WOODY WEDNESDAY  Ranking Woody Allen’s 47 movies!!!! Part 8

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.

 

another-woman-woody-allen-gene-hackman-gena-rowlands28. “Another Woman” (1988)
Allen’s late ’80s-early 90s period is his golden-brown period, insofar as it seems to be an autumnal detour (all of it done with DPs Sven Nykvist and Carlo DiPalmi), more dramatic and generally focusing on female protagonists in distress, with recurring themes of infidelity and unhappy marriage. This one, starring Gena Rowlands, Mia Farrow, Ian Holm, Blythe Danner and an underused but astonishingly great Gene Hackman falls a little too squarely into this camp. The small-scale picture (tellingly shot by Bergman regular Sven Nykvist) is indebted to “Wild Strawberries,” and centers on a woman (Rowlands) who begins to overhear the problems of a despondent woman (Farrow) as she talks to her psychiatrist neighbor. The conversations precipitate Rowlands to reflect on her past via dreamlike flashbacks which makes her realize how carelessly she alienated former friends and lovers. The two women’s stories do come full circle, but this small, polished well-performed portrait is most remarkable for the rounded, complex and not necessarily likeable, though wholly capable woman at its center.

Trailer Small Time Crooks -2000-

 

 

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small-time-crooks-woody-allen27. “Small Time Crooks” (2000)
We’re so used to seeing Allen as a neurotic intellectual that it’s sometimes refreshing to see him playing at the other end of the spectrum, and his role in “Small Time Crooks” is one of a small cluster of fully-flung idiots. Riffing, at least in part, on Ealing crime comedies like “The Ladykillers” and “The Lavender Hill Mob,” Allen plays Ray, a jailbird who plans to rob a bank next to a bakery, only to discover that the cookies that his wife Frenchy (an excellent Tracey Ullman) has been selling as cover for the heist are far more lucrative. That, frankly, is a genius conceit and it deserves a better film than “Small Time Crooks” ever becomes — it’s an oddly structured piece, and the middle act, featuring Hugh Grant as a sleazy artist parodying the class system, is pretty weak. Despite its unevenness, though, it’s mostly an enjoyable, bouncy ride and in a rare acting appearance by the great Elaine May, it has one of the greatest, if briefest, supporting performances in the Allen canon.

_Mighty-Aphrodite-Woody-allen26. “Mighty Aphrodite” (1995)
Probably best remembered as being the movie that won Mira Sorvino a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award before she fell into oblivion “Mighty Aphrodite” remains one of the better movies from a not-exactly-fertile period for Allen. While the story is fairly typical Woody — he is a father looking to identify the biological mother of his adopted son, while stressing out about his marriage (to Helena Bonham Carter) — the setup is enlivened by another typical flourish: a Greek chorus narration (led by F. Murray Abraham), which sometimes even interacts with the characters. Featuring an excellent Michael Rapaport as a Brooklyn knucklehead, the performance by Sorvino, as the squeaky-voiced hooker with a heart of gold, is also better than it is on the page (though maybe not quite to an Oscar-worthy degree). There are sadly some icky story beats (Allen sleeps with Sorvino at one point), that somewhat spoil the goodheartedness and earnest energy elsewhere, but the chorus conceit that keeps Allen’s character honest (kind of) also thankfully keeps the film from becoming too much of a Greek tragedy.

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