A man of many talents – comedian, actor, playwright and director – Woody Allen is the winner of four Academy Awards and 24 time nominee. By dramatising comedy and making drama comical, Allen brings to life the emotions that so very many people struggle to exhibit, let alone understand.
One of Allen’s most classic films, Manhattan is emblematic of the director’s ability to seamlessly blend the culture and ambiance of a city with a personal story. In many of his films, the city acts as a protagonist, shaping the narrative and providing a distinctive character of its own. In Manhattan, the city of New York serves as a backdrop to a complex yet memorable story of hapless love and human nature. By turns dark and comic, Manhattan was critically acclaimed, and has become a classic both of Allen’s oeuvre, and of American cinema in general.
Midnight in Paris (2011)
Exploring themes of nostalgia and modernism in a fantasy tale about the 1920s bohemian Paris, Midnight in Paris may be one of Allen’s later works but is the most commercially successful of his career. Set within different periods of Paris, Gil (Owen Wilson) plays a disillusioned screenwriter and on a trip with his fiancée Rachel McAdams. Alone one night, he is miraculously transported to Paris in the 1920s and here the real story begins. Midnight in Paris uses wit and sophistication to exhibit a beguiling fantasy, and is entirely successful in engaging its audience.
Match Point (2005)
The dark reality of wealth and its ambitious and overwhelming ability to exert control over man’s moral compass is explored in Match Point. Society, lust, greed and desperation are all intricately dramatized into a carefully crafted masterpiece set in London. Chris Wilton, played by Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, is a retired and financially distraught man who takes on the job of a tennis coach, and falls in love with the sister of one of his students. As their relationship flourishes, Chris becomes addicted to the finer realities of life. Later sparks fly between him and Nora, a struggling American actress; unable to contain his lust for her and unable to let go of the high life Chris finds himself making dark and terrible decisions.
Small Time Crooks (2000)
Released in the year 2000, Small Time Crooks was directed and written by Woody Allen, starring himself and Elaine May, Tracey Ullman and Hugh Grant. Telling the tale of hapless criminal Ray – played by Woody Allen – and a bank job that goes awry, the film was a critical success, and was nominated for several awards. Slick, smooth and comical, this is a timeless film which will forever be a classic of the movie industry.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)
Featuring an all-star cast of Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Scarlett Johansson and Rebecca Hall, Vicky Cristina Barcelona is one of Allen’s most charming and captivating films. The story centres on Johansson and Hall’s characters, two close yet very different friends, whose summer in Barcelona becomes a journey of self-discovery and an exploration of love and passion. Told throughout with wry humour and warmth, and set against the stunning backdrop of Barcelona, Vicky Cristina Barcelona is an unforgettable depiction of Allen’s skill in effortlessly blending place and character.
Annie Hall (1977)
Possibly the most widely loved and cherished of his films, Annie Hall tells us that our ideas of what a relationship should be are often very different to that of reality. The film sustains an underlying emphasis on the absurdity and necessity of love against the backdrop of New York. It continuously cherishes and dismisses love by relaying back and forth between fantasy and reality. Annie played by Diane Keaton and Alvy played by none other than Woody Allen give the audience an entertaining but heartfelt performance.
Blue Jasmine (2013)
This relatively recent box office success is a dark comedy drama relating the story of a fallen Manhattan socialite. Played by Cate Blanchett, she mesmerizes the audience with her award winning performance (Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture.) Like with many of his movies, Allen has created a juxtaposition of the past and present, keeping the audience on edge before easing out in to a more linear chronology. In a constant battle between her former life and her new one, the audience develops a sense of understanding and sympathy for Jasmine the protagonist.