Diane Keaton is one of a few actresses from the 70s whose acting career has survived and remained active in today’s film and television. Although described as self-deprecating, it has helped improve Keaton’s versatility by continuously redesigning herself to play different roles. Known by movie audiences as Diane Keaton, the actress, was born Diane Hall on January 5, 1946. After joining the Actors ‘ Equity Association, she had to settle with her mother’s maiden name to avoid a name conflict.
Keaton is famous for playing the mother, mother-in-law, and family-centric roles. Her characters are often free-spirited yet independent-minded. More often than not, Keaton’s character is seen wearing gloves and favors white clothing. Keaton has starred in over 55 films in her career. To better appreciate her growth and contribution to the film industry, these are the top ten Diane Keaton movies of all time.
The Godfather Trilogy
Diane Keaton was cast as Kay Adams, Michael Corleone’s wife (Al Pacino). Adams’ character is introduced in The Godfather (1972) as Michael’s girlfriend. She became his second wife after his first wife, Apollonia, was accidentally killed in a car bomb. At the end of The Godfather, Adams realizes Michael’s not only responsible for Carlo’s death but is the new Don Corleone.
Fully aware of who and what he is in The Godfather Part II (1974), Adams terminates her pregnancy. Enraged, Michael hits Adams and banishes her from the family while taking custody of the kids. In The Godfather Part III (1990), Adams is officially divorced, with the children (Anthony and Mary) living with her. Adams informs an aging and remorseful Michael that she and Anthony know how Fredo (Michael’s older, good-for-nothing brother) died — Micheal ordered his assassination for betraying him and the family.
The director, Francis Ford Coppola, cast Diane Keaton for the part of Kay Adams after watching her performance in Lovers and Other Strangers (1970). To help better portray the character, Keaton based it on director Coppola’s wife, Eleanor Neil Coppola, for inspiration. The Godfather (1972) became Keaton’s highest-grossing film just two years after her film debut. It grossed $250–291 million on a $6–7.2 million budget.
Annie Hall (1977)
Annie Hall (1977) was a satirical romantic comedy-drama that starred Diane Keaton as its titular character. Director and comedian Woody Allen played Keaton’s love interest, Alvy Singer. Annie Hall follows Alvy’s quest to understand why his relationship with Annie failed.
Before the movie’s release, Allen and Keaton had dated and worked together on different projects. The character of Annie Hall was specifically written with Keaton in mind. In fact, the movie’s story is based on the real-life relationship between Allen and Keaton. The eponymous character’s last name is Keaton’s original last name before changing it at the start of her career. Annie is also Keaton’s nickname. For her performance as Annie Hall, Keaton won an Academy Award for Best Actress, BAFTA for Best Actress in a Leading Role, and a Golden Globes Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical.
Diane Keaton portrayed American political activist and journalist Louise Bryant in Warren Beatty‘s epic historical drama Reds (1981). Keaton played one of the movie’s leads, Louise Bryant. Warren Beatty played the character of John Reed. Keaton and director Beatty were already dating before the movie’s production began. However, the relationship ended after filming, as Beatty and Keaton disagreed several times during production.
Jack Nicholson played Eugene O’Neill, a character Keaton’s Louise Bryant had an affair within the movie. According to director Beatty, the role was reserved for Nicholson. Beatty believed Nicholson was the only person (in real life) that could take his girl, Diane Keaton, from him. In Reds, the poem Nicholson’s character gives to Bryant (Keaton) was actually a real poem Nicholson wrote for Keaton. However, despite rumors of Nicholson and Keaton dating at the time, the actors were never in a romantic relationship.
Father of the Bride (1991)
Father of the Bride (1991) is an American romantic comedy that stars Diane Keaton as Nina Banks and Steve Martin as George Stanley Banks. The 1991 film follows the wedding of the Banks’ daughter, Annie. A sequel was released in 1995, with Keaton and Martin reprising their roles. In the sequel, George Stanley Banks struggles to come to the reality of being a grandfather and a father, as both his daughter and wife are pregnant.
Father of the Bride, Part 3 (ish) was released in 2020 as a short film. Keaton and Steve Martin also reprised their roles. While Keaton’s performance undoubtedly helped push the film series, she almost wasn’t cast for the role. With the commercial failure of The Good Mother (1988), a movie with Keaton as its lead actor, the studio wanted to sideline her for someone perceived to be more bankable. Luckily, she landed the part and helped turn Keaton’s Box Office fortunes for good.
The First Wives Club (1996)
The First Wives Club (1996) revolves around three close friends who come together after the death and burial of their mutual friend. Understanding they all have issues with their husbands leaving them for younger women, they hatch a plan to get revenge and get even. The movie starred Diane Keaton, Bette Midler, and Goldie Hawn.
Surprisingly, all three women have birthdays within 45 days of each other. While on set, they celebrated their 50th birthday together. Among the three actresses playing wives, Keaton is the only one who has never married. Unsurprisingly, The First Wives Club was a commercial success and developed a cult following among middle-aged women.
Marvin’s Room (1996)
Jerry Zaks‘ American drama Marvin’s Room (1996) is about love, family, and sacrifices. Diane Keaton starred alongside Meryl Streep, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Robert De Niro. Keaton played Bessie, sister to Streep’s Lee character. Several other actresses were considered for the role of Bessie and Lee.
Jessica Lange was offered the role of Bessie but turned it down. Streep was initially slated to play Bessie, with Anjelica Huston playing Lee. Kathleen Turner and Sigourney Weaver were also considered. However, Streep suggested Keaton, who eventually landed the role.
Something’s Gotta Give (2003)
American romance movies are mostly about young people finding love. Something’s Gotta Give (2003) takes a spin on that narrative with its plot focused on the love story of 63-year-old Harry Sanborn (Jack Nicholson) and 56-year-old Erica Barry. The movie’s director and writer, Nancy Meyers, specifically wrote the roles of Harry and Erica with Nicholson and Keaton in mind.
The New York City restaurant scene where Erica kissed Harry wasn’t scripted. The kiss was Keaton’s improvisation and was left in the final cut because Meyers liked how naturally it fits the scene. It wouldn’t be the first time Nicholson and Keaton will play characters that have a sexual affair. They did the same in Warren Beatty’s Reds. Nicholson reportedly turned down a role in Bad Santa (2003) to play Harry in this movie. A smart decision since Something’s Gotta Give greatly outgrossed Bad Santa.
Mad Money (2008)
Although Mad Money (2008) was a box office bomb, it’s still one of Diane Keaton’s best roles film. Keaton played Bridget Cardigan, alongside Queen Latifah as Nina Brewster and Katie Holmes as Jackie Truman. The character all work at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. They hatch a plan to steal old dollar notes marked for destruction. Keaton’s character is the movie’s main protagonist, whose financial issues cause her to find a job as a janitor at the bank.
Morning Glory (2010)
Diane Keaton is cast in a lead role as Colleen Peck, a co-host of the Daybreak morning show. She joins an ensemble cast of top actors, including Harrison Ford, Rachel McAdams, Patrick Wilson, and Jeff Goldblum. Although Keaton and Ford have had a long acting career and starred in many movies, they have never actually met. Their first meet was on the set of Morning Glory.
Morning Glory tells the story of Becky Fuller (Rachel McAdams), who accepts a job offer to improve Daybreak’s ratings. She puts her career on the line and hires an unwilling Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford) to co-anchor the show with Colleen Peck, who has been a host for over a decade. Against all odds, the show’s viewership and ratings improve.
Book Club (2018)
Book Club (2018) has an ensemble cast of Academy Awards winners and nominees. The movie follows four friends who have been part of a monthly book club for decades. When they read Fifty Shades of Grey, they immediately get turned on and seek to explore more with their partners.
The four friends include Diane (Diane Keaton), Vivian (Jane Fonda), Sharon (Candice Bergen), and Carol (Mary Steenburgen). Other stars include Andy Garcia, Don Johnson, Craig T. Nelson, and Richard Dreyfuss. Besides Richard Dreyfuss, Diane Keaton and the others reprised their roles for its 2023 sequel Book Club: The Next Chapter.