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Top 10 Iconic Meg Ryan Romance Movies

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Spencer Sher
Throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s, Meg Ryan romance movies defined the genre. We’re looking at movies starring this actress that have romance at the heart of the plot. The entries will be based on a mixture of the film's overall quality and Ryan's performance within it. MsMojo ranks the best Meg Ryan romance movies. What’s your favorite Meg Ryan romance movie? Let us know in the comments!

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Few actors owned the romance genre in the ‘80s and ‘90s quite like this one! Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Meg Ryan Romance Movies.

For this list, we’re only considering films defined as a romance; they can be romantic comedies, science fiction, etc… but romance needs to be at the heart of the plot. As such, films like “The Women” and “Innerspace” will not be considered. Additionally, the entries will be based on a mixture of the film's overall quality and Ryan's performance within it.

#10: “French Kiss” (1995)

Is “French Kiss” a great movie? Not exactly. But what it lacks in substance and actors not named Kevin Kline doing respectable Parisian accents, it makes up for in rom-com charm. That is to say, Meg Ryan does her thing, and in the end, you can’t help but crack a smile. The film, which revolves around a woman who travels to France to win back her fiancé only to wind up inadvertently helping a local smuggling in a diamond, received mixed reviews upon its release. However, while the fish-out-of-water story plays up every foreigner-in-France trope imaginable, a pinch of Meg Ryan movie magic manages to keep it entertaining from start to finish.

#9: “Joe Versus the Volcano” (1990)

The first of not one, not two, but three films starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks as star crossed lovers to make our list, “Joe Versus the Volcano” is undoubtedly the craziest. The film is about a man (played by Hanks) who agrees to sacrifice himself by jumping into a volcano after learning he has a terminal illness. Like we said, crazy. Along the way, he meets Meg Ryan’s Patricia and the two fall in love. Meg Ryan plays three different characters in the film and manages to imbue each one with enough personality to keep viewers engaged. In fact, while the film divided critics, Time magazine remarked that “Meg Ryan beguiles in three different roles”.

#8: “Anastasia” (1997)

A critical and commercial success that garnered two Academy Award nominations, “Anastasia” is the only animated Meg Ryan film to make our list. Released in 1997, the movie is loosely based on the idea that Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia escaped the Russian Revolution, as opposed to dying with the rest of her family as is typically believed. While the film is ripe with historical inaccuracies and outright fabrications, it’s whimsy more than makes up for its faults. Meg Ryan delivers a superb voice acting performance as Anastasia, who falls for the ambitious and brave Dimitri. While not your typical Meg Ryan romance, “Anastasia” will nevertheless have you saying “aww” before the credit’s role.

#7: “When a Man Loves a Woman” (1994)

“When a Man Loves a Woman” may not be the first movie that comes to mind when you mention Meg Ryan’s name, but it is no less impressive than any of her other performances. The film is about a husband and wife dealing with the latter’s alcohol addiction. Ryan is simply fantastic in the role; infusing her character with the depth and nuance that a serious topic such as alcoholism requires. Her work in the film earned her a Screen Actors Guild nomination for Best Female Actor in a Leading Role, the only such nomination of her career.

#6: “City of Angels” (1998)

This film is about an angel (played by Nicolas Cage), who falls in love with a woman from earth (played by Meg Ryan). The fantastical romance proved to be a box office smash, thanks in part to the fact that it brought together two of the decade’s biggest names. While Cage’s character borders on creepy, what with the way he silently watches Ryan’s character from afar, the film manages to endear itself to the viewer thanks to the obvious chemistry between the lead actors. Reception was mixed, but many critics still praised Ryan’s performance.

#5: “Kate & Leopold” (2001)

When a British duke from 1876 is transported to modern day New York, he falls for an advertising executive, as she teaches him the ins and outs of the 21st century. Starring… wait for it… Meg Ryan and a very young Hugh Jackman, “Kate & Leopold” is arguably the cutest film in either actor’s catalogue. Funny and sweet in all the right ways, the movie perfectly combines Jackman’s natural showmanship and Ryan’s adorable neuroticisms and quirks. While it may not have won over the critics, the film did well at the box office and remains a must-watch for any true Meg Ryan fan!

#4: “Prelude to a Kiss” (1992)

One of the hardest films in the Meg Ryan oeuvre to categorize, “Prelude to a Kiss” combines elements from the romance, drama, and fantasy genres to tell an unusual tale. Ryan plays Rita Boyle, a woman who falls for Alec Baldwin’s Peter Hoskins. However, on the day of their wedding, Boyle shares a kiss with an elderly man and the two swap spirits. Like we said, unusual. A dramatic take on the body swap storytelling device, Ryan and Baldwin find a way to make it work, with Variety’s Todd McCarthy calling the duo a “winning pair.” “Prelude to a Kiss” is the kind of film you’ll be thinking about long after the credits have rolled.

#3: “You’ve Got Mail” (1998)

There will be no big surprises in our top three picks, but that hardly diminishes the satisfaction of reliving three of Meg Ryan’s greatest performances! “You’ve Got Mail” once again brought together the enigmatic pair of Ryan and Tom Hanks. This time around the two play
business rivals who enter into an online relationship, with no idea that the person they’re falling in love with is the same one trying to destroy their professional life. The film was a massive box office success, no doubt due to the chemistry between the lead actors. It’s impossible to watch this film and not swoon over Hanks and Ryan’s on-screen relationship!

#2: “Sleepless in Seattle” (1993)

Okay, can these two just get married already? The last of the Meg Ryan-Tom Hanks films on our list, “Sleepless in Seattle” is objectively their best movie together. The film, which tells the story of a widowed architect who finds love with the help of his son and a radio program, garnered rave reviews from critics. Roger Ebert called it “warm and gentle” and admitted that he “smiled the whole way through.” High praise from one of the industry’s best! Hanks and Ryan were both nominated for Golden Globes and the film picked up a Best Original Screenplay nomination at the 66th Academy Awards.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are some honorable mentions:

“Addicted to Love” (1997)

“Promised Land” (1987)

“Restoration” (1995)

“I.Q.” (1994)

#1: “When Harry Met Sally…” (1989)

In the pantheon of Meg Ryan romance movies, one film stands alone. “When Harry Met Sally…” is one of the best rom-coms ever made. It picked up five Golden Globe nominations and has been featured on numerous “Best Of” lists since its release. Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan are superb, the script is intelligent and though-provoking, and the direction of Rob Reiner is as sharp as ever. The film’s enduring legacy is a testament to both the ubiquity of the narrative and the likability of the lead actors. But honestly, we just love Meg Ryan!

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