Rowland's performance won her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Leading Actress in a drama, which she lost to Jane Fonda. The recipient of the equivalent comedy prize, Diane Keaton, went on to win the Oscar for Annie Hall. I hold Keaton's performance in incredibly high regard, and was so enamoured with Rowlands that I found it difficult to judge the two. So, a third viewing of Annie Hall was called for, and an opportunity to judge Diane and Gena's comparative worth fairly.
Annie Hall is a film I've loved for a long time. I love how Allen reduces love, ridicules heartbreak, but can't help sentimentalising both. And how romance and relationships are ultimately shown as expansive, promising, and worthwhile, even though the characters don't end the film in a blaze of glory.
Diane Keaton's trademark goofy nature is evident most in the early scenes of Annie and Alvy's relationship, but that is not how we first see her. Keaton's first scene is getting out of a taxi, complaining to Alvie that she missed her therapy session, and frustrated that he won't walk into a screening of Liv Ullman's Face To Face two minutes late. The element of Keaton's performance I find most interesting is how she makes Annie seem so eager to promote the idea of herself as fleety and free-loving in the early stages. How she flirts by making her ticks so outlandish and yet totally adorable to Alvy, and how she eventually becomes so resentful of her decision to become an 'appealing' romantic option. It's refreshing to see a romance occur between two people that are so ego-centric and often selfishly undevoted to each other, and in the same way as Rowlands it is Keaton's job to confound ours (and Alvy's) expectations of the dynamic of their relationship and how it unfolds.
Actress Verdict: Keaton wins by a whisker or two.