7 Best Nora Ephron Movies

7 Best Nora Ephron movies

Nora Ephron was a one-of-a-kind storyteller. She was a journalist, a writer, a novelist, a screenwriter, a director, a playwright. In film, she flourished in the genre of romance — her work was frequently sweet but rarely saccharine. Ephron did not shy away, however, from more coarse content like that found in the biographical film Silkwood, for which she was Academy Award-nominated. She was given many award nominations — from the Academy Awards from to the Razzies — in her three-decades of work in film. Indeed, Ephron had a colorful career in Hollywood. Here are her seven best films.

When Harry Met Sally… (1989)

When Harry Met Sally… is not only Ephron’s best film but one of the best American romance movies of contemporary cinema, in large part because of its clever simplicity. Directed by Rob Reiner, the film plays Billy Crystal opposite Meg Ryan as the respective titular characters. Throughout the years, the two unwittingly pop up in each other’s lives. The prototypical “will they or won’t they?” scenario ensues as Harry and Sally frequently bicker about the nature of relationships between men and women. When Harry Met Sally… is an undisputed classic.

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Julie & Julia (2009)

Julie & Julia is an adaptation by Ephron of both professional chef Julia Child’s autobiography My Life in France and Julie Powell’s memoir Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously, based on her popular weblog. The film follows two parallel threads: Julia Child (Meryl Streep) and her husband (Stanley Tucci) moving to France in the 1950s, where Julia attends Le Cordon Bleu; and Julie Powell (Amy Adams) and her husband (Chris Messina) in New York in 2002, which Julie finds reprieve from her miserable job by attempting to cook all of the recipes in Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year. The film is an ambitious and thoroughly enjoyable film.

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Bewitched (2005)

Bewitched was named for the 1960s sitcom about a suburban American witch that preceded it. The film — co-written by Ephron, her sister Delia, and Adam McKay — is a meta-take on the show. An actual witch named Isabel Bigelow (Nicole Kidman) takes on the role of Samantha Stephens in a remake of the sitcom Bewitched. Antics ensue as she is cast opposite of a narcissistic mortal actor named Jack Wyatt (Will Ferrell), who plays Samantha’s husband Darrin. The film was frequently derided upon its release. However, nearly a decade and a half — and countless bland film adaptations of shows — later, Ephron’s funny, subversive take on Bewitched sounds far more appealing than some typical flat remake.

Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

Sleepless in Seattle tells the story of two lonely people: Sam Baldwin (Tom Hanks), who has recently lost his wife to cancer, and Annie Reed (Meg Ryan), who feels unsure and aimless in her relationship with Walter (Bill Pullman). Sam’s young son Jonah and his friend Jessica attempt — with varying success — to foster a relationship between the two. It is the sort of “will they or won’t they?” type of romance film that draws one in and provides as much tension as a thriller.

You’ve Got Mail (1998)

You’ve Got Mail — which Ephron directed as well as wrote — was based loosely on the 1940 Ernst Lubitsch film The Shop Around the Corner starring Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan. In the film. Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) and Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) embark upon an anonymous love affair via email, unaware that they are speaking to their respective real-life business competitors. It is an undeniably sweet film — even if it seems like an odd move to cast Hanks and Ryan opposite one another for the second time in five years.

Silkwood (1983)

Silkwood is one of the darkest pieces — if not the darkest — in Ephron’s oeuvre as well as her screenwriting debut. The film, directed by Mike Nichols (director of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and The Graduate), tells the real-life story of Karen Silkwood (played by Meryl Streep), a nuclear factory worker and union activist who is killed in a car accident while investigating possible wrongdoing on the part of the factory which employs her. It is a gripping, tense film which Ephron and her co-writer Alice Arlen wrote faithfully to portray the real-world events.

My Blue Heaven (1990)

My Blue Heaven is a sort of companion piece to Martin Scorsese’s acclaimed Goodfellas. Ephron’s husband Nicholas Pileggi wrote the book Wiseguy—upon which Goodfellas is based—with a series of interviews with the real-life mobster-turned-state’s evidence Henry Hill. As a result, Ephron also spent a significant amount of time with Hill and based the central character of My Blue Heaven upon him. Vinnie Antonelli (Steve Martin) has been recently placed in the Witness Protection Program so that he can testify against his fellow mobsters in federal court. As a gregarious and flamboyant man unaccustomed to a low-key suburban life, Vinnie fosters a sort of unusual relationship with his bespectacled Witness Protection agent Barry Coopersmith (Rick Moranis). It is a great, goofy mob comedy.

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