Diane Keaton is one of the most iconic performers of our time. She is swimming in awards for her numerous performances over the years and has been nominated for multiple Golden Globes and Academy Awards. Thus far she has won one Oscar. Her screen debut came in 1970 in the iconic film The Godfather.
She portrayed the role of Kay Adams-Corleone. But it wasn’t The Godfather that established her career. She was more known for her frequent collaboration with director Woody Allen. The two made several films together and she won her Oscar for the 1977 movie, Annie Hall. To celebrate Keaton’s legacy, we’re ranking her ten best film roles of all-time.
10 Annie MacDuggan-Paradis (First Wives Club)
Diane Keaton stars alongside Bette Midler and Goldie Hawn in this hilarious film about a group of women seeking revenge on their ex-husbands for leaving them for younger women. Considering how popular this movie is, you would think it was a hit with the critics, but that’s not necessarily the case.
The film debuted to mixed reviews but has since gone on to become a cult classic. The entire cast won an award at the National Board of Review for Best Acting Ensemble. In addition to Keaton, Midler, and Hawn, The First Wives Club also stars Maggie Smith, Dan Hedaya, Bronson Pinchot, and Marcia Gay Harden.
9 Sybil Stone (The Family Stone)
The Family Stone is a Christmas movie that follows the misadventures of the Stone family when they all gather for the holidays. Keaton earned her second Satellite Award nomination for playing the Stone family matriarch, Sybil Stone.
Sybil is a survivor of breast cancer, but has to deal with the news her cancer has returned while trying to keep her family from falling apart. Keaton’s performance was praised as being full of grace and good humor despite the character’s tragic circumstances. In addition to Keaton, the movie also starred Rachel McAdams, Dermot Mulroney, Craig T. Nelson, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Luke Wilson.
8 Erica Barry (Something’s Gotta Give)
Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton were cast as co-leads in this romantic comedy film. At the time of their casting, it was considered a bold choice due to their age. It was difficult for the film to make it to production, because of Hollywood ageism. Luckily it did, because it was a critical success, with Keaton earning numerous award nominations, including an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.
The movie follows the love story between Keaton’s character, Erica Barry, a divorced playwright, and Nicholson’s Harry Sanborn, a wealthy playboy who is prone to dating women under thirty. The movie also stars Keanu Reeves, Frances McDormand, Amanda Peet, and Jon Favreau.
7 J.C. Wiatt (Baby Boom)
Baby Boom is a 1987 romantic comedy written by Nancy Meyers (The Intern, It’s Complicated). In this movie, Diane Keaton plays J.C. Wiatt, who is forced to become a foster mother when her cousin dies suddenly and leaves her with a fourteen-month-old baby girl. Returning to her rom-com roots, Keaton turns in an excellent performance in this movie.
The movie was received well by audiences and critics, with Keaton garnering praise for her ability to dive fully into a character and lose herself to the role, no matter how eccentric. Baby Boom also stars Harold Ramis, Sam Wanamaker, and Sam Shepard.
6 Theresa Dunn (Looking for Mrs. Goodbar)
When Diane Keaton took on the role of Theresa Dunn in Looking for Mr. Goodbar, it was a departure for her. By that point in her career, she had typically become pigeon-holed to the comedic roles, particularly in romantic comedy films. Looking for Mr. Goodbar is a dramatic film.
She portrayed a woman who worked as an instructor teaching deaf children… by day. For her role in the film, she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award. The movie also starred Tuesday Weld, William Atherton, Richard Kiley, and Richard Gere.
5 Faith Dunlap (Shoot the Moon)
Again, Keaton wowed critics with her dramatic performance in a poignant drama film about fractured relationships, Shoot the Moon. She received yet another Golden Globe nomination, along with numerous other awards. Keaton’s role in the film was Faith Dunlap, the wife of George Dunlap.
Albert Finney played the role of her husband and he also received a Golden Globe nomination for his portrayal. The movie follows the deterioration of their marriage, much to the devastation of their four children. It also starred Karen Allen, Peter Weller, and Dana Hill.
4 Bessie (Marvin’s Room)
Marvin’s Room is a film adaptation of a stage play. Keaton plays a woman with leukemia and Meryl Streep co-stars as her estranged sister. For her work in the film, Diane Keaton was nominated for another Academy Award. Surprisingly, Streep was not nominated for an Oscar for the role, but she did receive a Golden Globe nomination.
The movie was highly praised by critics, particularly Keaton’s acting. Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro and other big names also star.
3 Louise Bryant (Reds)
Reds is an epic historical drama directed by Warren Beatty, which netted Keaton yet another Academy Award nomination in addition to her second Golden Globe nomination in a row. In the film, she played the role of journalist Louise Bryant, who flees from her husband to work with a radical man named John Reed.
She assists him as he helps to chronicle the Russian Civil War. Keaton was selected for the role because of her everyman quality and the fact she could play up the natural insecurities of the role. Many critics called her work in this movie her best acting work to date.
2 Mary Wilkie (Manhattan)
The 1979 film, Manhattan, marked the last time Keaton would collaborate with Woody Allen on one of his films. In the film, Allen stars as a twice-divorced comedy writer that falls in love with his best friends’ mistress, Mary Wilkie (Keaton). He claims the story for the film was inspired by his love of George Gershwin’s music.
Manhattan was largely praised upon its debut, mainly because critics appreciated the way Allen was able to poke fun at himself. Keaton’s work was rewarded with several award nominations including a BAFTA award nom for Best Leading Actress in a Film. Michael Murphy, Mariel Hemingway, Meryl Streep, and Anne Byrne also star in the film.
1 Annie Hall (Annie Hall)
Annie Hall is the film that helped launch Keaton to stardom. It was a Woody Allen film thought to be inspired by his real-life relationship with Diane Keaton. The character of Annie Hall was loosely based on Diane Keaton’s real personality, particularly her self-deprecating sense of humor.
Keaton won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in the film, and it marked the beginning of a long career working with Allen on various films. Annie Hall became a fashion icon due to her eclectic sense of style, typically involving vintage outfits or men’s clothing. Pantsuits became very popular for women after Annie Hall’s release.
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