Match Point

  • Directors: Woody Allen
  • Producers: Letty Aronson, Gareth Wiley, Lucy Darwin
  • Writers: Woody Allen
  • Genres: Crime, Drama, Romance, Sport, Thriller
  • Actors: Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Scarlett Johansson, Emily Mortimer, Matthew Goode, Brian Cox, Penelope Wilton, Ewen Bremner, James Nesbitt, Rupert Penry Jones

When former tennis pro Chris Wilton begins a relationship with shy heiress Chloe Hewett after befriending her brother Tom, he finds his social and financial status vastly improved. However, once he has an affair with Tom’s ex-lover, American actress Nola Rice, he realizes that his new, luxurious lifestyle may be threatened.

Whatever Works

  • Directors: Woody Allen
  • Producers: Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum
  • Writers: Woody Allen
  • Genres: Comedy, Romance
  • Actors: Larry David, Evan Rachel Wood, Henry Cavill, Patricia Clarkson, Ed Begley Jr, Michael McKean

Boris Yelnikoff (Larry David), an eccentric, misanthropic University of Chicago graduate and chess teacher, rants with his friends about politics and anthropology. He breaks the fourth wall and monologues to the audience explaining his life in recent years: A few years ago, he wakes up in the middle of the night with a panic attack and jumps out the window, but lands on a canopy and survives with only a marked limp. He soon divorces his wife and virtually secludes himself from the world, criticizing everyone he meets for not having his level of intellect.

Years pass and Boris comes home one night to find Melodie, a simple-minded 21-year-old woman, (Evan Rachel Wood) lying on his doorstep. He reluctantly lets her in for a meal and soon she tells him her story that she ran away from her conservative Christian family in Mississippi. As she attempts to get to know him, he retaliates with sarcasm and insults. She asks if she can stay the night, which Boris eventually allows. For some time, and despite his friends’ skepticism, Boris allows Melodie to stay with him until she can find a job and support herself. Boris and Melodie soon go to various landmarks of New York City, and Melodie continues to harbor a primarily optimistic view of things, in contrast to Boris’ pessimism. Melodie develops a crush on Boris based on his mentality and intellectual strength despite their 40 year age difference and their varying cultures and intelligence.

Finally, Boris hosts a New Year’s Eve party, at which everyone is seen in their new relationships: Marietta with Kevin and Morgenstern, John with Howard, Melodie with Randy, and finally Boris with Helena. They all kiss and Boris tells the audience that you just have to find all the enjoyment that you can get out because you have to find “whatever works.”

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

  • Directors: Woody Allen
  • Producers: Letty Aronson, Jaume Roures, Stephen Tenenbaum, Gareth Wiley
  • Writers: Woody Allen
  • Genres: Drama, Romance
  • Actors: Javier Bardem, Rebecca Hall, Scarlett Johansson

Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) visit Barcelona for the summer, staying with Vicky’s distant relative Judy (Patricia Clarkson) and her husband, Mark Nash (Kevin Dunn). A narrator (voice of Christopher Evan Welch), present throughout the film, describes the two friends: Vicky is practical and traditional in her approach to love and commitment, and is engaged to the reliable but unromantic Doug (Chris Messina). She is in Barcelona getting her masters in “Catalan identity”. Cristina, on the other hand, is a nonconformist, spontaneous but unsure of what she wants from life or love.

At an art exhibition, they notice the artist Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem). Cristina is impressed with him at first sight, and grows intrigued when Judy and Mark tell the girls that the artist has suffered a publicly violent relationship with his ex-wife. Later that night, the girls notice him across the room in a restaurant. He approaches their table and quickly invites them to join him for the weekend in the city of Oviedo, in the small plane he flies himself, for sight-seeing, drinking wine, and (Juan Antonio hopes) making love. Cristina accepts the brazen offer almost at once, but Vicky refuses, strongly resenting his assumption that the two of them would agree to go to bed with him after less than five minutes’ acquaintance. She eventually decides to accompany her friend anyway, mainly as she says “to protect Cristina from making a big mistake”.

When Cristina returns from France, Vicky confesses the entire story to her. Cristina says she never knew that Vicky felt that way about Juan Antonio, and she (Cristina) wishes she could have helped her. Doug never learns the true version of events. As the three Americans return to the USA, Vicky goes back to her married life and Cristina remains where she started, not knowing what she wants, but knowing what she doesn’t. Since Vicky chooses to live her rigidly planned (a “perfect”) life, and Cristina chooses to live without making predetermined plans, they end where they began.

Hannah and Her Sisters

  • Directors: Woody Allen
  • Producers: Robert Greenhut
  • Writers: Woody Allen
  • Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance
  • Actors: Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, Maureen O Sullivan, Michael Caine, Barbara Hershey, Dianne Wiest, Lloyd Nolan, Max von Sydow, Daniel Stern

The story is told in three main arcs, with almost all of it occurring during a 12-month period beginning and ending at Thanksgiving parties hosted by Hannah (Farrow) and her husband, Elliot (Caine). Hannah serves as the stalwart hub of the narrative; her own story as a successful actress (a recent success as Nora in A Doll’s House) is somewhat secondary, but most of the events of the film connect to her.

An adulterous romance between Elliot and one of Hannah’s sisters, Lee (Hershey), provides the main romantic entanglement of the film. Elliot’s discontent with his wife’s self-sufficiency and resentment of her emotional strength causes him to look elsewhere. Lee has lived for five years with a reclusive artist, Frederick (von Sydow). She finds her relationship with Frederick no longer intellectually or sexually stimulating, in spite of Frederick’s professed interest in continuing to teach her. She leaves Frederick, much to his sorrow (for he has grown dependent upon her), and has a secret affair with Elliot lasting for several months.

Mickey, another of Allen’s neurotic characters, provides the comic relief. Parts of his story are scenes from his previous marriage to Hannah and his horrible date with the cocaine-addicted Holly (Hannah’s other sister, played by Wiest), shown in flashbacks. Mickey’s main story is one of a hypochondriac confronting the possibility of an actual serious disease. After a clean bill of health, it turns into a career-pausing existential crisis, and leads to unsatisfying experiments with religious conversion to Catholicism and Krishna Consciousness, before a long walk and the fortuitous opportunity to see again the Marx Brothers’ Duck Soup (part of the ‘joyous’ declaration of war sequence is featured) help to remind him why life is worth living. The revelation helps prepare him for a second date with Holly, which this time blossoms quickly (and mostly off-screen) into a relationship and marriage.

By the time of the film’s second Thanksgiving Lee has ended her affair with Elliot. In a final coda-like act, another year has elapsed and the film ends happily for the three sisters, now all married, and infertile Mickey has somehow impregnated his new wife Holly.

Crimes and Misdemeanors

  • Directors: Woody Allen
  • Producers: Charles H Joffe
  • Writers: Woody Allen
  • Genres: Comedy, Drama
  • Actors: Martin Landau, Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, Alan Alda, Anjelica Huston, Jerry Orbach

The film is set in New York City and follows two main characters: Judah Rosenthal (Landau), a successful ophthalmologist, and Cliff Stern (Allen), a struggling documentary filmmaker. The two men are each confronted with moral crises.

Judah’s crisis concerns his affair with a flight attendant Dolores Paley (Huston). After it becomes clear to her that Judah will not end his marriage, Dolores, scorned, attempts to inform his wife of their affair. Dolores’ letter to his wife Miriam (Claire Bloom) is intercepted and destroyed by Judah, but she sustains the pressure on him with her threats of revelation. She is also aware of some questionable financial moves Judah has made.

Early in the film, he confides in a patient — Ben (Waterston), a rabbi who is rapidly losing his eyesight. Ben advises openness and honesty between Judah and his wife, but Judah does not wish to imperil his marriage.

Desperate, Judah turns to his brother, Jack (Orbach), a small-time gangster, who hires a hitman to kill Dolores. Later, before her corpse is discovered, Judah retrieves letters and other items from her apartment in order to cover his tracks. Stricken with guilt though, Judah turns to the religious teachings he had rejected, believing for the first time that a just God is watching him and passing judgement.

The film ends with a narration by Prof. Levy, who had earlier committed suicide, about the interplay between morality and happiness.

Manhattan

  • Directors: Woody Allen
  • Producers: Charles H Joffe
  • Writers: Woody Allen, Marshall Brickman
  • Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance
  • Actors: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Michael Murphy, Mariel Hemingway, Meryl Streep, Anne Byrne

The film opens with a montage of images of Manhattan accompanied by George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. TV writer Isaac Davis (Allen), is introduced as a man writing a book about his love for New York City. He is a twice-divorced 42-year-old dealing with the women in his life who gives up his unfulfilling job as a comedy writer.

He is dating Tracy (Mariel Hemingway), a 17-year old high school girl. His best friend Yale (Michael Murphy), married to Emily (Anne Byrne) is having an affair with Mary Wilkie (Diane Keaton); her ex-husband and former teacher Jeremiah (Wallace Shawn) also appears. Isaac’s lesbian ex-wife, Jill (Meryl Streep), is writing a confessional book about their marriage.

When Isaac meets Mary, he immediately takes a dislike to her. Isaac runs into her again at an Equal Rights Amendment fund raising event at the Museum of Modern Art and he walks her home. Mary asks to go out with him for a Sunday afternoon when Yale is unavailable. They stay out all night until dawn culminating in the iconic shot of Queensboro Bridge.

Isaac continues his relationship with Tracy. He also encourages her to pursue an educational opportunity in London. In another iconic scene, at Tracy’s request, they go on a carriage ride through Central Park.

Unable to catch a taxi, he runs for 2 hours to tell Tracy he loves her. He catches her just as she is leaving for England. He says that she doesn’t have to go and that he doesn’t want that special thing about her to change. She replies that the plans have already been made and reassures him that not everyone gets corrupted. He gives her a slight smile segueing into shots of the skyline with Rhapsody in Blue playing again.

Annie Hall

  • Directors: Woody Allen
  • Producers: Charles H Joffe, Jack Rollins
  • Writers: Woody Allen, Marshall Brickman
  • Genres: Comedy, Romance
  • Actors: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Tony Roberts, Carol Kane, Paul Simon, Shelley Duvall

The film is set in New York City and Los Angeles.

Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) is a neurotic comedian, attempting to maintain a relationship with the seemingly ditzy but exuberant Annie (Diane Keaton). The film chronicles their relationship over several years, intercut with various imaginary trips into each other’s history (Annie is able to “see” Alvy’s family when he was only a child, and likewise Alvy observes Annie’s past sexual relationships). In the first flashback showing Alvy as a child, we learn he was raised in Brooklyn; his father’s occupation was operating a bumper cars concession and the family home was located below the Thunderbolt roller coaster on Coney Island.

After many arguments and reconciliations, the two realize they are fundamentally different and split up. Annie moves in with Hollywood record company executive Tony Lacey (Paul Simon); Annie likes California, but Alvy hates it. Alvy soon realizes he still loves her after seeing Children of Paradise (Les Enfants du Paradis) and tries to convince her to return with him to New York. He fails and, resignedly, returns home to write a play about their relationship, recycling the conversation just exchanged but ending with him winning Annie back.

Later, with Annie back in New York, the two are able to meet on good terms as friends, now with different lovers. Alvy ends the film by musing about how love and relationships are something we all require despite their often painful and complex nature.