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Lessons Learned From Nora Ephron

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Nora Ephron is an icon for women, for writers and for feminism. Her passing marks the loss of one of our greatest heroes.

Ephron dominated the male-run industries of journalism, publishing, Broadway and Hollywood, earning the accolades and awards of her male peers and practically inventing a genre that remains the most successful in all of film: the romantic comedy. And Ephron made rom-com an artform, exploring deep issues of female friendship, death, divorce, single motherhood and unconventional love in all its forms. Her success as a humor writer stands as a permanent rebuttal to any chauvanist writer who decides to script another "women aren't funny" headline. And every time a sexist film masquerading as a romantic comedy sweeps the nation, we're comforted by her canon of thoughtful, provocative and heartfelt films.

To celebrate her life and her work, here are a few of the best lessons we've learned through Nora Ephron films, every one of them worth viewing for a gazillionth time.

When Harry Met Sally
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Falling in love with your best friend doesn't have to be all mopey pining or an impossible love triangle where one woman always loses. Ephron's most successful film consistently makes critics' best lists and remains a cultural talking point even today for its smart, honest take on guy and girl relationships.

Sleepless In Seattle
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Love isn't hopeless and finding it is worth the journey. Happy endings are only trite when you don't even root for the characters. Not the case here. Tearjerkers often pander. This one draws emotions legitimately.

Julie & Julia
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Women aren't perfect, no matter how iconic. The juxtaposition of a scattered, down-on-her-luck writer's attempt to cook all of Julia Child's famous recipes and the life of the larger-than-life chef served as a brilliant critique on a woman's pursuit of happiness. For one, it was escaping from the mundane; for the other, it was embracing her greatness and taking on an industry dominated by men.

Hanging Up
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Sexy comes at any age. Not her greatest hit, but only Ephron could give Diane Keaton, Meg Ryan and Lisa Kudrow equally juicy and feminine roles to play. It's hard to make any of these ladies look less than gorgeous, but Ephron emphasizes each of them on purpose. Bonus lesson: Sisters are stronger when they come together.

My Blue Heaven
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Women aren't just funny, they may be even funnier than men. How else can you explain Ephron writing, directing and producing Steve Martin in one of his best schtick roles?

Originally published at sexyfeminist.com