WOODY WEDNESDAY  Ranking Woody Allen’s 47 movies!!!! Part 9

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.

Everyone Says I Love You25. “Everyone Says I Love You” (1996)
Lush with the sensation of romance in exotic places, Allen’s modern-day musical (scored with lip-synched 1930s standards) occupies a curious place in his oeuvre, following a family of Giuliani-era Upper East Side New Yorkers in romantic crisis in New York, Venice and Paris. Love has them all tangled up, from impulsive engagements to old flames flaring up again, that are all backdropped against the brownstones and Central Park foliage of New York or the bridges and waterways of the film’s European locations. But amid a very amiable ensemble (Alan Alda, Goldie Hawn, Drew Barrymore, Edward Norton, Natalie Portman, etc.) the film falters with Allen himself, who plays a single man who absconds to Venice to meet the girl of his dreams, played by Julia Roberts. The age discrepancy is glaringly unaddressed, and Roberts becomes one of the first casualties of Allen’s mid-period tendency to admire the beauty and vivacity of his younger female stars in lieu of giving them real notes to play. But the untrained and sometimes unsteady singing, which proved the most divisive element on release, might actually be our favorite part.

Radio Days24. “Radio Days” (1987)
Wedged somewhat awkwardly between one of Woody’s outright masterpieces and his run of explicitly ‘experimental’ fare, “Radio Days” often gets lost in the shuffle of the filmmaker’s busy period during the tail-end of the 1980s, but it merits revisiting as one of his most sophisticated, least ego-driven pictures. It engages in the stuff of romanticized autobiography (comparisons with Fellini’s “Amarcord” and Neil Simon’s “Brighton Beach Memoirs” abound) without tipping over into self-aggrandizing neurotica. True, there isn’t much here we haven’t seen before — in being a homage to the long-defunct radio era, it mimics a lot of the concerns of “The Purple Rose of Cairo,” or “Broadway Danny Rose” without ever quite attaining those films’ level of wit and warmth. But it’s still a spritely ode to eccentricity, an aping of the foibles of family life during the ’30s and ’40s, and a work that straddles the divide between the bleaker impulses of his output (Dianne Wiest’s lonely spinster repping here) and the pithy New Yorker humor and self-mockery that are often otherwise the opposing poles of his filmography.

Match Point Official Trailer!

Match Point23. “Match Point” (2005)
Given any 47-odd list of films to rank, there are going to be disagreements, and one sticking point we can predict in advance is the relatively low placement of this enduringly popular London-set thriller. But we’re sticking to our guns. Scarlett Johansson, at the very beginning of a run that saw her move from sexpot ingenue to one of our very favorite working actresses, is sulkily luminous, but not given a huge amount to do bar “be a fantasy” and while it should be a good thing that there’s no direct Allen stand-in for once, instead we get an emotionally and psychologically vague Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, and an empty-headed love affair that plays out against a London backdrop about as authentic as a series of postcards. Emily Mortimer and Matthew Goode are good value as the foils to the leads, but lacking the wit and snap that characterized the much, much better riff on the same themes that was “Crimes and Misdemeanors,” “Match Point” is not so much bad as slightly unnecessary, and dour in a way that feels uncharacteristic of even Allen’s most serious work.

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