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
International

'Barack Obama cheats on Michelle' claims Japanese politician…

A senior Japanese politician has marred Barack Obama's official visit to Tokyo with bizarre claims that the President cheats on his wife Michelle. Kazuyuki Hamada,…

International

British Royal family devastated by freak NY death…

The British royals have been left devastated by the death of Mark Shand, younger brother of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, after a freak fall in…

Local

VIDEO: Police seek suspect in molotov cocktail attack…

Police released surveillance video on Wednesday in hopes of tracking down a man who threw a molotov cocktail inside a Brooklyn corner store.

Local

City Council budget asks for 1,000 additional NYPD…

Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito unveiled the City Council's budget priorities on Wednesday, including the extra cops for the NYPD at a cost of $94.3 million.

Television

‘Survivor: Cagayan’ recap: Episode 9

It was only an hour-long episode, but there's a lot to cover this week. The drama of Survivor strikes again as the identity of the…

Television

TV watch list, Wednesday, April 23: 'Suburgatory,' 'Modern…

'Suburgatory' The men of "Suburgatory" go camping and Tessa mentors a social outcast in a Miss Chatswin contest, which brings her, once again, into conflict…

The Word

The best lines from Oprah's ex-stepmother's Daily Mail…

Oprah’s ex-stepmother, Barbara Winfrey, is out for revenge.

Books

A debut novel about fate, love and moving…

Pia Padukone talks about her debut novel, "Where Earth Meets Water."

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24…

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24 version

NFL

Giants 2014 regular season schedule

The Giants will play five prime-time games — against the Lions, Redskins, Eagles, Colts and Cowboys.

MLB

Jets 2014 regular season schedule

The Jets will play three prime-time games — against the Bears, Patriots and Dolphins — as well as a CBS national game in Week 2 at Green Bay.

NBA

Phil Jackson talked to Steve Kerr, pushes for…

Knicks president Phil Jackson spoke to the media for the first time since firing head coach Mike Woodson on Monday.

Style

Pippa Middleton's Etsy pick: Golden Thread Jewelry

Get a look at the jewelry Pippa Middleton loves and find out how you can buy it too.

Parenting

What every parent needs to know to get…

Mom and author of "Small Talk," Tracey Blake, shares her five practical tips to help you develop your children's language skills.

Sex

Subway crush: Meet your soulmate on your commute

Read about a couple who has been 40 years after meeting on the train.

Tech

Happy birthday, Game Boy! The handheld console turns…

Nintendo's Game Boy turns 25 this week. To commemorate, we look at some of its better games, like "Tetris" and "The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening."