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The golden girls in Woody Allen’s world

By Ruthe Stein
San Francisco Chronicle

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  • Woody’s golden girls

    Role are supporting unless noted as lead:

    Samantha Morton, “Sweet and Low”

    Mira Sorvino, “Mighty Aphrodite” (won)

    Dianne Wiest, “Bullets Over Broadway” (won) and Hannah and Her Sisters” (won)

    Mariel Hemingway, “Manhattan”

    Penélope Cruz, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” (won)

    Diane Keaton, lead, “Annie Hall” (won)

    Jennifer Tilly, “Bullets Over Broadway”

    Maureen Stapleton, “Interiors”

    Geraldine Page, lead, “Interiors”

    Judy Davis, “Husbands and Wives”

    Cate Blanchett, lead, “Blue Jasmine”

    Sally Hawkins, “Blue Jasmine”



Short of discovering the director is your long-lost uncle, the surest way for an actress to score an Oscar nomination is to appear in a Woody Allen movie.

In the 49 movies Allen has directed, 13 performances by his actresses have been rewarded with Academy Award nominations. Four of these took home the gold: Diane Keaton won for best actress in “Annie Hall,” and Penélope Cruz (“Vicky Christina Barcelona”) and Mira Sorvino for best supporting actress (“Mighty Aphrodite”). Dianne Wiest won best supporting for “Bullets Over Broadway” and “Hannah and Her Sisters.”

This means that nearly one out of every four Allen films results in a nod for his leading or supporting lady. This statistic is a bit skewed because, in some instances, two actresses have been nominated from the same movie, as is currently true with Cate Blanchett in the best actress competition and Sally Hawkins in the supporting category for “Blue Jasmine.” Hawkins’ recognition came as a surprise, but not to anyone who understands the force of Allen’s imprimatur.

If you factor in all the actors nominated for Allen’s films – he is one of them, for “Annie Hall” – the number of nods climbs to 18. An impressive number, but still only half the record of 36 set by director William Wyler (“The Best Years of Our Lives,” “Ben-Hur”). Allen created every one of the characters that led to Oscar nominations. In a business not known for catering to actresses, especially as they age, Allen is practically a one-man employment agency for women.

When Blanchett won the Screen Actors Guild award last month for “Blue Jasmine,” she thanked Allen “for writing role after role after role after role for women, and then giving us the space to do them.”

He gives a wide berth to his actresses to come up with their own ideas. Blanchett and Hawkins felt they weren’t given enough information about the relationship between the sisters they play, so they created their own back story, one of a deep love for each other – but a propensity to fight sent them off to different coasts.

Allen’s new movie, “Magic in the Moonlight,” is a 1920s romantic comedy set on the French Riviera that stars Colin Firth and Emma Stone. Advice to Stone: Clear out your calendar for early 2015 – you could be chasing an Oscar.

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