Discussions and debates over the greatest movie directors of all time are rarely fruitful. The criteria for what makes a good filmmaker, hell a good artist, is so wide ranging and abstract that to try to name a batch the deserve the label of “the best” is a bit of a fool’s errand. It’s a bit like asking who is the greatest human being of all time. What do you base it on?
If you were to base quality of direction on longevity, and persistence of quality, is there anyone who could match the career of Woody Allen? We are witnessing a filmmaker in his sixth decade of top tier movie production, with his latest, Blue Jasmine, set for a summer release. That’s close to fifty years of work. What’s more, since 1977 he has released a film basically every single year. It would be one thing if these were cruddy little short films, but his output has resulted in critical and box office hits right up to as recently as two years ago, with his smash hit Midnight in Paris, which nabbed him an Oscar some 35 years after his first win for Annie Hall. He has spent his life looking up to filmmakers like Ingmar Bergman and Federico Fellini, who enjoyed marvelous careers and created timeless masterworks, but despite his inability to replicate their cinematic style, Woody Allen has surely matched their prowess for establishing a unique brand of films that have guaranteed their place in the annals of filmmaking history. The key distinction with Allen is that for all we know, his best work is yet to come.
It’s impossible to identify ten films and declare them to be Woody Allen’s best, but here’s a list that does just that anyhow.
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