Beautiful homes. Epic Hans Zimmer scores. White women in all–white outfits. Lots of white wine. Divorce. Diane Keaton.
If you’re watching a movie and these themes pop up, chances are you’re watching a Nancy Meyers film. Long before the Marvel Cinematic Universe existed, another reigned supreme: the Nancy Meyers Universe.
After over 40 years working in male–dominated Hollywood, Meyers has earned her title as the "Queen of Rom–Coms," writing and directing many now–classic films, such as The Parent Trap, It’s Complicated, The Intern, Something’s Gotta Give, and The Holiday. While her mid–budget comedies have been recognized in the form of box–office successes rather than awards, Nancy Meyers' movies are nonetheless massive cinematic achievements. Although all of her films are distinct stories, each one is undeniably a Meyers flick, oozing with comfort and full of bubbly moments to enjoy. Following in the footsteps of romantic comedy legend Nora Ephron, Nancy Meyers has created her own sub–universe of rom–coms: The lead is almost always a career–focused woman, often played by older actresses like a Diane Keaton (Meyers’ muse, who's starred in four of her films) or a Meryl Streep type, who never looks for love but stumbles upon it. There's a lightness and breeze to Meyers’ movies, where you know going in that all wrongs will be made right by the end, through love and screwball antics.
After a long hiatus—her most recent directorial work being The Intern in 2015—Nancy Meyers is back! Netflix announced in early April that Meyers will write, direct, and produce a new original feature film for the studio. While there’s no casting, title, or logline available so far, now's a great time to look back at her work and see what to expect and hope for from the next installment in the Nancy Meyers Universe.
Most Nancy Meyers films focus on successful, wealthy women who have gorgeous homes and killer kitchens. In particular, kitchens have become a Meyers trademark; they serve as her films’ most spectacular backdrops, creating a lavish yet homey atmosphere. It’s unlikely for a Meyers film to include CGI and dozens of locations around the globe. Instead, the budget is concentrated on expensive and desirable homes where most of the story unfolds. The characters in Meyers’ films are rich and have money to spend, and while this may not make her films relatable, the settings become a sort of fantasy that's impossible to look away from. In some instances, a Nancy Meyers kitchen with its massive granite island and farmhouse sink, surrounded by a lush garden ripe with vegetables, might be a film’s most stunning shots. Meyers skews toward sophisticated and highbrow characters, so expect her upcoming film to be either on the East Coast, West Coast, or some romantic city like Paris or London.
As well–written as they can be, Meyers' films would be lackluster without their incredible scores, often accompanying their most pivotal and climactic moments. Meyers has worked with multiple composers over the years, but no partnership has been as fruitful and long–lasting as her collaboration with Hans Zimmer. He's produced the music for three of her films: It’s Complicated, Something’s Gotta Give, and The Holiday. Zimmer, who’s most known for creating the soundtrack of action blockbusters, shines in the rom–com genre as well. In fact, I’d argue that some of his finest work is with Nancy Meyers, namely The Holiday, which is so joyful and uses its score so effectively for the final emotional beats. Without too many spoilers, Cameron Diaz’s Amanda Woods runs back to meet someone in The Holiday’s climax, and without Zimmer’s heartwarming score, this scene would hold little emotional bearing. Right now, Zimmer is busy creating the music for Dune: Part Two, but hopefully he finds time to team up with Meyers once again.
Nancy Meyers’ films have attracted some of the greatest actors and actresses ever, including Robert De Niro, Jack Nicholson, Kate Winslet, Steve Martin, and the aforementioned Keaton and Streep. It’s no wonder, as her writing is hilarious, romantic, and tender. In an industry that writes few roles for women over 40 and instead focuses on younger actresses, Meyers is the exception. For her next film, expect a charming, witty, and extremely talented actress full of moxie as the lead, joined by an A–list ensemble. I’d be personally delighted to get Julia Roberts, Halle Berry, Cate Blanchett, Viola Davis, Jane Fonda, Michelle Yeoh, or any top actress as the lead. With past supporting casts including love interests like Keanu Reeves and Jude Law or comedic reliefs like John Krasinski and Frances McDormand, it’d be spectacular to get some of Hollywood’s most talented actors like Kristen Stewart, Zendaya, Timothée Chalamet, Lupita Nyong’o, Michael B. Jordan, Kathryn Hahn, and so many more.
An issue many have noted in Meyers’ films is that her casts are nearly always all–white; in fact, there's reportedly only five minutes of dialogue spoken by a person of color in Meyers’ six most famous films.
While no one is forcing Meyers to write a more diverse film, it would nevertheless be great to see a story that includes more than just white characters. I’d love to see Viola Davis take a spin at a romantic comedy or have Denzel Washington play the romantic lead.
A Nancy Meyers film would not be complete without thrilling, cathartic moments. Meyers has truly mastered the perfect breakdown, the perfect romantic date, and the perfect “screw you” monologue. Her films might not be life–changing, but they’re a fun form of escapism, which is sometimes all a film needs to deliver.
There’s still lots of time before Nancy Meyers’ newest film starts shooting. Regardless, in a field of thousands of mediocre rom–coms that are released each year, Meyers’ upcoming film will be a welcome return to form for romantic comedies with moving and riveting stories.