Thursday, October 29, 2015

1977: Diane Keaton for Annie Hall

In this Best Picture winner, Diane Keaton plays the title character, a nightclub singer in an on-and-off relationship with Woody Allen, I mean Alvy Singer.

I have mixed feelings about this movie. On the one hand, it's kind of fun and interesting, especially when it breaks the fourth wall, but I really don't understand why it's so often cited as Allen's greatest work. I definitely would enjoy it more if Woody Allen wasn't such a creep, but I know that's not the only reason because I like some of his other films better than this one. That being said, Annie Hall has some great moments, and I appreciate that it's artistically different from most films, so I don't have that much of a problem with it winning Best Picture (I was certainly okay with it back when I was doing that project, since I needed a break from long, epic war films). What I really don't understand is why Diane Keaton won Best Actress.

It's not that she gives a bad performance or anything; it's just that she doesn't get to do much. Even though the film is named after her character, it mostly centers around Alvy. There are many scenes focused on Alvy's relationships with other women, whereas we only really get to see Annie through Alvy's perspective. They have a few interesting scenes together, and she has one memorable catch phrase, but I feel like when someone wins the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, her performance should consist of more than that. The only leading role in this film is Woody Allen's; everyone else is merely a supporting player in his fantasy. He gets all the interesting lines, and for much of the film she's basically reduced to his straight man. She has some good moments, but they're few and far between. All in all, Keaton gives a decent performance - she's convincing in the role, and even has relatively good chemistry with Allen (although I have a hard time figuring out what anyone sees in him) - but not really an Oscar-worthy one.

This was Diane Keaton's first Oscar nomination, and her only win so far. After this, she was nominated once in each of the next three decades: for 1981's Reds, 1996's Marvin's Room, and 2003's Something's Gotta Give. Will she continue the trend and receive a nomination this decade? Or even another win? We'll see.

Next up: Jane Fonda returns for a second win

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