Will Woody Allen ever escape the past? Things were looking so good for the misunderstood movie auteur. After the decade of annually ignored (and frequently forgettable) movies that was the naughties, Allen re-found a critical and commercial stride – aged 75 – with 2011’s Midnight in Paris, which broke his own US box office records and picked up an Oscar for best screenplay. The (very public) personal problems which had been blamed for his previously disappointing output seemed to have evaporated; it was okay to like Woody Allen again.
Things were going especially well in 2014: Allen’s latest Blue Jasmine gained three Oscar nods and saw Cate Blanchett pick up a Best Actress Golden Globe, while Allen himself was honoured with the Cecil B DeMille Award at the same ceremony – in absentina, of course collected on behalf of Allen by former partner and muse Diane Keaton. Finally, after everything, Hollywood seemed to have reluctantly re-accepted Woody Allen into its folds.
And then the storm struck. The legal accusations first made more than two decades ago suddenly resurfaced, spoiling the Woody party and raising questions about whether the 78-year-old deserved this recent outpouring of affection.
One thing however is clear: Whatever your opinion of the man, Woody Allen has made some of the most compelling, inventive and simply unique movies of the past four decades. As, oddly, Allen is once more at the centre of a storming froth of both critical praise and tabloid controversy, we look back at some of his best onscreen successes – without which, we wouldn’t be talking about Woody in the first place.Words: Rob Garratt
Read our interview with Woody Allen on Blue Jasmine