Rom-Com Royalty: 10 Julia Roberts & Meg Ryan Classics for Your 90s Valentine’s Day

Rom-Com Royalty Feature

When I think about Romantic Comedies (rom-com) in the 90s two actresses come to mind, Julia Roberts and Meg Ryan. They are the rom-com queens of the 90s.

Interestingly they also starred with the same actor in half their movies. Meg Ryan’s king is Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts’ king is Richard Gere.

Ryan and Hanks starred in three movies together. I would swear it was at least ten times that many!

Let’s take a look at the Romantic Comedies that earned both actress the title of “America’s Sweetheart” in the 1990s.

Meg Ryan

When Harry Met Sally… (1989)

Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan star in this classic about two friends who debate whether men and women can truly be friends, all while navigating their own complicated feelings for each other.

Meg Ryan had a small part in Top Gun as Goose’s wife and stared in a few other movies before When Harry Met Sally. Her portrayal of Sally and the diner scene helped launch her career.

Joe vs the Volcano (1990)

Joe vs the Volcano

Ryan followed When Harry Met Sally with Joe Versus the Volcano. This is my favorite movie on the Meg Ryan list.

Ryan stars with Tom Hanks, back when he was still making comedies and wasn’t ’America’s Dad’. It’s an offbeat comedy that doesn’t get great reviews but it’s a great comedy and love story.

Joe Banks (Hanks) is diagnosed with an incurable and fatal disease called a ‘Brain cloud’. Banks is convinced by a rich businessman, Graynamore to jump into a volcano on the island of Waponi Woo to appease the fire gods. Graynamore wants the resources on Waponi Woo to manufacture superconductors.

Ryan plays a few parts one of which is the captain of the yacht sailing Banks to Waponi Woo. Through their adventures sailing to the island they fall in love.

Joe Versus the Volcano is a quirky love story that will make you smile. I still use the term ‘brain cloud’ whenever I have a forgetful moment.

Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

Sleepless in Seattle

Once again, Hanks and Ryan star in a rom-com.

Tom Hanks is a widowed architect who leaves messages on a radio talk show about his grief and his young son’s desire for a new mother. Meg Ryan plays a Baltimore reporter who hears the messages and feels compelled to reach out.

Sleepless in Seattle was a huge hit and helped solidify Ryan as ‘America’s Sweetheart’. I enjoyed it when I watched it back in the 90s but it’s not one I revisit.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. If you haven’t seen Sleepless in Seattle it’s a must watch for any 90s movie fan. It stars two of the biggest names in Hollywood at the time.

When a Man Loves a Woman (1994)

When a Man loves a woman

This one is a bit of an outlier because it’s not a rom-com, not even close. It is however a fantastic love story, albeit a gritty, messy love story.

Meg Ryan and Andy Garcia star as married couple Alice and Micheal Green. Alice is an alcoholic and the movie revolves around how her alcoholism affects her family, friends and her own life.

Underneath it all is the love story of Alice and Michael and how they struggle to keep their marriage and love intact while everything seems to be collapsing around them.

When A Man Loves A Woman is a look at the ‘for worse’ part of wedding vows. It will have you crying more than laughing. But it’s a beautifully told story everyone should watch.

French Kiss (1995)

French Kiss

I’ve never seen this movie but after watching the trailer it looks like a fun rom-com.

From the online synopsis… Meg Ryan plays Kate who flies to France to confront her straying fiancé and gets into trouble when the charming crook (Kevin Kline) seated next to her uses her to smuggle a stolen diamond necklace.

French Kiss was directed by Lawrence Kasden, the man who wrote iconic 80s movies including; The Empire Strikes Back, The Raiders of the Lost Ark and Return of the Jedi. I need to add this one to my watch list.

If you’ve seen it let me know.

You’ve Got Mail (1998)

Youve Got Mail

Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan team up again in this charming romantic comedy about two people who fall in love online without realizing they are actually business rivals in real life.

AOL was huge in the late 90s. It seemed like the entire world had an AOL account. They tried (and succeeded for awhile) to be the gateway to the internet. You could find an AOL membership CD everywhere. Magazines, store checkout lanes, bus stops, laying on the ground and your mailbox.

The one thing that everyone seemed to know, whether an AOL member or not was the ubiquitous ‘You’ve Got Mail’ sound clip. That’s were the title of the movie comes from as well.

You’ve Got Mail is a cute movie. Hanks and Ryan are charming as always.

Julia Roberts

Pretty Woman (1990)

Pretty Woman Julia Roberts

Julia Roberts plays Vivian, a Hollywood prostitute who is hired by Edward (Richard Gere), a wealthy businessman, to be his escort for a week. She’s hired to accompany Edward to various business and social functions so he doesn’t’ have to go alone.

Over the course of the week their business arrangement turns into an actual relationship adding emotional tension they both agreed to avoid. It’s a interesting re-telling of the Cinderella story. Once the movie gets going the prostitute angle is mostly down played to a more ‘fish out of water’ angle.

Roberts was relatively unknown at the time but this movie made her a star. Pretty Woman was a blockbuster hit, the third highest grossing movie in 1990 behind Ghost and Home Alone.

Roberts won the Golden Globe for Best Actress and was nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award. If you haven’t seen this go watch it now.

My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997)

My Best Friends wedding Julia Roberts

Julia Roberts is Julianne “Jules”, a food critic who realizes she is in love with her best friend Michael (Dermot Mulroney) on the day he is about to get married. She sets out to stop the wedding and win him over.

My Best Friend’s Wedding is a good movie that doesn’t follow the rom-com trope to closely. Jules and Michael are life long best friends and when Michael is about to get married Jules realizes she loves him and wants to marry him. Jules meets Kimmy, the bride-to-be, played by Cameron Diaz and decides to sabotage the relationship.

There is a happy ending but is it Kimmy and Michael or Jules and Michael? You’ll have to watch to find out.

My Best Friend’s Wedding was also a blockbuster, hitting #8 for highest grossing movie of 1997. Roberts also received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress.

Notting Hill (1999)

Notting Hill Julia Roberts

Hugh Grant stars as William, a shy bookstore owner in London whose life is turned upside down when famous Hollywood actress Anna Scott (Julia Roberts) walks into his shop.

I only saw this movie one time. It’s a decent movie. Will and Anna meet, they fall for each other. Anna has a boyfriend and breaks Will’s heart. Six months later, Anna rushes back to Will and they fall in love all over again.

Roberts and Grant were big names in Hollywood in 1999 which helped propel this movie to blockbuster status. It landed at #7 highest grossing movies of 1999. Roberts received another Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress.

Runaway Bride (1999)

Runaway Bride Julia Roberts

Roberts and Gere team up one more time in Runaway Bride.

Julia Roberts plays Maggie, a woman who habitually runs away on her wedding day. Gere play Ike, a New York reporter sent to Maggie’s hometown to write a story on ‘The Runaway Bride’.

That’s about all I remember about this movie. I saw it one time in the theater and never again. It was a critical failure but a box office success.


Meg Ryan and Julia Roberts were box office gold in the 90s. Julia Roberts four movies listed above made $1.4 billion, that’s $2.7 billion in 2024 dollars.

That rounds out the movies for the rom-com queens. Who is your favorite actress? Which movie is your favorite?

Grab some popcorn, snuggle up and enjoy a nostalgic trip down memory lane with these classic 90s rom-coms!

Let me know in the comments or on Twitter (@MileHighSamurai) or (@TRNSocial) your favorite 80s rom-com.

About Pitfall Gary 127 Articles
Just your average Gen X'er. Born in the 70s and raised in the Decade of Decadence! I rode my bike without a helmet and was home when the street lights came on. I love to reminisce about the good ol' days; Movies, TV, music, if it happened in my childhood I'll share it with you.


  1. I have seen French Kiss and I think it is definitely worth the watch within this category. Another Meg Ryan co-starring film from the ’90s you could add to the list is I.Q.

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