Woody Allen’s Five Most Underrated Films

Oliver Lunn

The universe is expanding. Relationships are like sharks. New York City really is a knock out. Ingmar Bergman is the greatest director there ever was. 

OK, in the universe of Woody Allen, we all know how groundbreaking and timeless Annie Hall (1977) and Manhattan (1979) are, don’t we, so there’s not really much point in arguing about their permanent place in a Top 5 Best Woody Allen Movies list. What's more important right now, we think, is arguing about the unsung greats.

So ahead of the release of Woody's Blue Jasmine (out in Canada this week), we've put together a list of the director's five most underrated films. Care to disagree with our picks? Let it all out in the comments below. 

1. Another Woman (1988)

Two all-time acting greats, Gena Rowlands and Gene Hackman, teamed up with Woody in the late-'80s for one of his greatest and most underrated films. Again exploring infidelity among middle class New Yorkers, Allen has Rowlands play a writer who rents an apartment directly opposite a psychiatrist's office, where she eavesdrops on profoundly intimate details of people's lives, making her see her own life anew. With an exceptionally fine cast and compelling subject matter, this is, hands down, Woody's most underrated film.

2. September (1987) 

Prior to Another Woman, Allen made another Bergman-inspired drama set over one rainy night in one single location. It oozes Roman Polanski-style claustrophobia and squeezes its characters – again unfaithful to one another – into a house where they're forced to confront their deepest emotions. We don't think we've seen Mia Farrow cry this much on screen EVER. Another must-see Woody. 

3. Stardust Memories (1980)

Woody Allen doesn't really beat around the bush when it comes to referencing other films (the most explicit being the references to his beloved Ingmar Bergman). But not content with referencing just one scene from one favourite, Allen here goes all-out in referencing Federico Fellini's 8 1/2 (1963). Is it a rip-off? Is it a parody? Is it an homage? Whatever it is, Allen's twin interests in comedy and gloomy, death-enquiring drama come to the fore for another unforgettable, self-reflexive Woody flick. 

4. Deconstructing Harry (1997)

Among the many reasons why we rate this one is the classic "out of focus" scene. We don't mean that Allen shot an entire scene out of focus; we mean that one of the characters (played by Robin Williams) appears out of focus and even acknowledges it himself. We don't think an existential crisis has been so humorously portrayed in an Allen film. And that's saying something. On a side note, check out the incongruous use of the Pixie's 'La La Love You' in the trailer. What happened to Cole Porter? Did Woody really approve this?

5. Husbands and Wives (1992)

This is perhaps the one on our list that's earned the most recognition, but not, we think, as much as it deserves. In addition to the fantastic performances from Mia Farrow, Judy Davis, Sydney Pollack and Juliette Lewis, this gem clings on to the coattails of Manhattan, with its nebulous world of analysts, intellectuals, cheaters and life-questioning New Yorkers. (This would be on our Top 10 Woody Allen Movies list, for sure.)

Follow Oliver on Twitter: @OliverLunn

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