Woody Allen. I’m a great admirer of the work of Woody Allen. I hesitate saying “fan” because I feel like that implies some sort of personal affinity or preference and I don’t think that’s an accurate description of my appreciation of his films. It’s certainly tough comparing Woody with his large oeuvre, which admittedly, has many lightweight entries, with those like leone, malick, dreyer, griffith, eisenstein, tarantino etc with fewer films but perhaps a higher quality per film ratio. The bottom line is, I think you could pretty much make a top 10 out of strictly masterpieces and must-see films (top 5 of the year quality films) from woody and I think I can only say that about four other directors (Hitchcock, Scorsese, Bergman, and the Coen Brothers). That’s very elite company.

best film: manhattan. Another tough decision for me here. Manhattan is his most beautiful and annie hall his most innovative and groundbreaking. I’m fine with either. I actually think his 4 masterpieces (including crimes and Hannah) are all big “M” Masterpieces so I don’t have a huge beef with someone picking any of the four. Manhattan is wonderfully shot—it’s Gordon Willis’ best work along with the godfather and godfather II which is saying something because he also did some amazing work for pakula as well.

most overrated: zeligZelig is overrated. It’s not the 6th best allen film nor is it the 670th best film of all-time in my mind as TSPDT would argue. I still enjoy the film and it does have it’s admirers as a “groundbreaking mockumentary” but really bunuel was doing this long before and that’s a pretty specific genre to be praising something for its pioneer-ness.

most underrated: husbands and wives. There are a ton of candidates here including love and death, sleeper, match point, and even Hannah and her sisters at #531 all-time but leaving off husbands from the top 1000 is the most egregious I believe.

gem I want to spotlight: I’ll just spotlight the entire 80’s period (or work with mia farrow which is technically 1982-1992) for woody allen because I think it gets overlooked too often. Everyone talks about his films with Keaton, his early “funny” films, and his recent mixed results in this century are all well-known and discussed…. In his 1980’s films, from is 8 ½-inspired stardust memories to husbands and wives, woody made 12 archivable films in 13 years, 7 top 10 films of their year, and a whopping 6 top 5 films of their year…. Wow… it’s an amazing run and that’s coming off annie hall and manhattan in 1977 and 1979.

stylistic innovations/traits:   Allen is not just a writer (though he’s amongst the best in the history of cinema). Unfortunately, we have his missteps this century fresh in our memory that sometimes it seems like gems like blue jasmine, VCB, and match point are few and far between. When he was at his heights his films were sumptuously shot and inventively edited. Think of how annie hall must have looked to people in 1977. I think the cuts to cartoons, breakway dialogue segments and interaction with memories, the narrator, etc seem common today but were anything but in 1977. Clearly Allen was influenced by bergman but equally he was influenced by the marx brothers and his best work combines the two (amongst other things including Russian literature and greek (and really all including kant) philosophy). If I’m getting long-winded here on woody it’s partly because I wrote a massive paper on this topic (him) in college.

Top 10

  1. manhattan
  2. annie hall
  3. hannah and her sisters
  4. crimes and misdemeanors
  5. husbands and wives
  6. broadway danny rose
  7. love and death
  8. stardust memories
  9. the purple rose of cairo
  10. match point

Top 100 directors running list

100) Fuller– 3 must-see, 1 HR, 12 archiveable films

99) Cukor– 1 masterpiece, 2 must-see, 1 HR, 18 archiveable

98) Demy- 1 masterpiece, 1 must-see, 1 HR, 5 archiveable

97) Jackson– 1 masterpiece, 1 HR, 3 archiveable

96) Miller– 1 masterpiece, 1 must-see, 1 HR, 5 archiveable

95) Kazan- 1 masterpiece, 1 must-see, 3 HR, 12 archiveable

94) Sofia Coppola- 1 masterpiece, 3 HR, 5 archiveable

93) Zemeckis- 1 masterpiece, 2 must-see, 1 HR, 7 archiveable

92) Preminger– 4 must-see, 15 archiveable

91) Miyazaki– 2 must-see, 4 HR, 10 archiveable

90) Lubitsch- 4 must-see, 2 HR, 11 archiveable

89) Tati– 3 must-see, 1 HR, 5 archiveable

88) von Stroheim- 1 masterpiece, 1 MS, 2 HR, 6 archiveable

87) Dardenne- 3 must-see, 3HR, 7 archiveable

86) Nicholas Ray- 1 masterpiece, 2 must-see, 2 HR, 11 archiveable

85) Iñárritu- 1 masterpiece, 2 must-see, 1 HR, 4 archiveable

84) De Palma- 3 must-see, 3 HR, 11 archiveable

83) Minnelli- 2 must-see, 6 HR, 10 archiveable

82) Curitz- 1 masterpiece, 6 HR, 17 archiveable

81) Aronofsky- 2 masterpieces, 1 must-see, 1.5 HR, 5 archiveable

80) Preston Sturges- 4 must-see, 1 HR, 8 archiveable

79) Walsh- 1 masterpiece, 1 must-see, 5 HR, 9 archiveable

78) Gilliam- 1 masterpiece, 2 must-see, 1 HR, 6 archiveable

77) Tarr- 2 masterpieces, 1 must-see, 4 archiveable

76) Nichols- 2 masterpieces, 1 must-see, 12 archiveable

75) Melville- 3 must-see, 4 HR, 9 archiveable

74) Sirk- 2 masterpieces, 1 must-see, 1 HR, 9 archiveable

73) Stone- 1 masterpiece, 2 must-see, 2.5 HR, 9 archiveable

72) Almodóvar- 1 masterpiece, 2 must-see 4 HR, 12 archiveable

71) Roeg- 2 masterpieces, 1 must-see, 2 HR 5 archiveable

70) Mizoguchi- 5 must-see, 3 HR, 8 archiveable

69) Wyler- 4 must-see, 8 HR, 18 archiveable

68) Jarmusch– 2 masterpieces, 2 MS, 1 HR 9 archiveable

67) Michael Mann– 1 masterpiece, 2 must-see, 2.5 HR 8 archiveable

66) Visconti- 2 masterpieces, 3 HR 10 archiveable

65) Haneke- 3 masterpieces, 3 HR, 9 archiveable

64) Linklater– 3 masterpieces, 5 HR, 12 archiveable

63) Satyajit Ray– 1 masterpiece, 3 must-see, 1 HR, 8 archiveable

62) Cuaron- 3 masterpieces, 6 archiveable

61) Cassavetes– 2 masterpieces, 4 HR, 9 archiveable

60) Cameron– 5 must-see, 7 archiveable

59) Huston- 2 masterpieces, 2 must-see, 5 HR, 17 archiveable

58) Bertolucci- 1 masterpieces, 2 must-see, 1 HR, 9 archiveable

57) Eastwood– 3 masterpieces, 2 must-see, 1 HR, 15 archiveable

56) Fincher- 3 masterpieces, 2 must-see, 9 archiveable

55) Ozu- 1 masterpiece, 5 HR, 9 archiveable

54) Capra- 3 masterpieces, 4 HR, 11 archiveable

53) Keaton– 2 masterpieces, 1 must-see, 4 HR, 9 archiveable

52) Peckinpah– 2 masterpieces, 2 HR, 8 archiveable

51) Chaplin– 3 masterpieces, 2 must-see, 1 HR, 10 archiveable

50) Spike Lee– 3 masterpieces, 1 HR, 9 archiveable

49) Kiewslowski– 3 masterpieces, 3 HR, 10 archiveable

48) Dreyer– 1 masterpiece, 3 must-see, 5 archiveable

47) Von Sternberg- 2 masterpieces, 1 must-see, 3 HR, 10 archiveable

46) Fassbinder- 5 must-see, 4 HR 11 archiveable

45) Nolan- 3 masterpieces, 2 must-see, 1 HR 8 archivable

44) WKW- 2 masterpieces, 1-2 must-see, 1 HR 8 archiveable

43) Herzog– 2 masterpieces, 1 must-see, 2 HR, 9 archiveable

42) Ridley Scott– 2 masterpieces, 3 HR, 11 archiveable

41) Wes Anderson- 4 masterpieces, 1 must-see, 1 HR, 8 archiveable

40) Lumet- 3 masterpieces, 2 must-see, 4 HR, 17 archiveable

39) Polanski- 3 masterpieces, 1 must-see, 3 HR, 12 archiveable

38) Griffith- 2 masterpieces, 3 HR, 6 archiveable

37) Von Trier- 3 masterpieces, 1 HR, 8 archiveable

36) Bresson- 2 masterpieces, 6 HR, 10 archiveable

35) Wilder -4 masterpieces, 4-5 HR, 20 archiveable

34) Powell- 3 masterpieces, 2 must-see, 2 HR, 10 archiveable

33) Rossellini- 2 masterpieces, 2 must-see, 3 HR, 10 archiveable

32) Spielberg- 4 masterpieces, 3 must-see, 2 HR, 18 archiveable

31) Cronenberg- 3 masterpieces, 3 must-see, 2 HR, 14 archiveable

30) De Sica- 2 masterpieces, 2 must-see, 1 HR, 9 archiveable

29) Altman- 3 masterpieces, 4 must-see, 2 HR, 16 archiveable

28) Lean 4 masterpieces, 1 must-see, 2 HR, 13 archiveable

27) Antonioni– 1 masterpieces, 5 must-see, 9 archiveable

26) PT Anderson- 3 masterpieces, 2 must-see, 7 archiveable

25) Coen- 4 masterpieces, 5 must-see, 1 HR, 16 archiveable

24) Eisenstein- 1 masterpiece, 4 must-see, 5 archiveable

23) Allen- 4 masterpieces, 5-6 must-see, 4-5 HR, 29 archiveable