As Good as It Gets
As Good as It Gets

Theatrical release poster
Directed by James L. Brooks
Produced by James L. Brooks
Bridget Johnson
Kristi Zea
Laura Ziskin (executive)
Screenplay by Mark Andrus
James L. Brooks
Story by Mark Andrus
Starring Jack Nicholson
Helen Hunt
Greg Kinnear
Cuba Gooding, Jr.
Shirley Knight
Skeet Ulrich
Yeardley Smith
Lupe Ontiveros
Music by Hans Zimmer
Cinematography John Bailey
Editing by Richard Marks
Studio Gracie Films
Distributed by TriStar Pictures
Release date(s) December 25, 1997 (1997-12-25)
Running time 139 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $50 million[1]
Box office $314,178,011[1]

As Good as It Gets is a 1997 American romantic comedy film directed by James L. Brooks and produced by Laura Ziskin. It stars Jack Nicholson as a misanthropic, obsessive-compulsive novelist, Helen Hunt as a single mother with an asthmatic son, and Greg Kinnear as a gay artist. The screenplay was written by Mark Andrus and James L. Brooks.

Both Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt won the Academy Award for Best Actor and Academy Award for Best Actress, respectively, making As Good As It Gets the latest film to win both of the lead acting awards, and the first since 1991. It is ranked 140th on Empire magazine's "The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time" list.[2]

Contents

Plot

Melvin Udall is a misanthrope who works at home as a best-selling novelist in New York City. He suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder which, paired with his misanthropy, puts off the neighbors in his Manhattan apartment building and nearly everyone else with whom he comes into contact. He eats breakfast at the same table in the same restaurant every day using disposable plastic utensils he brings with him due to his pathological germophobia. He takes an interest in his waitress, Carol Connelly (Helen Hunt), the only server at the restaurant who can tolerate his behavior.

One day, Melvin's neighbor, a gay artist named Simon Bishop (Greg Kinnear), is assaulted. Melvin is forced to take care of the artist's dog Verdell while Simon is in the hospital. Although he initially finds caring for the dog distasteful, Melvin becomes emotionally attached to Verdell, and he also gains more attention from Carol. When Simon comes home Melvin has to return the dog, a situation he is unable to cope with. He rushes to his psychiatrist who throws him out since he has not made an appointment. On his way out, Melvin turns to the other patients in the waiting room and says, "What if this is as good as it gets?"

Melvin's life is further altered when Carol decides to get a job closer to Brooklyn so she can spend more time with her acutely asthmatic son (Jesse James). Unable to adjust to another waitress, Melvin arranges to pay for her son's medical expenses. Wary of owing Melvin for this gesture, Carol takes the train to his apartment in the middle of the night to tell him that she will not sleep with him.

In the meantime, Simon's assault and rehabilitation, coupled with Verdell's preference for Melvin, causes Simon to lose his creative muse. His agent, Frank Sachs (Cuba Gooding, Jr.), seeing Simon has no medical insurance and mounting hospital bills, and is facing eviction due to unpaid rent, convinces Simon to go to Baltimore and ask his estranged parents for money. Frank offers Melvin use of his car for the trip. Melvin invites Carol to accompany them on the trip to lessen the awkwardness. She reluctantly accepts the invitation and relationships among the three develop. Once in Baltimore, Carol agrees to have dinner with Melvin. The date ends in disaster; however, upon seeing the frustrated Carol reenter the apartment, Simon begins to sketch her and rekindles his creativity, once more feeling a desire to paint. He briefly reconnects with his parents, but is able to tell them that he'll be fine.

After returning to New York City, Carol tells Melvin that she does not want him in her life anymore. She later regrets her statement and calls him to apologize. The relationship between Melvin and Carol remains complicated until Simon, whom Melvin has allowed to move in with him until he can get a new apartment, convinces Melvin to declare his love for her at her apartment in Brooklyn, where the two realize the depth of their personal connection. The film ends with Melvin and Carol taking a walk together to buy fresh rolls at the corner bakery.

Primary cast

Soundtrack

As Good as It Gets
Soundtrack album by Hans Zimmer and various artists
Released 13 January 1998
Label Sony Records

The soundtrack features instrumental pieces composed by Hans Zimmer and songs by various artists.

Track listing

  1. "As Good as It Gets" (Hans Zimmer)
  2. "A Better Man" (Zimmer)
  3. "Humanity" (Zimmer)
  4. "Too Much Reality" (Zimmer)
  5. "1.2.3.4.5" (Zimmer)
  6. "Greatest Woman on Earth" (Zimmer)
  7. "Everything My Heart Desires" (Danielle Brisebois)
  8. "Under Stars" (Phil Roy)
  9. "My Only" (Danielle Brisebois)
  10. "For Sentimental Reasons (I Love You)" (Nat King Cole)
  11. "Hand on My Heart" (Judith Owen)
  12. "Climb on (A Back That's Strong)" (Shawn Colvin)
  13. "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" (Art Garfunkel)

Reception

The film received generally positive reviews from film critics and was nominated for and received many film awards, including an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture and a Golden Globe award for Best Picture-Music or Comedy. Review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes reports that 86% of professional critics have given the film a positive review based on 75 reviews. The film has an 88% score from the website's top critics.[3] Metacritic, a web site that evaluates films by averaging its overall critical response, gave the film a metascore of 67, signifying generally favorable reviews.[4] The film's two lead actors, Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt, both received Academy and Golden Globe awards for their performances. Chicago Reader film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum wrote that what director James Brooks "Manages to do with (the characters) as they struggle mightily to connect with one another is funny, painful, beautiful, and basically truthful-a triumph for everyone involved."[5]

However, praise for the film was not uniform among critics. Roger Ebert gave the film three stars (out of four) and called the film a "compromise, a film that forces a smile onto material that doesn't wear one easily," writing that the film drew "back to story formulas," but had good dialog and performances.[6] Washington Post critic Desson Howe gave a generally negative review of the movie, writing that it "gets bogged down in sentimentality, while its wheels spin futilely in life-solving overdrive."[7]

As Good as It Gets was also a box office hit, opening at number three in the box office (behind Titanic and Tomorrow Never Dies) with $12.6 million,[8] and eventually earning over $148 million domestically and $314 million worldwide.[1] It is Jack Nicholson's second most lucrative film, behind Batman.[9]

Awards

Organizations

Organization Category Recipients and nominees Result
Academy Awards Best Actor in a Leading Role Jack Nicholson Won
Best Actress in a Leading Role Helen Hunt Won
Best Actor in a Supporting Role Greg Kinnear Nominated
Best Editing Richard Marks Nominated
Best Picture James L. Brooks, Bridget Johnson and Kristi Zea Nominated
Best Original Score – Musical or Comedy Hans Zimmer Nominated
Best Screenplay – Original Mark Andrus and James L. Brooks Nominated
ALMA Awards Outstanding Actress in a Film Lupe Ontiveros Nominated
Chlotrudis Awards Best Actress in a Leading Role Helen Hunt Nominated
Czech Lions Best Foreign Language Film James L. Brooks Nominated
GLAAD Media Awards Outstanding Film – Wide Release Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Actor in a Leading Role – Musical or Comedy Jack Nicholson Won
Best Actress in a Leading Role – Musical or Comedy Helen Hunt Won
Best Actor in a Supporting Role Greg Kinnear Nominated
Best Director James L. Brooks Nominated
Best Film – Musical or Comedy Won
Best Screenplay Mark Andrus and James L. Brooks Nominated
MTV Movie Awards Best Performance – Female Helen Hunt Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Actor in a Leading Role – Musical or Comedy Jack Nicholson Won
Best Actress in a Leading Role – Musical or Comedy Helen Hunt Won
Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Musical or Comedy Cuba Gooding, Jr. Nominated
Greg Kinnear Nominated
Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Musical or Comedy Shirley Knight Nominated
Best Film – Musical or Comedy James L. Brooks, Bridget Johnson and Kristi Zea Won

Guilds

Guild Category Recipients and nominees Result
American Cinema Editors Best Edited Film Richard Marks Nominated
Casting Society of America Best Casting – Comedy Film Francine Maisler Nominated
Directors Guild of America Outstanding Directing – Motion Pictures James L. Brooks Nominated
Motion Picture Sound Editors Best Sound Editing – Music (Domestic and Foreign) Nominated
Producers Guild of America Motion Picture Producer of the Year James L. Brooks, Bridget Johnson and Kristi Zea Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Actor in a Leading Role Jack Nicholson Won
Outstanding Actor in a Supporting Role Greg Kinnear Nominated
Outstanding Actress in a Leading Role Helen Hunt Won
Writers Guild of America Best Screenplay – Written Directly for the Screen Mark Andrus and James L. Brooks Won

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c "Box office statistics for As Good As It Gets (1997)" Box Office Mojo. Retrieved June 11, 2010.
  2. ^ "Empire Features". Empireonline.com. http://www.empireonline.com/500/71.asp. Retrieved 2009-10-17. 
  3. ^ Rotten Tomatoes Retrieved on January 11, 2010
  4. ^ Metacritic Retrieved on January 7, 2009
  5. ^ Chicago Reader review. Retrieved on January 7, 2009
  6. ^ Roger Ebert review Retrieved on January 7, 2009
  7. ^ Washington Post review. Retrieved on January 7, 2009
  8. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for December 26–28, 1997". Box Office Mojo. http://boxofficemojo.com/weekend/chart/?yr=1997&wknd=52&p=.htm. Retrieved 2009-07-06. 
  9. ^ "Batman (1989)". Box Office Mojo. http://boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=batman.htm. Retrieved 2009-07-06. 

External links

Awards
Preceded by
The Silence of the Lambs
Academy Award winner for Best Actor and Best Actress Succeeded by
No film has achieved this since "As Good as it Gets"

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