Saturday, February 9, 2013

Oscar Month: Annie Hall (1977)

FILM: Annie Hall
YEAR: 1977
OSCARS: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Original Screenplay

Woody Allen has a long and storied career in Hollywood. He's been making popular films since the 1970's and he is still making Oscar nominated hits today, with his biggest hit ever, Midnight in Paris, being released last year and garnering tons of critical acclaim from the Academy. But it all really started back in 1977 with the release of Allen's Annie Hall, which was a critical hit and shockingly beat Star Wars at the Oscars (I guess that you can blame this film for the Academy's anti-blockbuster attitude). This film establishes Allen's blend of romance and neurotic comedy as his style and it does it in a really good picture.

Annie Hall tells the story of Alvy Singer (Allen), a neurotic New York-based comedian is dealing with his break-up with Annie Hall (Diane Keaton) over a year ago. The rest of the film chronicles the ups and downs of their relationship which include a record producer and Singer's neurotic insanity. Honestly, there is no story to Annie Hall. It truly is a chronicle of the relationship between Alvy and Annie.

Honestly, if you hear Annie Hall marketed as a comedy, it really isn't 100% true. Yes, it frequently is downright hilarious and has a ton of comedic elements but it really is more of a romance mixed with Allen's trademark comedy. It deserves to be in the same category as The Graduate and Silver Linings Playbook, films like that. I wouldn't say that The Graduate is necessarily a comedy. But it works as one and I could say the same thing about Annie Hall.

The acting is extremely good. Allen plays Woody Allen basically: if you have ever heard Allen describe himself or give his list of phobias, you know that he IS Alvy Singer. Singer is neurotic, paranoid, and a bit annoying and it is a great performance by Allen. But frankly, I don't know how much is acting. And I love how Keaton's performance is basically a reaction to Singer. It's a fantastic performance. There are also some weird cameos by other future stars such as Christopher Walken and Shelley Duvall, one of my least favorite actresses. Walken's is funny but Duvall's is stupid.

I honestly don't have much more to say about Annie Hall. It is a great film that is funny and fun to watch. It has a great, honest script and a duo of great performances. It is short at 1 hour and 33 minutes, but that is one of its pluses. It makes it short but sweet. Not all movies have to be two hour + epics. I really did enjoy this film and I think that it is definitely worth watching for anyone who likes movies. I can't really say whether or not it should have beaten Star Wars. Annie Hall might be the more artistic and interesting film but Star Wars is just such a great movie and it was a massive cultural phenomenon at the time and it still is. 

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