Nora Ephron, who passed away on June 26, 2012, was likely the most successful female screenwriter in film history, garnered the respect and admiration of the industry and the worship of fans around the world who love her "love conquers all" happy endings. Grab a box of tissues and check out this list of her best.
First up: Ephron's 1983 hit that won multiple Oscar nominations.
Ephron was at the top of her game with this script based on the true story of Karen Silkwood, a whistle-blower on safety violations at an Oklahoma plutonium plant. Meryl Streep stars as Silkwood, and Kurt Russell and Cher round out the cast. The movie won Oscar nominations for Streep, Cher, Ephron (for screenwriting), and director Mike Nichols and grossed more than $35 million.
The all-star cast of Heartburn included Meryl Streep, Jack Nicholson, and Jeff Daniels in a story based on Ephron's best-selling novel, which captured her real-life transition between marriages. The movie was in good hands with frequent collaborator Mike Nichols directing and brought in more than $25 million.
Probably the most popular and iconic Ephron film to date, When Harry Met Sally is widely understood to be the romantic comedy by which all others are measured. Directed by Rob Reiner, the film stars comedian Billy Crystal and Ephron favorite Meg Ryan as Harry and Sally try to answer the question: Can men and women be just friends? A bona fide blockbuster, this favorite raked in $93 million at the box office.
This light comedy stars Steve Martin, Rick Moranis, Joan Cusack, and Carol Kane as FBI agents, mobsters, and other suburbanites. The script was written by Ephron and did okay in theaters, pulling in around $25 million, but it wasn't the follow-up to When Harry Met Sally that Ephron had hoped it would be.
In this typically quirky-with-a-message Ephron film (she directed this one, too), a single mom chucks her sales job to trailblaze a career as a stand-up comedian in New York City. That's a tough road, especially for a mom whose family has to make its own transitions. The film wasn't one of Ephron's biggest hits, but it grossed nearly $3 million at the box office and was received warmly by critics who were ready to find fault with the first-time director.
Continue to the next page to discover more of her romantic comedies and quirky tales.
Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan make this Ephron-original sparkle all the more under her precise direction. Hanks plays a recent widower who finds new possibilities for love when his son puts him on national radio. A long-distance relationship sparks, and challenges present themselves as the couple tries to meet. Sleepless was anything but a sleeper, bringing in more than $125 million at the box office and garnering positive reviews from critics.
Steve Martin, one of Ephron's favorite actors, stars in this madcap comedy about a crisis hotline business during the busy holiday season. Late comedy great Madeline Kahn also stars, along with Anthony LaPaglia. Ephron served as writer and director for Mixed Nuts, so when the critics universally panned it, she was doubly to blame, though the film still took in around $6 million.
The lives of two tabloid reporters (Andie MacDowell and William Hurt) are changed forever when they find themselves investigating a claim that the archangel Michael is living in Iowa. The movie that reignited John Travolta's career was also a huge hit for Ephron, who wrote and directed Michael. This time the formula worked, and the movie took in $95 million at the box office.
Ephron reunited Sleepless in Seattle stars Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks for this romantic comedy about an indie-bookstore owner and a bookstore chain bigwig. The two are business rivals but fall for each other over the Internet, not realizing the true identity of the other until they're hooked. A whopping $115 million in box office receipts later, Ephron showed that she was still the master of the romantic comedy genre.
Ephron and her sister Delia teamed up for the first Ephron film of the 21st century, about a trio of sisters who bond over the death of their father. Stereotypical "hysterical-female" breakdowns and makeups occur, played out by A-list actors Meg Ryan, Diane Keaton (who also directed), and Lisa Kudrow. The film was panned by critics and only brought in $36 million -- about half as much as it cost to make. The movie was based on a book written by Delia Ephron, but it simply didn't translate to the screen as well as the sisters would've liked.
With megastar Nicole Kidman and popular funnyman Will Ferrell, the film version of the 1960s TV series should've brought bigger box office returns than it did. Ephron wrote and directed this much-hyped film, but it didn't do as well as expected. Still, the movie pulled in $62 million at the box office, even though critics didn't find much "bewitching" about it.
Meryl Streep stole the show in this comedy-drama, which Ephron also directed. It was, in essence, an adaptation, combining Julia Child's autobiography "My Life in France" with New York writer Julie Powell's "Julie and Julia," in which Powell recounts her attempts to prepare all the recipes in Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." Streep won praise from fans and critics -- and an Oscar nomination -- for her role as Julia Child.
Helen Davies, Marjorie Dorfman, Mary Fons, Deborah Hawkins, Martin Hintz, Linnea Lundgren, David Priess, Julia Clark Robinson, Paul Seaburn, Heidi Stevens, and Steve Theunissen