Nora Ephron was one of the best filmmakers, writers, and journalists of all time. If you’re a fan of romantic comedies, chances are you’re very familiar with a lot of Ephron’s work.
She was born in New York City to writer parents; her father Henry and mother Phoebe were well-respected playwrights and screenplay writers. When Ephron went to college, she dreamed of becoming the next Dorothy Parker, and eventually graduated from college with a degree in Political Science.
As the years went by and Ephron’s writing career grew, she began to dip her toe into the world of screenplay writing and eventually directing and filmmaking. In 2021, romantic comedy lovers remember her filmmaking with fondness, because of the way she brought several characters to life on screen.
Without further ado, here’s a list of the top 5 Nora Ephron films.
1. Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
Starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, Sleepless in Seattle follows Sam Baldwin, played by Hanks, a single father whose son wants him to fall in love and find a new wife. When his son Jonah calls a radio station during a daily program, Annie Reed, (played by Ryan), a journalist and reporter, hears Jonah speak on the radio. She starts to develop feelings for Sam and eventually goes on to write him a letter that asks him to meet her at the top of the Empire State Building. The only snafu is that Annie is engaged, so her new feelings for Sam leave her feeling conflicted about her fiance. Eventually, the two meet. We’re not going to spoil this film for you, but we hope this sweet plot reels you in.
2. When Harry Met Sally (1989)
When Harry Met Sally is another one of Ryan’s and Ephron’s collaborations. This comedy is all about Sally Albright and Harry Burns, two college graduates who happen to share a car that takes them from Chicago to New York City. During their long car ride, the two argue about the age-old debate talking about whether or not men and women can really be friends without romantic feelings coming in between them and causing tension. After the car ride, Harry and Sally lose touch and reconnect after a decade. This time, they try to stay friends with each other without letting any romantic feelings come in the way. Do they fall in love or stay friends? Well, you just need to watch this movie to find out!
3. You’ve Got Mail (1998)
In the digital age we live in now, it’s hard to think about emailing or chatting with a complete stranger, especially since so much of our data is readily available online. However, You’ve Got Mail takes us right back to a time when the internet was a slightly safer place, and chatting with strangers didn’t always make us think about cyber scams or catfishing. This excellent Nora Ephron film follows Kathleen Kelly, the owner of a small bookstore.
Her business starts to face financial difficulties after a huge corporate bookstore opens right across the street from her little store. Kathleen hates the owner of the corporation, Joe Fox (played by Tom Hanks again), and goes out of her way to try and avoid him. Eventually, Kathleen and Joe meet online, but because they’re chatting online. A romance quickly develops, but both people don’t know the real identity of the other person! When Joe realizes that the woman on the other side of his screen is an enemy, it’s up to him to try and find a way to choose between real life and love.
We loved this film because of how much nostalgia it gave us for the nineties and how sweet and simple the story is.
4. Julie and Julia (2009)
This next film is one that lives rent-free in our minds. We wouldn’t recommend watching it when you’re hungry because several scenes in the movie feature close-up shots of delicious food. Julie and Julia is all about how Julie Powell, a woman fed up with her job, decides to cook her way through the entirety of Julia Child’s cookbook, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” The movie takes us through a visually pleasing journey of a home cook’s journey to success as she wrestles with some of the more complicated recipes and techniques in the book, like boning a duck or trussing a chicken.
In the present day, Julie Powell (played by Amy Adams) wrestles with Julia Child’s cookbook and the blog she maintains, updating readers about her progress. In the past, we get to see glimpses of who Julia Child (played by Meryl Streep) was. Ephron traces Child’s journey from a housewife to one of the most celebrated home cooks in all of culinary history. In addition to being able to watch Child as a home cook, we also get a glimpse into Child’s personal life and the loving relationship she shared with her husband, Paul.
This true story is one of the best food-related movies of all time, but we’d recommend watching it with an armful of snacks!
5. Hanging Up (2000)
The four previous films that we’ve written about are all a bit more serious, so we thought we’d end this list on a more cheerful note! Hanging Up is about three sisters, played by Lisa Kudrow, Diane Keaton, and Meg Ryan. The three sisters are incredibly successful, and they must come together when their father is admitted to a hospital. This movie is comical in a way that only Nora Ephron can do, and we love it for its gentle humor and witty dialogue!
In conclusion, there’s a ton of great films out there, but if you’re looking for a selection of gentle and sweet movies, Nora Ephron’s work is a great place to start. Her films are kind and sweet, and they make you feel better automatically. If you’re someone who doesn’t like to watch very long movies either, then her films are definitely for you. All in all, go watch a Nora Ephron film. You’ll thank us!