Where does ‘Blue Jasmine’ rank among Woody Allen’s films?

Woody Allen shakes hands with the great beyond in "Love and Death," his best ever film.
Woody Allen hangs out with the Grim Reaper in “Love and Death,” his best film to date.

It’s that time of year again — that is, when Woody Allen releases his annual film. The exact time of year fluctuates. (In the ‘90s, it was always in the fall, in time for Oscars. For the last few years he’s been an improbable summer movie filmmaker.) And whenever one of his new films is released, it’s time to do that thing when you sum up his career, looking back over his rather daunting body of work — a film per year, with few exceptions, since 1969! — and realize that, hey, the entire cinematic body of work by Woody Allen isn’t at all bad. In fact, it’s comparable to the (other) greats!

Jordan Hoffman over at film.com has done a terrific film-by-film ranking of Woody’s 43 1/3 films, though he also includes some that he only wrote and/or acted in, like “What’s New, Pussycat?,” “Play It Again, Sam” and “The Front,” two of which are as terrific as many of Woody’s films. (It feels weird calling him “Allen” — which is, in fact, his actual first name — and especially “Mr. Allen,” a la The New York Times.) It’s a great round-up, one not afraid to mount cogent defenses of such runs like “Shadows and Fog” and “Another Woman.”

And here, without any neurotic self-deprecation, is ours. (Note: This is only theatrically released films, not TV work, including the impossible to find “Men of Crisis: The Harvey Wallinger Story” — which, if anyone has a line on…)

Stone-Cold Masterpiece
1. “Love and Death” (1975)
2. “Manhattan” (1979)
3. “Bananas” (1971)
4. “Annie Hall” (1977)
5. “Sleeper” (1973)

Near-Masterpiece
6. “Radio Days” (1987)
7. “Hannah and Her Sisters” (1986)
8. “Broadway Danny Rose” (1984)
9. “The Purple Rose of Cairo” (1985)
10. “Crimes and Misdemeanors” (1989)
11. “Deconstructing Harry” (1997)
12. “Zelig” (1983)
13. “Manhattan Murder Mystery” (1993)

Really, Incredibly Good
14. “Stardust Memories” (1980)
15. “Take the Money and Run” (1969)
16. “Everyone Says I Love You (1996)
17. “Husbands and Wives” (1992)
18. “Bullets Over Broadway” (1994)
19. “Blue Jasmine” (2013)
20. “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” (2006)
21. “Sweet and Lowdown” (1999)

Quite Solid
22. “Match Point” (2005)
23. “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask)” (1972)
24. “Another Woman” (1988)
25. “What’s Up, Tiger Lily?” (1966)
[+ 1/3 “Oedipus Wrecks,” his contribution to “New York Stories” (1989)]
26. “Mighty Aphrodite” (1995)
27. “A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy” (1983)

Problematic, But Mostly Positive
28. “Anything Else” (2003)
29. “Cassandra’s Dream” (2005)
30. “Interiors” (1978)
31. “To Rome, With Love” (2012)
32. “Midnight in Paris” (2011)
33. “Shadows and Fog” (1991)

Problematic, With Less Merit — But Some
34. “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger” (2010)
35. “Whatever Works” (2009)
36. “Celebrity” (1998)
37. “Hollywood Ending” (2002)
38. “Scoop” (2006)
39. “Small Time Crooks” (2000)

Pretty Bad — But, You Know, Not Entirely Worthless
40. “September” (1987)
41. “The Curse of the Jade Scorpion” (2001)
42. “Alice” (1990)
43. “Melinda and Melinda” (2004)

A few observations:

1. “Love and Death,” our No. 1, is not always cited as his best straight-up comedy, much less his best overall film. People tend to gravitate toward “Sleeper,” which is a touch more sophisticated and reined-in. But that’s why we love this: This movie is insane. It’s incredibly dense, with parodies of Dostoevsky and Ingmar Bergman and Sergei Eisenstein flying madly about. (It’s crazy this is one of his biggest moneymakers.)

However, it’s his last full-on comedy before the hybrid of comedy and drama that is “Annie Hall.” But in a way it’s just as serious as any of his serious films. It’s a statement of purpose: The film touches on the same ideas of morality in a universe that may not have a god or any kind of governing principles as “Crimes and Misdemeanors” (plus its not bad, in many ways more “cinematically” pleasurable knock-off “Match Point”). Everyone engages in heady philosophical debates, and though every exchange is played for laughs, there’s a seriousness there. It’s all a joke, but Woody’s anxious philosophical beliefs are all there.

2. The Naughts were not great for Woody. For awhile there, after three or four (and then five) subpar films, some even gave up on him. But looking back, it’s actually not worthless. Only two films are actively terrible, and even they have stray bits to recommend. Indeed, he hasn’t made a film that was “bad” in nine years (i.e., 2004’s “Melinda and Melinda,” which is pretty pathetic — but has some strong work from Radha Mitchell and others).

3. “Anything Else” has a lot of issues. But it’s one of his most revelatory films, in terms of what Woody says about the Woody Myth. There’s not a small amount of people — some of them Gentiles, including yours truly — who grew up idolizing Woody. Here, the lead is played by Jason Biggs, a Catholic (often cast as Jews) who takes on the role of a guy who looks up to a witty writer played by Woody Allen. But this version of the Woody character is a crank — a bitter misanthrope who has given up on humanity and, in one scene, prefers petty violence to the poison pen. Biggs discovers he is not someone to whom to aspire. (Lucky for him, Woody seems to have chilled out a bit in the ensuing decade, seeming to have come to grips with the idea of living in a godless universe.)

4. As he got into the 1980s, Woody — a one-time gagman who unexpectedly found himself treated as a serious artist — became a more profound thinker, and an even more trenchant observer of humanity. But some of us still prefer his gag-filled, energetic youthful work. The “early, funny” ones (as dubbed by the aliens, voiced by Woody himself, in the undervalued “Stardust Memories”) are some of the greatest, craziest comedies ever made — as dense and inventive as the films by the Marxes and other Vaudeville types. And is this the greatest sight gag ever? It gets our vote.

5. Man, how good is “Manhattan Murder Mystery?” One of the loveliest portraits of marriage (and of being old in NYC) ever.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels Kansas concert, condition unknown,…

Singer Miley Cyrus was hospitalized on Tuesday night after suffering what is believed to be 'a severe allergic reaction' to antibiotics medication. The 21-year-old Bangerz…

News

Explosions in new Boston Marathon bomb panic, 'twisted'…

A fresh Boston Marathon terror alert, which caused Bomb Squad officers to order an evacuation while two controlled explosions were carried out, was today being…

Local

Bomb squad detonates backpacks left at Marathon finish…

The Boston Marathon finish line has been evacuated and the Copley Square T station has been closed as police investigate a suspicious package, WBZ is reporting.

National

Reddit boosts news capabilities in social media turf…

By Jennifer SabaNEW YORK (Reuters) - Reddit, a website with a retro-'90s look and space-alien mascot that tracks everything from online news to celebrity Q&As,…

Entertainment

Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels Kansas concert, condition unknown,…

Singer Miley Cyrus was hospitalized on Tuesday night after suffering what is believed to be 'a severe allergic reaction' to antibiotics medication. The 21-year-old Bangerz…

Television

'Orphan Black's' Jordan Gavaris talks Felix's Season 2…

Jordan Gavaris plays heroically helpful foster sibling Felix to main clone Sarah on "Orphan Black." We talked to him about what’s ahead for him in…

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, April 15: 'New Girl,'…

'New Girl' Nick and Jess are hiding their breakup from the other loft residents. And Winston passes the police academy exam! That guy needed some…

Television

'Orphan Black' is back with 'crazy clone shenanigans'

“Orphan Black” is the little show that could. It had a few things working against it: a sci-fi premise, attracting an audience who had never…

MLB

MLB video highlights: White Sox beat Red Sox…

Red Sox fall on walk-off error to White Sox

NBA

NBA Draft Lottery day is May 20: Celtics…

NBA Draft Lottery day is Tuesday, May 20: Celtics percentage odds for a top overall pick

MLB

Opinion: Major League Baseball replay system shouldn't be…

Opinion: Major League Baseball replay system shouldn't be dumped just yet

NHL

Bruins - Red Wings preview: David Krejci ready…

Bruins - Red Wings preview: David Krejci ready to erupt once again in playoffs

Home

Steal home decorating tips from Nattystyle blogger Natalie…

Despite the towering ceilings and enviable exposed brick, it’s easy to see how Natalie Decleve’s apartment could be considered a challenge. Perched above the streets…

Home

How to plant a garden in the city

Small on space but big on gardening? You can still have that welcoming oasis of fresh air with an urban garden. Peter Smith, owner of…

Style

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show moving to England

It will still broadcast on CBS this fall.

Tech

Google Glass finally goes on sale for regular…

The Google Glass finally went on sale for regular people. It only costs $1,500.