Woody AllenJerry Kupcinet - photographer, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The 10 best Woody Allen films

As someone who's been a lifelong fan of Woody Allen, it's always been a tough task for me to narrow down his best films to just a top 10 list. After all, with a career spanning over five decades and 50+ movies to his name there are so many great works to choose from. But after careful consideration, I've finally come up with my own personal picks for the 10 best Woody Allen films. From his early, witty comedies, to his more introspective dramas these are the films that I believe truly showcase Allen's unique voice and vision. So join me as we dive into the world of Woody Allen and discover some of the finest films in the history of cinema.


Table of contents

  1. Annie Hall

    Annie HallAnnie Hall is a 1977 romantic comedy film directed by Woody Allen, who also stars in the movie as the main character, Alvy Singer. The film explores Alvy's relationship with Annie Hall played by Diane Keaton, and his attempts to understand why their relationship ended a year ago. The movie is renowned for its innovative structure, its use of humor, and its portrayal of complex relationships.

    Read more: Annie Hall: 10 Curiosities and Facts

    One of the most notable aspects of Annie Hall is its non-linear structure, with the story told through a series of flashbacks, dream sequences, and breaking of the fourth wall. This unconventional storytelling style allows Allen to delve into Alvy's psyche, exploring his anxieties, insecurities, and neuroses, while also providing insight into Annie's character and their relationship.

    The film also stands out for its use of humor, which ranges from witty one-liners to absurd physical comedy. The humor is often used to explore deeper themes, such as love, sex, death, and identity, with Allen's character frequently breaking the fourth wall to comment on the events taking place on screen.

    Annie Hall is also notable for its portrayal of complex relationships, particularly the dynamic between Alvy and Annie. Their relationship is portrayed as multifaceted, with moments of love, humor, and tenderness interspersed with moments of tension, frustration, and misunderstanding. The film explores the idea that relationships are complicated and messy, and that they often involve a great deal of compromise and sacrifice.

  2. Manhattan

    Manhattan"Manhattan" is a 1979 American romantic comedy-drama film directed by Woody Allen, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Marshall Brickman. The film is set in New York City and follows the romantic relationships of a middle-aged comedy writer, Isaac Davis (played by Allen), with two women: his 17-year-old girlfriend Tracy (Mariel Hemingway), and his best friend's mistress, Mary (Diane Keaton).

    Read more: Manhattan: 10 curiosities and facts

    The film is known for its stunning black and white cinematography, which beautifully captures the city's iconic landmarks and landscapes. The film's soundtrack features a mix of jazz music, including pieces by George Gershwin as well as classical compositions.

    One of the most notable elements of "Manhattan" is its depiction of complex and flawed characters. Isaac, in particular is a neurotic and self-absorbed character who struggles with relationships and commitment. Mary his love interest, is similarly flawed, as she is involved in an affair with Isaac's married friend. The film's exploration of these relationships and characters is both humorous and poignant and it highlights Allen's ability to create compelling and relatable characters.

  3. Hannah and Her Sisters

    Hannah and her Sisters"Hannah and Her Sisters" is a 1986 comedy-drama film directed by Woody Allen. The film follows the lives of three sisters - Hannah (Mia Farrow) Lee (Barbara Hershey) and Holly (Dianne Wiest) - and their respective relationships with men.

    Read more: Hannah and Her Sisters. 10 curiosities and facts

    Hannah is the stable responsible sister who is married to Elliot (Michael Caine) a successful financial adviser. Lee on the other hand is Hannah's insecure, artistically inclined sister who is involved in an affair with Elliot. Holly is the youngest sister, who struggles with her career as an actress and her relationships with men.

    The film is set in New York City and explores themes of love, relationships infidelity and mortality. The characters' lives intersect and overlap in various ways, as they navigate the complexities of their own desires and fears.

    One of the standout performances in the film is Michael Caine's portrayal of Elliot the charming but morally flawed husband of Hannah. He won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance.

    "Hannah and Her Sisters" received critical acclaim and was a commercial success, grossing over $40 million worldwide. It was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and won three including Best Original Screenplay for Woody Allen.

  4. Crimes and Misdemeanors

    Crimes and Misdemeanors"Crimes and Misdemeanors" is a 1989 American film written and directed by Woody Allen. It stars Martin Landau, Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, and Anjelica Huston among others.

    Read more: Crimes and Misdemeanors: 10 curiosities and facts

    The film tells two parallel stories that converge towards the end. The first story follows Judah Rosenthal (Martin Landau) a successful ophthalmologist who is having an affair with a flight attendant named Dolores (Anjelica Huston). When Dolores threatens to expose their affair to Judah's wife and colleagues, Judah decides to have her killed. The second story follows Cliff Stern (Woody Allen) a struggling filmmaker who is trying to make a documentary about his pompous brother-in-law, Lester (Alan Alda). Cliff is also having problems with his own marriage and falls in love with his brother-in-law's mistress, Halley (Mia Farrow).

    As the two stories unfold, they explore the themes of morality ethics and the human condition. Judah's story raises questions about the price of success, the limits of morality, and the nature of guilt. He is haunted by the memory of Dolores, and his actions lead him to question the existence of a just and moral universe. Cliff's story, on the other hand, examines the nature of love, happiness and the role of art in life. He is disillusioned with his own life and work and his experiences lead him to question the meaning of life and the value of human relationships.

    In the end the two stories converge as Judah and Cliff attend the same family wedding. As they talk Judah reveals to Cliff what he has done and Cliff realizes that Judah's story is the documentary he has been trying to make all along. The film ends with a shot of Judah alone in his study, looking at himself in the mirror, as his conscience continues to torment him.

  5. Match Point

    Match Point"Match Point" is a 2005 drama thriller film directed by Woody Allen. The movie stars Jonathan Rhys Meyers Scarlett Johansson, Emily Mortimer, and Matthew Goode. The plot follows a former tennis player Chris Wilton (Meyers) who becomes romantically involved with Nola Rice (Johansson), his friend's fiancée, leading to a series of events that have far-reaching consequences.

    Read more: Match Point: 10 curiosities and facts

    The film explores themes of morality, fate, and the consequences of one's actions. It also touches on the topic of social class, as Chris, who comes from a working-class background becomes involved with an upper-class family.

    The film received critical acclaim for its storytelling acting and direction. Many praised Allen's departure from his usual comedic style and his exploration of darker themes. "Match Point" was nominated for several awards, including an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

    Overall "Match Point" is a gripping and thought-provoking film that showcases Allen's versatility as a filmmaker.

  1. Midnight in Paris

    Midnight in Paris"Midnight in Paris" is a 2011 romantic-comedy film written and directed by Woody Allen. The movie stars Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, and Marion Cotillard.

    Read more: Midnight in Paris: 10 curiosities and facts

    The story follows Gil Pender (played by Owen Wilson) a disillusioned Hollywood screenwriter who is on vacation in Paris with his fiancée, Inez (played by Rachel McAdams), and her wealthy parents. While wandering the streets of Paris at night, Gil discovers a mysterious time portal that transports him back to the 1920s where he meets some of the literary and artistic icons of the era including Ernest Hemingway F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Salvador Dali.

    As Gil becomes increasingly drawn to this world he begins to question his relationship with Inez and his own aspirations as a writer. Meanwhile, Inez begins to grow close to an old friend, Paul (played by Michael Sheen), who is in Paris on business.

    "Midnight in Paris" explores themes of nostalgia, creativity and the allure of the past. It is also a love letter to Paris, with stunning visuals of the city's iconic landmarks and streets. The film was well-received by critics and audiences alike and it received four Academy Award nominations including Best Picture and Best Director for Woody Allen.

  2. Love and Death

    Love and Death"Love and Death" is a 1975 satirical comedy film directed and written by Woody Allen. The film is a parody of Russian literature particularly of the works of Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, as well as of the films of Sergei Eisenstein.

    Read more: Love and Death: 10 Curiosities and Facts

    The story follows Boris Grushenko (played by Woody Allen), a neurotic and cowardly Russian soldier during the Napoleonic Wars who dreams of becoming a hero and winning the love of his cousin Sonia (played by Diane Keaton). Along the way, Boris becomes involved in a plot to assassinate Napoleon and travels across Europe to carry out the plan.

    The film is notable for its witty and irreverent humor as well as its references to Russian literature and philosophy. It also features an impressive cast, including Diane Keaton, Olga Georges-Picot, Harold Gould, and Jessica Harper.

    "Love and Death" received positive reviews from critics and was a commercial success, grossing over $20 million at the box office. It has since become a cult classic and is considered one of Woody Allen's best films. The movie was nominated for two Academy Awards: Best Screenplay and Best Cinematography.

  3. Bullets Over Broadway

    Bullets Over Broadway"Bullets Over Broadway" is a 1994 comedy film written and directed by Woody Allen. The movie stars John Cusack, Dianne Wiest, and Jennifer Tilly, among others.

    Read more: Bullets Over Broadway: 10 curiosities and facts

    The story is set in New York in the 1920s and centers around a struggling young playwright named David Shayne (John Cusack) who gets his big break when a gangster, Nick Valenti (Joe Viterelli), agrees to finance his play. However, the catch is that Valenti insists that his girlfriend, a wannabe actress named Olive Neal (Jennifer Tilly), be given a leading role in the play.

    As the play rehearsals progress, David finds himself struggling to deal with the various eccentric personalities involved, including the overbearing Olive the temperamental leading lady (Dianne Wiest), and the arrogant leading man (Jack Warden). Meanwhile, David falls for the beautiful and intelligent Ellen (Mia Farrow) who is dating the wealthy and unfaithful Warner Purcell (Rob Reiner).

    The movie is a witty and entertaining satire of the theater world and the struggles of artists to reconcile their artistic ambitions with commercial success. The performances are excellent, particularly those of Wiest and Tilly, who both won Academy Awards for their roles. The film also features a lively jazz score by Dick Hyman and a number of well-known jazz musicians, such as Joe Newman and Bob Wilber.

  4. The Purple Rose of Cairo

    The Purple Rose of Cairo"The Purple Rose of Cairo" is a 1985 film written and directed by Woody Allen. The movie stars Mia Farrow as Cecilia, a woman living in New Jersey during the Great Depression who escapes her unhappy life by going to the movies. One day while watching the film "The Purple Rose of Cairo, " the character Tom Baxter (played by Jeff Daniels) walks off the screen and into her world. Cecilia is delighted by Tom's presence and they quickly form a romantic relationship.

    Read more: The Purple Rose of Cairo: 10 curiosities and facts

    However, the situation becomes complicated when the actor who played Tom in the movie Gil Shepherd (played by Jeff Daniels in a dual role) comes to town to investigate the disappearance of his character. Gil is initially dismissive of Cecilia but he eventually becomes attracted to her as well.

    The film explores themes of escapism, reality and the relationship between fiction and reality. It poses the question of what happens when the line between fantasy and reality becomes blurred. It also touches on the power of cinema and how it can provide a temporary escape from the struggles of real life.

    The film was well-received by critics and audiences alike, with many praising its whimsical and imaginative storyline, as well as its thoughtful exploration of its central themes. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and it remains a beloved entry in Woody Allen's filmography.

  5. Zelig

    Zelig"Zelig" is a 1983 mockumentary directed and written by Woody Allen, who also stars in the film. The movie is set in the 1920s and 30s and tells the story of Leonard Zelig (Allen) a man who has the ability to transform his appearance and personality to blend in with those around him. Zelig becomes a national sensation and as his fame grows, he catches the attention of Dr. Eudora Fletcher (Mia Farrow), a psychiatrist who becomes fascinated with his case.

    Read more: Zelig: 10 Curiosities and Facts

    The film uses a blend of documentary-style footage and fictional reenactments to create a satirical commentary on the power of conformity and the media's influence on society. The film's central theme is the idea that people will do anything to fit in even at the expense of their own identity.

    The movie was praised for its innovative use of special effects to place Allen's character in old newsreels and photographs alongside real historical figures. The film was also noted for its sharp wit blending comedy and social commentary seamlessly.

    "Zelig" was a commercial and critical success, receiving two Academy Award nominations for Best Cinematography and Best Costume Design. The film's influence can be seen in later mockumentaries such as "Forrest Gump" and "I Tonya."


Famous Quotes by Woody Allen

Woody is widely known for his unique perspective on humor and philosophy, and his wit shines brightly in these ten famous one-liners.

10 famous quotes by Woody Allen