In early October, New York magazine published a list it called “The 100 Best Screenwriters of All Time.” The inventory was compiled not by fans but by screenwriters themselves. As to be expected, men make up the majority. On that, New York offered a true, if regretful, statement: “Hollywood’s traditional exclusion of women and people of color makes it extraordinarily difficult to truly qualify the best in the craft.”
Within the top ten, however, one woman can be found: Nora Ephron, listed at No. 9. Ephron’s most famous movies are among many women’s (and men’s!) favorites. They are the films we return to time and time again to bring us happiness in sad times, to make us feel OK about our quirks, to revel in the idiosyncrasies of love. Luckily, there’s no better time to indulge in a mar-Ephron-athon than right now. You can celebrate Ephron’s win or mourn the imminent closure of AIM through Kathleen Kelly and Joe Fox’s AOL messenger musings. In no particular order, here are your plans for the weekend. You’re welcome.
You’ve Got Mail: Rent on Amazon
Tom Hanks. Books. Should we just stop there? You’ve Got Mail was one of those movies that divided our lives—as in “before” You’ve Got Mail and “after.” In today’s confusing world of app dating and brick-and-mortar Amazon bookstores, two hours spent in the world of primitive AOL and The Shop Around the Corner could not be more apt.
Whether at the suggestion of Nickie and Terry, Sam and Annie, or Chuck and Blair, how many hours have you spent dreaming of a rendezvous with your love atop the Empire State Building? (Don’t answer that.) Sleepless in Seattle, for many, is the epitome of Ephron’s trademark; it’s a declaration that love doesn’t follow one script or appear in just one way.
When Harry Met Sally: Rent on Amazon
Can men and women ever be just friends? Save that existential question for another day, and instead watch Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal remind us why road trips, greasy spoon diners, and the wise advice of elders are exactly what we need in life.
I’ll say what we’re all thinking: Julie Powell is a little annoying. But when you balance that with Meryl Streep, Julia Child, and a world in which cooking brings a marriage to its knees and back up again, it’s OK. This was the final movie Ephron made before her death in 2012.
We won’t have any more movies from Nora Ephron, but her influence defined an entire genre of films. Rom-coms, as we know and love them, are owed largely to Ephron’s acute understanding of what makes us all believe in love—no matter what.