8 Best Films Directed By Their Lead Actor

Bringing out the best in themselves.

It can be hard directing actors, especially when they're a bona fide star, replete with their own neuroses and comforts. But that's nothing compared to a director having to direct themselves to a great performance in a movie, one which draws on both his skill as a filmmaker and as a performer to deliver something special. This is tougher than you might think (after all, who better to tell you what to do than yourself?), and one only needs to look at some recent examples (Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Don Jon or Ben Stiller's Zoolander 2 spring immediately to mind) to see that this directing/acting (and in many cases, writing, too) combination rarely delivers anything that amazing. But when it works, it really works, as shown in these eight films that managed to achieve greatness with their director and star as one. That at least half of the films on show here can be considered masterpieces should tell you something about how, when balanced right, this director/star duality can work wonders.

8. Annie Hall - Woody Allen

There was always going to be a Woody Allen film on this list, and it was probably always going to be this, Annie Hall, the director's best known (and probably best loved) film. Allen has often starred in his own work - to varying degrees of success, from the great of Manhattan and Hannah And Her Sisters (the former which pushed Annie Hall all the way for inclusion here, the latter which probably would've edged it out were Allen the outright lead in it) to the bad of A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy and Small Time Crooks - and Annie Hall, as well as being the only film to win Allen an Oscar for directing, is far and away his best actual piece of acting (the film also earned him his only Oscar nomination as an actor). One of the greatest comedies ever made, Annie Hall is perfect in a way, perhaps not as polished or gorgeous to look at as Manhattan, but definitely more influential, more full of classic, memorable moments. The first hour is especially great - not least because it includes the Marshall McLuhan section, which is surely one of the most iconic moments in all of cinema - and overall Annie Hall becomes that rare thing: a rom-com every bit as rich as the greatest drama.

No-one I think is in my tree, I mean it must be high or low?