest and Stritch. Interestingly enough, the picture was shot twice, as early attempts with Sam Shepard, Maureen O’Sullivan and Christopher Walken failed to create sparks.

30. “What’s Up, Tiger Lily?” (1966)
Allen receives credit for being an auteur, a filmmaker with a distinct voice and very specific, abstract political views on the relationships between others. But he began modestly, with the aim to make people lose their composure in a flood of laughs, and in his early years, it’s startling how easy that seemed. Allen didn’t “direct” (as in “shoot”) most of “What’s Up, Tiger Lily?,” but the film is an early, brilliant precursor to the “Mystery Science Theater 3000” school of film appreciation. Using footage from two films in a Japanese series called “International Secret Police,” Allen recontextualized and redubbed key moments to turn the spy film into a search for the perfect egg salad recipe. It’s a cinematic mixtape, in other words, a fan-edit of sorts with Allen routinely popping in to remind us that he was a questionable choice by the studio to re-edit the film in the first place. More of a stunt than an actual film, the picture remains remarkably funny today, a testament to how much Allen thoroughly understood film comedy, even with extremely limited resources.

Shadows and Fog

shadows-and-fog-woody-allen29. “Shadows and Fog” (1992)
Shot in luminous, shrouded black and white by Michelangelo Antonioni cinematographer Carlo DiPalmi, doing his best German Expressionist, G.W. Pabst and F.W. Murnau impression, the appropriately titled “Shadows and Fog” is an ambitious entry in the director’s catalog. Here, Allen takes the starring role in this 1920s-set Kafka-esque story, as a sniveling and cowardly bookkeeper who is caught up in a vigilante group’s search for a local serial killer (major hat tip to Fritz Lang‘s “M“). A second story, which eventually meets up with the first, revolves around a circus clown (John Malkovich) searching for his sword-swallower girlfriend (Mia Farrow) who gets mixed up in the intrigue happening in a nearby whorehouse. All swinging directional lights and scary streets where prowlers and angry mobs roam unfettered, and featuring an excellent supporting cast including John Cusack, Madonna, Kenneth Mars, Kathy Bates, Jodie Foster, Julie Kavner, William H. Macy, Wallace Shawn, and Lily Tomlin it’s a bit of a puzzle why “Shadows and Fog,” with so much going for it, remains so distant and feels so minor.

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