'Blue Jasmine's Cate Blanchett Is Woody Allen's Best Female Lead Compared to These Others

Furthering the theory that Woody Allen makes a good film every two years, his latest, Blue Jasmine is receiving rave reviews upon its opening weekend. Much of the praise is for the film's lead, (Cate Blanchett), whom critics are calling one of Allen's strongest, most three-dimensional female characters in years. Here's a look back at Allen's sometimes-troubled, sometimes-kickass history with on-screen heroines. [Image: Sony Pictures Classics]

From Best to Worst

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Furthering the theory that Woody Allen makes a good film every two years, his latest, Blue Jasmine is receiving rave reviews upon its opening weekend. Much of the praise is for the film's lead, (Cate Blanchett), whom critics are calling one of Allen's strongest, most three-dimensional female characters in years. Here's a look back at Allen's sometimes-troubled, sometimes-kickass history with on-screen heroines. [Image: Sony Pictures Classics]

1BEST: Jasmine ('Blue Jasmine')

Jasmine — boozy, brash, and filterless — may not be the most likable of Woody Allen's characters, but she's certainly one of the most fully realized. Like any real woman, she's full of contradictions, and brought to wonderfully messy life by Cate Blanchett. [Image: Sony Pictures Classics]

2BEST: Annie ('Annie Hall')

Has there ever been a more three-dimensional woman featured in the movies? Annie Hall (Diane Keaton) is frustratingly, wonderfully complex, veering back and forth from loathsome to lovable at warp speed. [United Artists]

3BEST: Lee, Holly and Hannah ('Hannah and her Sisters')

Hannah and Her Sisters' is arguably one of Allen's best ever films, thanks in major part to the creation of the three central women. Each one is vibrant and realized, and make an already great movie even greater. [Image: Orion Pictures]

4BEST: Maria Elena ('Vicky Cristina Barcelona')

Maria Elana (Penelope Cruz) may not be the most stable of Woody Allen's female characters, but she's definitely the most fun to watch. She's crazy, yes, but not a caricature, and she's brought to fantastically vivid life by Cruz. [Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer]

5BEST: Tracy ('Manhattan')

Tracy is not the typical Woody Allen romantic lead — she's 17, after all — but she embodies the same complexity that defines many of his female protagonists. She wavers between innocence and maturity, and ultimately is a bigger, more important influence on Allen than he ever could have been for her. [Image: United Artists]

6BEST: Sonja ('Love and Death')

Another Diane Keaton lead, another fully-realized female role. In Love and Death, Allen's 1975 Napoleonic Era comedy, the character of Sonja becomes one of the director's most developed, and thus most interesting, female protagonists. [Image: United Artists]

1WORST: Nola and Chloe ('Match Point')

It's not that the female characters in Match Point, Allen's 2005 London-set thriller, are badly drawn. It's just that compared to how wonderfully complex the film's men are, the women come across as flat and simple. [Image: DreamWorks]

2WORST: Inez ('Midnight in Paris')

There's a lot to love about Midnight in Paris, one of Allen's most critically acclaimed and financially successful films ever, but the development of the female characters is not one of them. Inez (Rachel McAdams) is almost cartoonishly one-dimensional, and while some of the other women, such as Kathy Bates' Gertude Stein, have a little more life to them, none of the females are given much in the way of complexity. [Image: Sony Pictures Classics]

3Ellie and Lori ('Hollywood Ending')

In Hollywood Ending' it's not just the female characters who feel underwritten. Pretty much every person in the movie suffers from a severe lack of realistic personality. [Image: DreamWorks]