Denouement: Every Woody Allen Movie, Ranked. The Projector’s Definitive List(s).

Will Leitch and Tim Grierson
The Projector

As you -- a fanatical reader of The Projector, with the sort of vast-but-ultra-specific, obsessively self-referential fandom that puts "Community"'s online sewing circle to shame --  would probably suspect, we were rather agog by the "American Masters: Woody Allen" on PBS the last two nights. (To be fair, Leitch isn't quite through the second one yet; he's been a bit busy.) It is fair to say The Projector was the target audience. The two lifelong friends who edit this site, the summer before they each left for college, rented every Woody Allen movie and watched them all in a row, a Woody marathon, as a last embrace of youthful pursuits before heading into the land of adulthood and responsibility. That would be the worst coming-of-age film of all time, but we did it. We take the guy seriously.

So we figured what better time than now -- when Woody not only is being feted in a surprisingly revealing and comprehensive documentary, but also might earn his seventh Best Director Oscar nomination for "Midnight In Paris" -- for each of us to rank all 41 Woody Allen movies, in order of preference. We've seen all of them, of course; we've seen most of them more than once, and a few more than 10 times. This exercise is long overdue. We've been mentally doing this for 20 years anyway. It's time to make it official.

A few caveats of eligibility:

The films must have been directed by Woody Allen. Merely writing or starring in the film doesn't count. So no "Play It Again, Sam," no "The Front," no "Scenes From a Mall," no weird Alfonso Arau films with Sharon Stone and Woody in a cowboy hat everyone has agreed to pretend didn't happen.

TV movies don't count. Sorry, "Don't Drink The Water," with your hilarious cast of Michael J. Fox and Blossom.

Shorts don't count. This mostly just eliminates Woody's short film in "New York Stories."

All right, we got it? Good. Here goes.

The Definitive Ranking of Woody Allen Films in Order of Quality, by Will Leitch

1. "Husbands and Wives," 1992.
It's the only one I'd honestly consider perfect. I can't believe I was so lucky to have this be the first Woody Allen movie I saw on the big screen.

2. "Deconstructing Harry," 1997.
Deep down, I sort of wonder if this is the one Woody considers his masterpiece.

3. "Manhattan," 1979.

4. "Love and Death," 1975.
The funniest Woody Allen movie, and a legitimate stylistic breakthrough for Woody.

5. "Crimes and Misdemeanors," 1989.
6. "Hannah and Her Sisters," 1986.
7. "The Purple Rose of Cairo," 1985.

8. "Annie Hall," 1977.
I never quite trust someone who calls themselves a Woody enthusiast but lists this as their favorite Woody film.

9. "Midnight In Paris," 2011.
I think it'll hold up, I really do.

10. "Manhattan Murder Mystery," 1973.
Sort of impossible to imagine Mia Farrow in this, as was initially intended.

11. "Bullets Over Broadway," 1994.

12. "Sweet and Lowdown," 1999.
Still kind of amazing Sean Penn meshed so well in a Woody movie.

13. "Everyone Says I Love You," 1996.
We'll never seen the three-hour-plus cut, but I bet it's amazing.

14. "Sleeper," 1973.
15. "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," 2008.
16. "Broadway Danny Rose," 1984.
17. "Bananas," 1971.

18. "Another Woman," 1988.
Worth a closer look, if you just write it off as another Bergman knockoff.

19. "Radio Days," 1987.
20. "Interiors," 1978.
21. "Anything Else," 2003.
22. "Take the Money and Run," 1969.

23. "Zelig," 1983.
Sorry: As much of a cultural touchstone as it is, the film is sort of one-joke and drags like crazy for its last half hour.

24. "Match Point," 2005.
25. "Mighty Aphrodite," 1995.
26. "Melinda and Melinda," 2004.

27. "Cassandra's Dream," 2007.
It's a safe bet that, other than "What's Up Tiger Lily?" this is probably the Woody film the fewest people have seen.

28. "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger," 2010.
29. "Alice," 1990.

30. "Small Time Crooks," 2000.
Elaine May is kind of great in this movie.

31. "Scoop," 2006.
32. "Shadows and Fog," 1992.

33. "Stardust Memories," 1980.
Yes, yes, I get it, I get it. I still have a hard time suffering this movie.

34. "Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex (But Were Afraid To Ask)," 1972.
35. "Hollywood Ending," 2002.
36. "September," 1987.
37. "What's Up Tiger Lily?" 1966.
38. "Celebrity," 1998.
39. "A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy," 1982.

40. "Whatever Works," 2009.
A moldy script and, sorry, Larry David should never be asked to deliver a long monologue.

41. "The Curse of the Jade Scorpion," 2001
The one film that had me worried he might have "lost it." He found it.

The Definitive Ranking of Woody Allen Films in Order of Quality, by Tim Grierson

1. "Manhattan," 1979.
Easily one of the most beautifully photographed films ever, thanks to ace cinematographer Gordon Willis. Plus, the perfect balance of comedy, drama and romance that Woody has always sought to achieve. I never miss a chance to see it on the big screen.

2. "Crimes and Misdemeanors," 1989.

3. "Hannah and Her Sisters," 1986.
He hates the ending, thinks it's too hopeful. Nobody who loves this movie agrees with him.

4. "Husbands and Wives," 1992.
OK, fine, Marisa Tomei did not in fact "steal" the Best Supporting Actress Oscar that should have gone to Judy Davis. But, seriously, what a performance. Honestly, though, everyone in this film is terrific.

5. "Annie Hall," 1977
6. "The Purple Rose of Cairo," 1985.

7. "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," 2008.
The best film he's made in the last decade -- and one of his most melancholy. It's a pretty heartbreaking story about how hard it is to live in a fantasy, a theme Woody has explored plenty in his career.

8. "Radio Days," 1987.
Woody was on such a roll in the '80s that people overlook how funny and moving this film is.

9. "Broadway Danny Rose," 1984.
10. "Another Woman," 1988.
11. "Deconstructing Harry," 1997.
12. "Love and Death," 1975.
13. "Sleeper," 1973.
14. "Manhattan Murder Mystery," 1993.

15. "Cassandra's Dream," 2007.
Colin Farrell and Ewan McGregor are both excellent in it. And the Philip Glass score is superb. My man Richard Brody gets this film exactly right.

16. "Interiors," 1978.
17. "Zelig," 1983.
18. "Melinda and Melinda," 2004.
19. "Bananas," 1971.

20. "Celebrity," 1998.
C'mon, folks, Kenneth Branagh isn't that bad in it.

21. "Bullets Over Broadway," 1994.
22. "Sweet and Lowdown," 1999.

23. "Anything Else," 2003.
I don't love it as much as Quentin Tarantino does, but it is pretty underrated. Contains one of Woody Allen's strongest, weirdest performances.

24. "Small Time Crooks," 2000.

25. "Match Point," 2005.
You know how some people who never watch "Saturday Night Live" are always the first to declare a recent episode the funniest ever? That's how I feel about some folks who call "Match Point" Woody's comeback.

26. "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger," 2010.
27. "Take the Money and Run," 1969.

28. "Midnight in Paris," 2011.
C'mon, folks, it's not that good.

29. "Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex (But Were Afraid To Ask)," 1972
30. "Scoop," 2006.
31. "Shadows and Fog," 1992.
32. "Alice," 1990.
33. "Mighty Aphrodite," 1995.

34. "Everyone Says I Love You," 1996.
Just think how good it could have been if it was all as inspired as this:

35. "Whatever Works," 2009.

36. "Stardust Memories," 1980.
This is the one I most need to revisit. I haven't seen it in at least 15 years, but I remember what a sour taste it left in my mouth. Maybe I misread it?

37. "A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy," 1982.

38. "The Curse of the Jade Scorpion," 2001.
A nice ending in search of some reason to get there.

39. "Hollywood Ending," 2002.
I saw this opening weekend by myself in a theater that had two other people by themselves. One of the most depressing movie-going experiences of my life.

40. "September," 1987.

41. "What's Up, Tiger Lily?" 1966.
Imagine "Mystery Science Theater 3000" on a really off night. It was his first film as director. There was nowhere to go but up.