Woody Allen

With at least four distinct phases throughout his long career, writer-director-actor Woody Allen was one of the few American filmmakers rightly labeled an auteur. From the irreverent absurdity of his early satires like "Bananas" (1971) and "Sleepers" (1973) to his chronicles of neurotic New Yorkers in "Annie Hall" (1977), "Manhattan" (1979) and "Hannah and Her Sisters" (1986), Allen was one of the most influential filmmakers of the late 20th century. Unique among filmmakers, Allen made highly personal films with mainstream money while managing to exert creative control over the product - all the while earning a high level of critical respect and numerous Academy Awards. His creative fires never extinguished, as he directed dramas like "Interiors" (1978), morally ambiguous tragicomedies like "Crimes and Misdemeanors" (1989) and period comedies like "Bullets Over Broadway" (1994). Even when stepping outside of his comfort zone with "Everyone Says I Love You" (1996) and "Sweet and Lowdown" (1999), Allen had the creative acumen to pull it off.