The best and worst Woody Allen movies

From nourishment to nebbishment (and all points in between), we rank the comedian-director’s 43 features

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He’s made a movie a year for decades—and we can’t hide our broadest smiles when Woody Allen’s white credits pop up on a black screen and the jazz music kicks in. As for the romances, dramas and comedies that follow? We’ve got opinions. Take a trip through our countdown of Woody’s career: his ups, his downs, his essential masterpieces.

Written by Dave Calhoun, Cath Clarke, Tom Huddleston, Joshua Rothkopf and Keith Uhlich

43

Scoop (2006)

The worst of Woody’s European jaunts, this one didn’t even receive theatrical distribution in the country in which it’s set: Britain. Woody paired himself with Scarlett Johansson to play, respectively, a magician called the Great Splendini and a journalism student who goes on the trail of a killer. It’s not radical to call it his low point.—Dave Calhoun

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42

Whatever Works (2009)

Originally written in the early 1970s as a project for the mighty Zero Mostel, this misanthropic comedy was rooted out of the script drawer and retooled for Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Larry David. The results aren’t terrible—just not especially likable. The characters are fairly obnoxious, the script is largely joke-free, and the plot doesn’t go anywhere.—Tom Huddleston

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41

Cassandra's Dream (2007)

The beginning of the 21st century was a hard time to be a Woody Allen fan. On a losing streak of London-set films, he crossed to the dark side with this thin drama starring Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell as brothers who agree to do a hit for their uncle to get them out of a tough spot.—Cath Clarke

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40

Anything Else (2003)

Smack-dab in the middle of a halfhearted period for the Woodman, this shrill romantic comedy stumbles mainly in casting: As the manipulative, noncommittal Amanda, Christina Ricci never quite taps into humor. Meanwhile, Jason Biggs turns Allen’s stammering everynebbish into a bland carbon copy. It feels like an American Pie sequel without the pastry.—Joshua Rothkopf

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39

Hollywood Ending (2002)

In what feels more like a padded short story, the director-star plays a formerly great filmmaker reduced to overseeing TV ads. When he’s finally tapped for a big project, the guy suffers an instant, psychosomatic stroke of blindness—yet the show goes on. The movie-set slapstick is tired, as are Allen’s satirical jabs at moneyed showbiz types.—Joshua Rothkopf

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38

Match Point (2005)

It was meant to be Woody’s comeback. Instead, it set the tone for his inexplicable “London period” of avoidable films, with their toneless dialogue and uneven acting. It’s a sub-Highsmith thriller about ambition and deception among the upper classes, in which a tennis coach (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) wheedles his way into a rich family.—Cath Clarke

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37

Melinda and Melinda (2004)

Overly schematic, this was the one that had a bunch of brainy playwrights eating at Pastis, batting around a simple scenario, one of them shaping it as a comedy, the other as drama. As the fictional title character, intense Radha Mitchell can’t pull off half of the equation—and it’s hard to say if Winona Ryder, intended to star, would have done it any better.—Joshua Rothkopf

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36

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (2010)

Possibly the best thing you can say about this film is that it’s the least bad project from Woody’s London phase. A comedy with a taste as bitter as arsenic, it has thinly drawn characters navigating marriage failures, the search for love and fortune-telling. Not wholly terrible.—Cath Clarke

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35

The Curse of the Jade Scorpion (2001)

This ’40s-set screwball comedy came shortly before Woody departed to make films in Europe for several years. It features the director as an insurance investigator who’s unwittingly hypnotized to carry out jewel heists; audiences struggled with the aging Allen putting himself in romantic situations with Charlize Theron.—Dave Calhoun

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34

To Rome with Love (2012)

An extremely patchy patchwork of stories set in modern Rome, this film has tourist Woody meeting his Italian future son-in-law for the first time in the Italian capital. The high point is an opera singer whose talents only emerge in the shower—so he takes the entire cubicle onstage with him, to great acclaim.—Dave Calhoun

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33

A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy (1982)

A rare straightforward remake for Woody—unsurprisingly, of an Ingmar Bergman movie. Smiles of a Summer Night (1955) was one of the Swedish master’s jolliest, least angst-ridden films, and Woody follows suit with an enormously likable if totally lightweight comedy of romantic misunderstandings in a bucolic country setting.—Tom Huddleston

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32

September (1987)

It’s hard to pick another American director as consistently on fire as Allen was in the ’80s, yet this Bergmanesque domestic drama outfoxed him. Notoriously, he reshot it with a different cast, but the longueurs remained. Regardless, the presence of a majestically rude Elaine Stritch (R.I.P.) goes a long way. It remains Allen’s worst-performing film, but an intriguing one.—Joshua Rothkopf

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31

Shadows and Fog (1991)

One of Woody’s less successful experiments with genre. Shadows and Fog draws on his beloved German Expressionism to create a world of murky morals and shifting allegiances, steeped in Kafkaesque angst. The film is beautiful to look at, but the mismatched cast-—John Malkovich, Jodie Foster, Madonna—and uneven script leave the film feeling awkward and uneasy.—Tom Huddleston

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Continue to numbers 30-21 in our list



Users say

28 comments
Ben C
Ben C

This list is backwards in many ways.  Broadway Danny Rose is soul-deadening.  Just what am I supposed to find amusing or enlightening about that junk?  That's why worst Woody Allen film.  Sweet & Lowdown just has no remarkable qualities.  I like the bold choice of making Crimes & Misdemeanors #2, though I wouldn't put it quite that high.  And Zelig and Purple Rose of Cairo were vapid gimmicks. Annie Hall just doesn't stand the test of time the way Manhattan does, though Manhattan, while boasting the best dialog, is marred by some bad acting from Michael Murphy and that awful Gershwin soundtrack my wife incisively called "Leave It to Beaver on steroids."

Here is my list.

1.  Husbands & Wives

2.  Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy

3.  Manhattan Murder Mystery

4.  Sleeper

5. Crimes & Misdemeanors

6.  Manhattan

7.  Another Woman 

8. Vicky Cristina Barcelona

9.  Love & Death

10.  Annie Hall

11. Midnight in Paris

12. Cassandra's Dream

13. You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger

14. Deconstructing Harry

15. Curse of the Jade Scorpion

16. Hannah & Her Sisters

17. Melinda & Melinda

WORST FILMS

Broadway Danny Rose

Stardust Memories

Zelig

Alice

Shadows & Fog

Hollywood Ending

Edward C
Edward C

this list is almost completely backwards, in my opinion. not that it really matters. i'll probably never watch one of his films again. i can't enjoy them knowing what i do about his personal life.

Alan Smithee
Alan Smithee

This page just about ruined my day.  I realize this is a highly subjective matter but we're treading on sacred ground here.  After reading this article and the comments, I'm feeling kind of like a devout Muslim forced peruse a sexy "12 Months of Muhammad" calendar.  Praise be to you, O blessed trinity of Allen, Coens and Kubrick.  Forgive them for they know not what they do.

Cayo H
Cayo H

Magic in the Moonlight will be in the bottom half of the list when this is revised.....but I still give almost every Woody film a look.....I dread the day when there won't be one each year.....

nubwaxer
nubwaxer

all i can remember is some kind of really lame word play i found offensive.  it's something along the lines that if someone says for example "did you . . . " woody's character pressures his friend to agree that he heard "did jew . . . " or something like that. 

actually when i saw number 43 i remembered that is was not entirely a waste of time to sit through it.  the rest of the list?  if i can't think of one outstanding film nby the director without going through the list then i don't have much interest here.

oh wait, zelig was interesting but hardly memorable.

Gaurav K
Gaurav K

Without getting into the painfully repeated thing about hundreds of dubious ratings online, just my personal favorites:

1. Broadway Danny Rose (A true masterpiece, criminally underrated)

2. Sweet and Lowdown (until Uma Thurman's poorly written character showed up and ruined the last 20 odd minutes)

3. Stardust Memories

4. Zelig

5. Deconstructing Harry

Hugo Emanuel M
Hugo Emanuel M

It's an informative list because it lists all of Allen's films but the rating is very dubious. I know everyone has a different opinion but frankly I can't understand how can to Rome with Love is rated higher than Match Point  or how Anything Else and Melinda and Melinda stands above Whatever Works. My personal Woody Allen favorites are Crimes and Misdemenours, Deconstructing Harry (sadly underrated), Sleeper, Manhattan, Husbands and Wives, Bullets over Broadway and Match Point. 

Robert L
Robert L

They are all works of genius and deserve serious study. You're witnessing the tortuous path of spiritual evolution of a lost yet educated Jewish atheist in our age, within a background of sardonic humor.

Shaz K
Shaz K

There are so many on this list that I didn't even know existed. I wish someone would release a giant Woody Allen films boxset!

anders n
anders n

They Forgot "Play It Again, Sam" which is an essential early comedy (1972)


Akash V
Akash V

Blue Jasmine being #10 is absurd. It wasn't that good. And for Gods sake, Annie Hall is not that good. His best films are-

Hannah and her Sisters, Crimes and Misdemeanors and Manhattan. Broadway danny Rose was fantastic as well. Deconstructing Harry, probably his most underrated film, deserves a top 10 spot.

Mark E
Mark E

I like almost every Woody film, but I'd say only about 15-20 of them are essential.  Your top 20 has 15 of my top 20.  So that's pretty good!


Bullets Over Broadway and Zelig are almost unwatchable, if you ask me.  Sleeper, Stardust Memories and Another Woman are fine, but not in my top 20.  We agree on the rest!

Scott F
Scott F

"Blue Jasmine" in the Top 10? Please. The film might as well take place in Moscow -- Woody has no feel for the rhythms or culture of San Francisco. It's another New York film, filled with New Yorkers, just happens to take place in San Francisco. Maybe his most overrated film.

I'll take "Crimes and Misdemeanors" at No. 1. And "Love and Death" belongs in the top 10.

will d
will d

This list has the same weight to it as Time Outs "Where to get the best Slice".  It's all subjective, and a ridiculous idea for a feature or whatever this is supposed to be.  Grade F Time Out.  

Chris M
Chris M

Blue Jasmine was not very good. It absolutely CANNOT be in the top 10 woody allen films.

David B
David B

The transcriber must have mistakenly switched positions for the thoughtful and thoroughly watchable #38 Match Point (2005) and the excruciatingly bad #8 Sweet and Lowdown (1999)...right? My pick for writer-director Allen's most wildly over-rated movie has to be #6 Broadway Danny Rose (1984). Everyone in it appears to be trying so hard to be funny, but there isn't an honest laugh in sight. Otherwise, I would largely agree with this list. Fun.

RJ M
RJ M

no Play it again, Sam?

Montse B
Montse B

Vicky, Christina, Barcelona is not only his worst film by far, but possibly one of the lamest I have ever see in my life. 

Stephen S
Stephen S

@Robert L 

Cassandra's Dream a work of genius? Don't be ridiculous, it's absolutely appalling

Cristobal F
Cristobal F

@Scott F So, a movie is only good if it thoroughly captures the "vibe" of the locale???  It just so happens that San Fransisco sucks.  I don't want to see anything about it on film.  Thank God it shows New Yorkers in San Francisco.  And after all, in real life many NYers are trapped in that stinkhole.  Their stories should be told.

David B
David B

@RJ M Yes, I would have placed Play It Again, Sam (1972) fairly high on this list but it can't be considered a "Woody Allen movie" since it was not directed by him. It was directed by Herbert Ross.

Robert L
Robert L

@Montse B You just don't get it! It's the story of millions of American tourist girls and how they get fucked by European sophisticates during their "vacation", be it from college, their boyfriend, or their husband.

Scott F
Scott F

@Cristobal F A movie that is about a locale should be true to that locale.

" It just so happens that San Fransisco sucks.  I don't want to see anything about it on film."

Ah, I see. You're an idiot.

Stephen S
Stephen S

@Robert L

You have serious issues, Bro AND you like every Woody Allen film ever made

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