WOODY WEDNESDAY Ranking Woody Allen’s 47 movies!!!! Part 14

WOODY WEDNESDAY Ranking Woody Allen’s 47 movies!!!! Part 14

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.

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The Purple Rose of Cairo13. “The Purple Rose of Cairo” (1985)
Woody Allen made quite a few excellent movies with his ex-partner Mia Farrow in his middle period, as exemplified by this one about a battered wife (Farrow) during the Great Depression. When she goes to the movie theater to escape her troubles, Ted Baxter (Jeff Daniels), one of the characters in the film-within-the-film “The Purple Rose of Cairo,” breaks the fourth wall and comes off the screen to declare his love for her. Hijinks ensue in which Hollywood bigwigs try to separate the world of fiction from reality with increasingly intricate and difficult questions being raised by the wish-fulfillment scenario it posits. The film is one of Allen’s best (he’s said it’s the film that came closest to being exactly as he had envisaged it would) and it also explores our fascination with the moving image in a more serious-minded way than its light touch suggests. In fact, for most of its running time it’s a delightful coming-into-your-own comedy until a perfectly sad, borderline heartbreaking ending that shows up the movies for the beautiful lie they are.

Stardust Memories”12. “Stardust Memories” (1980)
“Stardust Memories” has been called a homage to Fellini‘s “8 1/2,” though as Tony Roberts says in the movie — “Homage? We outright stole it.” Allen breaks a number of social (and filmmaking) conventions before the film ends. He talks about the emptiness of success and celebrity (the ultimate American taboo) and the futility of romantic love. These are, of course, subjects Allen has touched on previously in his other films but never with such a feeling of despair, despite the quips. The dreamy feel owes a lot to cinematographer Gordon Willis, who can pivot the black-and-white footage from lush to surreal to stark from one shot to the next without losing fluidity. The flashbacks that we aren’t sure are flashbacks are equally dazzling, while the Godard-ian jump cuts add to the dizzying meta film-within-a-film narrative. The characters are more like two-dimensional memories brought to life, lacking depth but overflowing in significance. However the futility of searching for meaning within is also one of the last and best jokes in the film: ”What do you think was the significance of the Rolls-Royce?” someone asks. ”I think it represented his car,” is the answer.

Broadway Danny Rose (1984) 8/9

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Trailer: Broadway Danny Rose 1984

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broadway_danny_rose-woody-allen-mia-farrow11. “Broadway Danny Rose” (1984)
While Woody Allen is rightly regarded as a film legend, people often forget that he’s also one of the last remaining links to an earlier showbiz world, having started his career as a comedy writer for folks like Herb Shriner and Sid Caesar, in an era when showbiz promoters were often as colorful as the acts they represented. Enter “Broadway” Danny Rose, played by Allen himself, the legendarily inept yet good-hearted huckster with an unshakeable faith in his stable of z-list talents — “Never took a lesson in her life!” he exclaims in admiration of his wine-glass-playing act. The black-and-white film is told in flashback as a Greek chorus of comedians sit around at a table at the famed Carnegie Deli and swap stories about the agent, and his spot of bother with a mafioso and his moll played by an inspired Mia Farrow. But the plot is merely the hook to hang a series of increasingly funny, absurd and touching anecdotes on, a tribute to bygone days and personalities that also gave Allen himself one of his most lovable acting roles ever.

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