Celebrity passings don't usually get to me, but Nora Ephron's hit me harder on two accounts: She was too young, and she made such great contributions to film history. Ephron was one of the few female commercial directors out there. When her films were good, they were very very good. I count When Harry Met Sally... as one of my favorite films, and Sleepless in Seattle, the underrated You've Got Mail, and Julie & Julia are all up there.
With her romantic comedies, Ephron pulled off an increasingly rare achievement: making the audience believe and understand why the characters weren't together...yet. So often in romantic comedies, I think 'Just get together already.' Her characters had to grow and heal as individuals before they could be together as a couple. Their initial dislike or skepticism of each other burns as a slow simmer. Ephron was a remarkable filmmaker, a funny writer (I liked I Feel Bad About My Neck even though I'm decades away from a saggy neck), and as the New York Times obituary attests, a genuinely nice person. I hear there aren't too many of those in Hollywood.
Eprhon was a writer loved by writers, so it's no wonder the Internet has seen a flurry of articles commemorating her passing. Here are a few responses from around the web.
Slate compiles three memorable clips from her movies and their writer Emily Yoffe reflects on "Growing Up with Nora Ephron." Focusing on Ephron's writing career, Thinkprogress.org presents the piece "Remembering Nora Ephron, And How Her Essays Made Her Movies Better." New York Magazine talks about the Ephron-Lena Dunham connection and links to Ephron's pieces that appeared in the magazine.
There are too many great Ephron-written scenes to count, but I always think of the emotional whiplash present in the "Surrey with the Fringe on the Top" karaoke scene in When Harry Met Sally... One minute, Harry and Sally are a budding couple. The next, Harry shows himself to be still distraught over his ex, not to mention publically mortified over their bad karaoke skills. There's so much happening, but so little dialogue. Ephron may have written great back-and-forth exchanges, but she also knew when to shut up. Revisit that scene below.