Midnight in Paris has gotten some of the best reviews in ages for master auteur Woody Allen, who keeps on cranking them out, as blissfully neurotic as ever.
And that’s a good opportunity for me to look back at Woody’s incredibly large ouevre and pick his five best gems, in ascending order of neuro-dazzle.
Special mentions go to Bullets Over Broadway, Alice, Broadway Danny Rose, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, and a whole mess of others, from dramas to comedies to tragicomedies and even his musical Everyone Says I Love You. Yes, I liked it!
The five best:
5. Zelig (1983)
Extremely clever pseudo-documentary with expert editing matching Woody’s wit and historical glee. The fact that I know someone who pretends to have been part of every event in modern history made it that much more relevant for me.
4. Sleeper (1973)
Chaplinesque romp with Woody as a man frozen asleep for 200 years. The orb and the orgasmatron are two of Woody’s most priceless inventions. Lordy, how nightclubs could use them now! Anyway, when this movie is funny, it’s gut-busting.
3. Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
A mature masterwork dabbling in New York neuroses, featuring a stellar cast doing their absolute best work (Oscars for Dianne Wiest and Michael Caine). At this point, Woody had stopped imitating the greats and unquestionably became one.
2. Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)
Even darker and deeper, though the drama about betrayal is countered with rip-roaring hilarity for a mix that is very heady and extremely Woody. I find this movie incredibly haunting and memorable.
1. Annie Hall (1974)
I had to go for the obvious because this is the most bittersweet, angsty, groundbreaking, fourth-wall-breaking, and funny love story ever made. Most famous line: “Hey, don’t knock masturbation. It’s sex with someone I love.” Best scene: The lobster cooking. Even if they’d stuck with the original title — Anhedonia — this would have been a classic. Maybe.