10 Best Movies of Diane Keaton

She has been described as flaky, kook, but with a strong script in her hand she is anything but. Intelligent, sharp, she slips on characters like a well fitting glove, bringing them to life, film after film. Though she became known for her work in the films of Woody Allen, her performances as Kay in ‘The Godfather’ (1972) and ‘The Godfather Part II’ (1974) really placed her in the public eye.

Working with Woody Allen, she became an interesting and unique comic talent, breaking through in Play It Again, Sam (1972) and the under appreciated Love and Death (1975).  In 1977 she won the Academy Award for Annie Hall, but could have, and perhaps should have won as the promiscuous school teacher in Looking for Mr. Goodbar for director Richard Brooks. Allen had the courage to direct, write and act with Keaton in Annie Hall (1977), a film about their own relationship and the breakdown of it. She was remarkable in the film, funny, acerbic, a woman growing before our eyes.

From that point in her career she became one of the most revered and sought after actresses in movies. Interiors (1978) and the sublime Manhattan (1979) came next, both great films directed and written by Woody Allen. Warren Beatty cast her as Louise Bryant in his epic Reds (1981) for which she received some of the best reviews of her career. For her stunning performance in Shoot the Moon (1982) as a woman struggling with her husband leaving her for a younger woman. For me it remains her finest performance in a career filled with brilliant work. How she was not nominated for this remarkable work remains one of the great snubs in Academy recent history. Her work through the eighties and nineties simply furthered her reputation as one of the cinemas’ finest actresses. She consistently has challenged herself, even stepping behind the camera as director! Here is the list of 10 best Diane Keaton movies.

 

1. Shoot the Moon (1982)

As Faith, Keaton gives the finest performance of her career, capturing the angst, hurt and pain of being left for a younger woman. Seemingly happily married to George, a famous writer, she is content to raise her rambunctious kids. Left reeling with rage when he leaves, she slowly begins to pick up the pieces of her life and rebuild without George. Her sadness leaves us aching with her, her pain becomes our pain, with her we rage at George for what he has done to her, to their family. Far too often considered a comedic actress, Keaton has proven time and time again she is among the most formidable dramatic talents in movies. This is her greatest, and the Academy missed it, in every single category, though missing Keaton was their greatest crime.

 

2. Reds (1881)

Warren Beatty acted in, directed, produced and wrote this ambitious epic about the revolution in Russia as covered by John Reed and his wife Louise Bryant (Keaton). Each is a progressive writer with strong communist beliefs and ties, making them enemies of the government. Keaton is sublime as Bryant, an intellectual struggling to keep up with her husband’s political beliefs, eventually understanding the fervent chase of history as it happens. Crackling with rebellious intellect, she wants to learn, to grow as a person, and quickly earned a fearsome reputation among the Greenwich Village intellectuals, who initially saw Bryant as Reeds latest girl. A spiky, sometimes difficult character, she learns fast to keep up in the man’s world of journalism. It is a blazing, brilliant performance that anchors the massive picture, beautifully directed by Beatty.

 

3. Manhattan (1979)

In her portrayal of frosty, academic Mary, she again gave a Woody Allen its heart and soul. Having an affair with an unavailable married man, Mary finds herself drawn to Allen’s Issac, a writer himself having an affair with a seventeen year old high school girl. Mary becomes involved with Issac, but is still far too attached to her previous lover, too academic, pretentious and neurotic to really be with anyone. She seems unable to enjoy life, one wonders how she would ever enjoy love making instead trying to analyze it. It is a gutsy performance because Mary is not a likable character, but Keaton finds her soul.

 

 4. Looking For Mr. Goodbar (1977)

The actress gave two sensational performances in 1977, winning the Academy Award as Best Actress for Annie Hall (1977). I believe, and always have that her dark, troubling performance in Looking for Mr. Goodbar was the greater performance. As Teresa, a teacher of deaf six year olds, she leads a dangerous double life, cruising bars, picking up strange men, taking them home and making love with them, there love is not involved. With no self worth, Teresa wants to be wanted but goes about it all wrong, giving herself to anyone who wants her. She is in her own way, a sex addict. Keaton is stunning in the film, bringing to the screen a broken woman who in trying to heal herself, seals her own doom.

 

5. Annie Hall (1977)

Her signature role, her Oscar winning performance the character audiences think of at once when the name Diane Keaton comes up. The “la di dah” girl, with Grammy Hall back home and a strange death obsessed brother. She falls in love with Ally (Woody Allen) and grows as a person, eventually leaving him. But she misses him, and they get back together, only to Part again as she grows past him. Incredibly they remain friends, good friends, mirroring the real life relationship between Allen and Keaton. The film was a grave romantic comedy that broke conventions for the genre, adding a fourth rule, one that made the film bittersweet, when Annie leaves Alvy for good, each better for knowing each other.

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