Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Meg x 4

The new version of The Women is about to open and "update" that classic 30s catfight. I'm holding my breath and potentially my nose. We'll see. But while we're here I thought we should travel back in time to a moment when few people inexplicably hated on Meg Ryan. She was once as loved as Julia or Sandra ... neither of whom were ever so roundly despised once they were past their prime. Pundits often cite Meg's affair with Russell Crowe as her public/media/career downfall and though we agree that sleeping with Crowe is disgusting when you could be snuggled up to Dennis Quaid, how is that a valid explanation for the 180º public/media response. What is this, the 1950s?

These are my four favorite performances of her career...1. Sally in When Harry Met Sally (1989) and 2. Alice Green in When a Man Loves a Woman (1994) ...her two arguably most acclaimed performances happened within weak years for Oscar's Best Actress race so the Academy was way ahead of the public in giving Meg the cold shoulder. Is that something to be proud of in these two particular cases? 3. I barely remember Joe vs. The Volcano (1990) having only seen it once in 92 or 93 but I still remember that I loved Meg's teensy monologue about everybody being asleep and that I dug her hat trick (3 performances in 1 movie) 4. Addicted to Love (1997) came a couple of years past her last hurrah as romantic comedy gold but I personally loved her kohl rimmed eyes and slightly harder edged version of MEG. I could just as easily have chosen her spirited supporting wife role in Top Gun for this fourspot but another trip back to 1986 is too much movie nostalgia for even me.

Meg demonstrating her inescapable favorite pose from the 1980s and 1990s. Examples are infinite [photo source]

Meg Nostalgia. Will that be necessary for The [new] Women to play at all?


Anonymous said...

I love Meg Ryan since my teens, one of my favorite movies is "French kiss" and recently I traveled to europe and couldn't stop thinking in one of her lines in that movie,

Kate: Beautiful! georgeous! wish you were here.

She deserves more love.

ryansumera said...

she was tops in courage under fire as i recall

Anonymous said...

She gave a strange little performance in 'Restoration', if I remember well.

Anonymous said...

i think her getting those big lips did her no favous how you can be a sweetheart with new lips is beyond me.

personally and feel free to disagree nat i felt she should've had winona ryders oscan nom in 94 there are some scenes of hers in when a man loves a woman for example the "i'm not your problem to solve scene",the 1st phone call home and the marriage counselling session are all v well palyed by here,it was her body language too,she did not overplay it either yes the film was a but mawkinsh and lightweight in certain areas but she was the best thing in it and was unfairly snubbed heck the sag recognised her.

Fox said...

I don't mean this to anger you, Nathaniel, but Meg Ryan is dead to me. How can she keep going out in public with that long perm and her butchered face!?!

Don't get me wrong, I still thought In The Land of Women was an underrated female dramedy, but man, when I see The Women trailer I cringe (also b/c Jada Smith, Murphy Brown, and Anne Beatty are in it... blech!).

I want the Meg Ryan of D.O.A. and Innerspace back on my lap. Or on my face... whichever.

Notas Sobre Creación Cultural e Imaginarios Sociales said...

I agree that she went and screwed herself in a bad way.
She went from being simply adorable to looking like the Joker (maybe that's the only role I'd have liked to see her in...).

Anonymous said...

Any woman with a brain would prefer Crowe over Quaid. Quaid cheated on her bigtime while they were married yet he let his wife take the blame for the marriage failing. YUCK!

I love Meg's movies from the nineties, not so much her more recent ones, but I do still like Meg Ryan!


fox I'm not angered. ;) it's not like Meg is Michelle. She's no sacred object to me but I just have never understood the vitriol she's encountered this decade. And I don't see how her face is that distorted. SO many other actresses have done much worse things to their faces.

She looks reasonably still like Meg Ryan to me.

Fox said...


I just think she woulda looked beautiful as an aging actress. I miss the aging lady face. But I do agree with you that she has gotten a bad rap on her recent acting.

Anonymous said...

I was actually never a big fan of Meg Ryan. I didn't like "Sleepless in Seattle" - I can't get beyond the way the two leads seem (to me) to be so angry and resentful that they are doing work that is "beneath them" and how they are really serious actors. (Where is my OSCAR!!?) Ryan then went out and did those serious parts which received a very cool reception.

I think that she was too scornful of the tag "America's Sweetheart" where she should have been supremely grateful to be on top of the heap. She was also too dismissive of her comedies, calling her persona "diabetic sweet".

Her cosmetic surgery gives the impression that she wants to regain the Sweetheart ground. I guess that's why the backlash - "you didn't appreciate what you had when you had it". How many actresses struggle to make a living and get ahead and then Ryan gave the impression that her top billing in comedies wasn't good enough for her.

Bullock, for example, is always very gracious about her comedies, and never says a word against the middlebrow audiences who flock to them. She's smart enough to categorize "niceness" as a good thing and talk up about how trying to be a good person (like the characters in the movie) is important.

Anonymous said...

Basically, she was not a very good actress ... and at some point, her face changed so much, I guess people didn't even recognize her!!!???!

Anonymous said...

"The Women" is at 0% (!) on Rotten Tomatoes right now after 10 reviews. That's beyond sad and just about took any interest I had in seeing the film righr out of the window. I'm another one who's horrified with what Meg Ryan has done to her face now. She's straight up fugly, and it's a shame that she didn't allow herself to age gracefully.

Unknown said...

what's with the Meg Ryan hate? She's done nothing to alienate me!

Barry said...

Meg Ryan is amazing in In the Land of Women. One of her best peformances!

Kurtis O said...

I'm sensing I'm going to be the only critic who praised "The Women." It currently has a big ol' zero on RT, based on 10 reviews. I was unable to see Cukor's original before my screening, and English's update is certainly no chick flick masterpiece, but I enjoyed the film, particularly Meg's contribution to it. Her transformation in the film feels like a return to form before your eyes and made me remember the Meg of old.

I've never been a Meg fan (always found her a bit flat and generic) but here, she was fun and bright -- suregery or no surgery. On that front, she looks leagues better than someone like Jessica Lange, who, in more recent films, like Jarmusch's 'Broken Flowers,' looks like her skin was put in a shredder and then reapplied.

In "The Women" - which rights some of "Sex and the City"'s wrongs - she looks fresh. You here me, RT? Fresh, not rotten.

Kurtis O said...

yikes -- that's "hear."

Anonymous said...

so is who is america's sweetheart and don't say resse witherspoon she has not done 1 film to earn the title yet,is it julia,cameron or sandra!!

Anonymous said...

I know not many fawn over Sleepless in Seattle. I love it so much! Especially the Sven Nykvist photography and all.


i think sleepless is underrated (critically) and overrated (popularly) ;)

but the whole tom hanks/meg ryan series of movies makes me a little prickly due to all the weird gender issues. women giving everything up for men, etcetera.

Anonymous said...

Did you ever see "In the Cut"?

I thought she was good in that b/c you didn't immediately think "Meg Ryan" when you saw it.

On a side note, Quaid is fine and she was a lucky woman, cheating or not.

NicksFlickPicks said...

I still like Meg, I think as an actress she's well above average, and I will absolutely be there for The Women. It probably helps that I don't like the original that much. For her top perfs, I'd have said When Harry Met Sally..., You've Got Mail, In the Cut, Hurlyburly, and Addicted to Love. I love her embellishing gesture in the latter when she decides to buy an entire "area" of a florist's shop. I think Sleepless is one of her least impressive perfs, and by all accounts, Meg agrees.

But, yes, the new face bothers me.

John T said...

For me, it's all about Sleepless in Seattle. This is one of those movies I can watch over and over. I think it's because, as I get older, I become more and more like Annie Reed for multiple reasons (not least of which I can quote An Affair to Remember and cry the entire movie through). Ryan for me will never be so perfect as that, and for me she'll always be my Saturday night smile. Everything else was fine, but Sleepless is the one I love.

Glenn Dunks said...

It's her lips. They were incredibly inflated for a long time, but have since returned to (somewhat) normalcy.

I've always really liked Meg Ryan. She and Julia Roberts I think did some really fine work in their "populist" movies. Much more than Witherspoon.

In terms of performances I'd rank Meg's work as...

1. When Harry Met Sally...
2. When a Man Loves a Woman
3. Addicted to Love
4. You've Got Mail
5. Courage Under Fire
6. In the Cut
7. French Kiss
8. Sleepless in Seattle

I haven't seen some of her stuff like Joe Vs the Volcano, In the Land of Women and Innerspace and I'd hardly rank Top Gun and D.O.A. on a list.

In terms of the movies themselves

1. Sleepless in Seattle
2. You've Got Mail
3. When Harry Met Sally
4. Addicted to Love
5. French Kiss
6. When a Man Loves a Woman
7. In the Cut
8. Courage Under Fire

Absolutely looove the first five there. All of them are really really excellent examples of romantic comedies done well and then to compare them to most of the rom-coms of this last ten years and it just shows how much I liked Meg at the time. (I really liked romantic comedies while growing up, obviously). And, yes, everytime Sleepless in Seattle is on i MUST watch it. Love it to bits.


well all the listing makes me happy so i'll add

5. top gun
6. sleepless in seattle
7. in the cut (the thing with Meg i think is that she's a much better actress in comedies but like many many many (ok all) actors they don't seem to think that's enough. i think she acquitted herself fairly well in this underrated movie but i also think it could have been a more startling movie with a more expressive internal/ dramatic actress in the part (paging nicole kidman or someone even brainier)
8. courage under fire
9. prelude to a kiss
10. flesh and bone

i barely remember You've Got Mail (i think i blocked it out) and i never saw Hurlyburly

Cluster Funk said...

Thank you for your 'Joe vs. The Volcano' shout-out. John Patrick Shanley wrote and directed a beautifully quirky film (much more original than his 'Moonstruck' -- also fab).

It's sad thought that nobody has mentioned what I think is one of her best performances: 'IQ'. Granted this was not as popular as Ryan's other romantic comedies, but how sublime was her pairing with Tim Robbins? Makes me nostalgic for '94, when he starred opposite my other favorite actress that year, Jennifer Jason Leigh, in another underrated whimsical movie, 'The Hudsucker Proxy'.


Janice said...

I can't stand Sleepless but When Harry Met Sally will always be one of my favorites - and I'm not a huge fan of romcoms. (The last ten years have indeed been absymal.) I always wondered why the kept re-pairing Ryan and Hanks and not Ryan and Crystal? That was the only movie I've ever attended where every single person in the theater was laughing, regardless of age - during the orgasm scene I turned and saw everyone laughing as hard as I was, and felt that moment of "community" as a theatergoer that critics and commentators of past decades have often spoken of.

And the movie never got old on repeat viewings at home. (Carrie Fisher is wonderful in it, btw.)

I don't know if I want to see the Women or not (haven't seen the original yet) but Meg looked quite "normal" in the trailer to me, and at least in the trailer she'd appeared to have gotten some of her mojo back.

Nat, re: In the Cut, you probably know that Nicole was the actress Campion originally had in mind, but she ended up as producer instead. Don't know why she didn't take on the role though at the time. (The funny thing is that in a lot of the stills of Ryan in that movie, she looks astonishingly like Kidman, and normally one would never confuse the two of them.)

Deborah said...

I love You've Got Mail beyond all human reason.