Where does Woody Allen’s newest film, Blue Jasmine, rank among his all-time list of movies? We know it’s good, but how good is it when stacked up against every other film the writer/director has ever made? After seeing Blue Jasmine recently, that’s the question I sought out to answer.
As a die-hard fan — this 1979 Time Magazine featuring Woody hangs framed in my office — I’ve watched most of his films at least two or three times (if not a dozen). I’ve even watched all 45 minutes of “Every Woody Allen Stammer From Every Woody Allen Movie” on YouTube. I also recoil when someone mentions the name Soon-Yi Previn (or now Hoodie Allen). That’s when you know you’ve contracted a bad case of the Woodies. After checking out Blue Jasmine last weekend, I’ve now seen the entire filmography of Allan Stewart Konigsberg, aka Woody Allen, which I suppose makes me a qualified Woodyphile.
This isn’t based on box office success. Or even critical consensus. This is just one fan’s opinion. Here is how I rank Woody Allen’s entire 43 movie collection, from worst to best…
(This list is limited to feature films written and directed by Woody Allen. TV movies, shorts and screenplays he didn’t direct aren’t eligible)
43. Whatever Works (2009)
Ironically, it’s one of the few Woody Allen films that doesn’t work. Whatever. It’s still a 50% on Rotten Tomatoes (31 out of 43 are “Certified Fresh.”). That means half the critics still gave his very worst film a favorable review. Even bad Woody Allen movies are still pretty damn decent. Kinda puts his prolific filmmaking career into perspective.
42, 41, 40 and 39. The Curse of the Jade Scorpion (2001), Scoop (2006), Alice (1990) and You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (2010)
This flat foursome proves that Woody should steer clear of hokey parlor tricks like hypnosis and tarot cards. You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, in particular, had the potential to be a Match Point companion piece, but perhaps it ends where it should’ve started. Meanwhile, a scene-stealing performance by a young Charlize Theron makes The Curse of the Jade Scorpion worth a watch. Some of Allen’s fantasy efforts are among the greatest American films ever made, but these fantasy storylines feel like elongated skits.
38. September (1987)
He filmed this once, tossed that film in the trash, re-wrote the script and eventually remade it? How bad was it the first time around? Yikes.
37. Shadows and Fog (1991)
This one narrowly avoids falling in the bottom five due to its originality — it really doesn’t resemble anything else in the Woody canon. Nonetheless, it can’t avoid the human cinema curse that is Madonna. It was so mediocre that it bankrupted Orion Pictures. OK, not really, but they did go under right around the time of its release. Shadows and Fog likely worked much better when it was a stageplay called Death.
36. Hollywood Ending (2002)
Téa Leoni. George Hamilton. Treat Williams. Debra Messing. Is that a cast or a missing persons APB? Allen was forced to carry the entire film on his back, which is not his forte. Additionally, its clever ending came too late. At 114 minutes, what could’ve been a lampooning hit morphed into a snoozer of a satire. After doing some research, it appears this film had significant editing problems. It shows. Regardless, you can’t edit out a mediocre cast. Our Leoni going full Hillary Clinton with pantsuit after pantsuit. At least it featured this dialogue exchange, one of Allen’s funniest…
"Val: For God sakes, this is a woman I was married to for 10 years. We made love. I’d hold her head over the toilet bowl when she threw up. Lori: From making love with you?"
35. What’s Up, Tiger Lily? (1966)
A novelty act. About like going to see Master Pancake at the Alamo Drafthouse. Glad I experienced it, but the gimmick wears out its welcome rather quickly after you’ve experienced it a couple times.
34. Anything Else (2003)
On paper, Jason Biggs seemed like a perfect fit for a Woodyesque lead. In practice, the “pie-f**ker” couldn’t fit in the Woodman’s oxfords. Plus, Christina Ricci is just flat out annoying. I’m not jumping on its bandwagon just because Tarantino famously sung its praises. QT was just being quirky. I’d rather watch almost anything else from Allen’s filmography than this regurgitated dud.
33. Celebrity (1998)
Judy Davis putting on an acting clinic as per usual. More young Charlize… dancing with Anthony Mason (Allen is a life-long Knicks fan). Leo going absolutely apesh** for the first time onscreen. A young Sam Rockwell looking like this. Kenneth Branagh was almost Obi-Wan Kenobi. Instead he got the lead role in this middle-of-the-pack Woody title. Which makes sense, given that an average middle-aged man would have to use the force to bed all of those gorgeous women. Anyway, I inexplicably like this movie more than I should.
32, 31. A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy (1982), Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex (But Were Afraid To Ask) (1972)
Sex was always a trending topic in the world of Woody, but homeboy was especially horny until the age of 50. Both of these movies are fine one-night stands, but nothing worth falling head over heels for.
Counting down 30-11 after the jump…