10 Best Meg Ryan Movies
One of the most lovable romantic leads of the 80s and 90s, Meg Ryan has seemingly exited the spotlight as of late. While she is definitely missed, there’s nothing stopping audiences from enjoying her past work — much of which remains incredibly enjoyable and still just as captivating as it was decades ago. After all these years, there’s still no one that compares to the charm and charisma of Meg Ryan. Seemingly somewhat of a muse for Nora Ephron, the actress got the leading role in three of her most beloved romantic comedies. Beyond this, Ryan also managed to transform into the female lead in sci-fi comedies, animated films, and gripping dramas. Proving to be much more versatile than the lighthearted roles she’s most known for, Meg Ryan holds onto an impressively eclectic and notable filmography.
When Harry Met Sally…
Easily the best thing Meg Ryan and Nora Ephron ever accomplished together, 1989’s When Harry Met Sally… is the pinnacle of romantic comedies. In addition to redefining the genre at the time, the movie stands as the greatest and most impressive realization of what a romantic comedy can be. Meg Ryan plays perfectly off of Billy Crystal, standing the test of time and remaining one of the most lovable leads in film history.
Joe Dante is the master of a lost art form: the sci-fi comedy. The 80s saw plenty of films from this genre—Ghostbusters, Back to the Future, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure — but only one features Meg Ryan: Innerspace, Dante’s ingenious twist on Fantastic Voyage. Along with Dennis Quaid and Martin Short, Ryan takes a fun concept and turns it into something brilliant.
Sleepless in Seattle
The second of three Ephron films on this list, Sleepless in Seattle pairs Ryan with the effervescent Tom Hanks and once again redefines what a romantic comedy can be. Instead of bringing the two leads together with a meet-cute in the first act, Ephron refrains from the two interacting with each other face-to-face for as long as possible. Similar tactics have been replicated since, but Ephron and Ryan are the ones who managed to make it worth replicating.
Many actresses dream of scoring the leading role in an animated film, surely — these days, instead of utilizing voice actors, animated movies recruit talent used to performing in live-action roles in order to secure the much-needed star power for the movie to perform well. Naturally, this makes scoring an animated movie a much sought-after gig for actors. Meg Ryan got to play Anastasia in a movie that isn’t produced by Disney, but sure feels like one. Ryan is talented enough to make an impression, and the film remains one of her best.
You’ve Got Mail
The third Ephron film in a Meg Ryan trilogy, You’ve Got Mail again reunites the actress with Tom Hanks. The two play rival store owners — Ryan and her small, independent bookstore and Hanks with his large bookstore conglomerate — who fall in love over email, neither one knowing that the person behind the screen is their business’s nemesis. It’s a cute take on the 1937 film The Shop Around the Corner; a modern twist on a classic love story.
A band biopic that arrived decades before Bohemian Rhapsody revived interest in the genre, The Doors profiles Jim Morrison and his influential rock band throughout the 1960s and into the early 70s. Ryan plays Pamela Courson opposite Val Kilmer and Kyle MacLachlan, more-or-less remaining one of the stronger entries in the pantheon of musician biopics. Like Bohemian Rhapsody, The Doors saw critics praising the performances over the film itself, with Ryan’s role included in that praise.
Joe vs. the Volcano
One instance where Ryan and Hanks re-teamed without Nora Ephron at the helm, Joe vs. the Volcano is a 1990s romantic comedy not afraid to take risks. It’s engaging and effortlessly charming, thanks largely in part to its two unimpeachable leads. It’s movies like these that make us miss Ryan the most.
In The Cut
Written and directed by Jane Campion, In The Cut is a 2003 romantic thriller that sees Ryan playing an English teacher who is invigorated by a homicide detective played by Mark Ruffalo. The two are accompanied by Jennifer Jason Leigh, but no one’s performance is as controversial as Ryan’s: the movie caused quite the uproar at the time, and it certainly deserves a reexamination after all these years.
Courage Under Fire
A movie that takes a look at a US Army officer’s past as he investigates a female commander up for the Medal of Honor in the present, Courage Under Fire stars Denzel Washington and Meg Ryan as Nat Sterling and Karen Walden. The movie is smart and sturdy and serious, three things that Ryan played very well. More than anything, though, the film is riveting and heroic.
In every great actor’s career, there’s always one period piece. Restoration is Meg Ryan’s — taking place during the reign of King Charles II, the film tracks the royal’s former physician as he helps Londoners suffering from the plague. This was one of the first films where Ryan proved herself as more than a romantic comedy lead: she showed she was capable of seriously gripping performances.
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