Continuing the look at 50 years of Woody Allen in films brings us to the 1990’s working all the way back to the beginning. The 1990’s were quite good to Woody and his films. He was personally nominated for 5 Academy Awards and 2 of his actresses walked away with statues. He was truly in the middle of some great collaborations with his long time muse, Mia Farrow before a very public and breakup put an end to that in the middle of one their films. He then called upon his long time friend and previous muse, Diane Keaton to help him keep on track. Here is my list of his top 5 films of the 1990’s.
5. Mighty Aphrodite (1995)
Mira Sorvino plays the very flighty and and otherwise, oblivious prostitute, Linda. Lenny discovers his adopted son is a genius so he decides to track down his birth mother only to discover she is nothing like her son. This film was a bold choice by Allen for its subject matter and some of the frank dialogue about Linda’s profession. Sorvino clearly steals the picture and she would go on to win the Oscar for best supporting actress. Woody would once again be nominated for his writing
4. Bullets Over Broadway (1994)
Since he has been making films, Allen has been very good at mastering period films. Many times his nostalgia pictures as I call them, take place between the 20’s and 40’s and he captures them so well. Set in 1928 on Broadway, a young playwright has his play financed by mobsters in order to afford to put the production on. There is one catch though, the mobster wants his girlfriend to star in the play. Nominated for 7 Academy Awards and winning for Diane Wiest, her second and the second she won for her work with Woody. A well acted and very funny film that broods exactly what we have come to love about his films.
3. Sweet And Lowdown (1999)
Once again a period piece in which he displays his love of Jazz music. Set in the 1930’s, focusing on Emmet Ray, so wonderfully played by Sean Penn, a jazz guitarist who has big dreams but seems to fall in with the wrong people in his attempts to make it big. Sweet And Lowdown is one of Woody’s tributes to his love of jazz music and features a sensational soundtrack and brilliant guitar playing by Penn himself.
2. Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993)
After the ugly scandal and very public breakup with Mia Farrow, he needed something stable and familiar for his first movie, post Farrow. Enter Diane Keaton, the original muse and the one whom Woody helped make into a major star. This was her first major role with Allen since 1979’s Manhattan (she did have a brief came in 1987’s Radio Days). A married couple meet an older couple who live in their building, they soon suspect the husband has murdered his newly deceased wife. As Keaton’s character becomes increasingly obsessed with the situation Allen reluctantly gets sucked into the drama. This was the perfect movie to follow up after the tabloid mania that he had been enduring.
1. Husbands And Wives (1992)
Choosing Husbands And Wives as his best of the 90’s had a bittersweet feeling to it. This movie was much more drama than comedy and even more so considering the publicity surrounding it. The performances of Allen and Farrow deliver, despite their breakup in the middle of shooting, are wonderful. Farrow almost quit the picture near the end of filming, but was convinced to persevere and she did so gracefully and even memorably. The ironic subject of a couple breaking up and the effect it has on their close friends, serves as that bitter reminder of what was going on at the time. Nonetheless it once again garnered Allen an Oscar nomination for writing and Judy Davis received one for supporting actress.