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As Good as It Gets is a 1997 American romantic comedy film directed by James L. Brooks. It stars Jack Nicholson as a misanthropic and obsessive-compulsive novelist, Helen Hunt as a single mother with a chronically ill son, and Greg Kinnear as a gay artist. The screenplay was written by Mark Andrus and Brooks. The paintings were created for the film by New York artist Billy Sullivan.[2]

As Good as It Gets
As good as it gets.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by James L. Brooks
Produced by
  • James L. Brooks
  • Bridget Johnson
  • Kristi Zea
Screenplay by
Story by Mark Andrus
Music by Hans Zimmer
Cinematography John Bailey
Edited by Richard Marks
Distributed by TriStar Pictures
Release date
  • December 23, 1997 (1997-12-23)
Running time
139 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $50 million[1]
Box office $314.1 million[1]

Nicholson and Hunt won the Academy Award for Best Actor and Best Actress, respectively, making As Good As It Gets the most recent film to win both of the lead acting awards, and the first since 1991's The Silence of the Lambs. It is ranked 140th on Empire magazine's "The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time" list.[3]



Melvin Udall is a misanthrope who works at home as a best-selling novelist in New York City. He has obsessive–compulsive disorder which, paired with his misanthropy, alienates nearly everyone with whom he interacts. He avoids stepping on sidewalk cracks while walking through the city due to a superstition of bad luck, and eats breakfast at the same table in the same restaurant every day using disposable plastic utensils he brings with him due to his pathological fear of germs. He takes an interest in his waitress, Carol Connelly, the only server at the restaurant who can tolerate his behavior.

One day, Melvin's apartment neighbor, a gay artist named Simon Bishop, is assaulted and nearly killed during a robbery. Melvin is intimidated by Simon's agent, Frank Sachs, into caring for Simon's dog, Verdell, while Simon is hospitalized. Although he initially does not enjoy caring for the dog, Melvin becomes emotionally attached to it. He simultaneously receives more attention from Carol. When Simon is released from the hospital, Melvin is unable to cope emotionally with returning the dog. Melvin's life is further altered when Carol decides to work closer to her home in Brooklyn so she can care for her acutely asthmatic son Spencer ("Spence"). Unable to adjust to another waitress, Melvin arranges through his publisher, whose husband is a doctor, to pay for her son's considerable medical expenses as long as Carol agrees to return to work. She is overwhelmed at his generosity, but is adamant that she will not sleep with Melvin.

Meanwhile, Simon's assault and rehabilitation, coupled with Verdell's preference for Melvin, causes Simon to lose his creative muse. Simon is approaching bankruptcy due to his medical bills. Frank persuades him to go to Baltimore to ask his estranged parents for money. Because Frank is too busy to take the injured Simon to Baltimore himself, Melvin reluctantly agrees to do so; Frank lends Melvin the use of his Saab 900 convertible 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 persuades Melvin to take her out to have dinner. Melvin's comments during the dinner greatly flatter—and subsequently upset—Carol, and she abruptly leaves. Upon seeing the frustrated Carol, Simon begins to sketch her semi-nude in his hotel room 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, 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 fully heal from his injuries and get a new apartment) persuades Melvin to declare his love for her. Melvin goes to see Carol, who is hesitant, but agrees to try and establish a relationship with him. The film ends with Melvin and Carol walking together. As he opens the door at an early morning pastry shop for Carol, he realizes that he has stepped on a crack in the pavement, but doesn't seem to mind.



In 1996, James L. Brooks flew Geoffrey Rush from Sydney to Los Angeles to audition for the part of Simon Bishop, and offered him the role, but Rush declined it.[4]


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

The soundtrack features instrumental pieces composed by Hans Zimmer and songs by various artists. Zimmer's work was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Score – Musical or Comedy.

  1. "As Good as It Gets" – Zimmer
  2. "A Better Man" – Zimmer
  3. "Humanity" – Zimmer
  4. "Too Much Reality" – Zimmer
  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" – Eric Idle


Box officeEdit

As Good as It Gets was also a box office hit, opening at number three at the box office (behind Titanic and Tomorrow Never Dies) with $12.6 million,[5] and eventually earning over $148 million domestically and $314 million worldwide.[1] It is Jack Nicholson's second most lucrative film, behind Batman.[6]

Critical receptionEdit

Review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes reports that 84% of professional critics gave the film a positive review based on 77 reviews.[7] Metacritic, a web site that evaluates films by averaging their overall critical response, gave the film a metascore of 67, signifying generally favorable reviews.[8] The film's two lead actors, Nicholson and 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."[9]

However, praise for the film was not uniform among critics. While Roger Ebert gave the film three stars (out of four), he 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.[10] Washington Post critic Desson Howe gave a generally negative review of the film, writing that it "gets bogged down in sentimentality, while its wheels spin futilely in life-solving overdrive."[11]


The film received generally positive reviews from 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.

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
Czech Lion Awards 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
List of awards from 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


  1. ^ a b c "Box office statistics for As Good As It Gets (1997)" Box Office Mojo. Retrieved June 11, 2010.
  2. ^ "As Good As It Gets (1997) - James L. Brooks - Synopsis, Characteristics, Moods, Themes and Related - AllMovie". 
  3. ^ "Empire Features". Empire. Retrieved October 17, 2009. 
  4. ^ Douglas Aiton, "10 Things You Didn't Know About Geoffrey Rush", Weekend Australian Magazine, 4–5 September 2004, p. 12
  5. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for December 26–28, 1997". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 6, 2009. 
  6. ^ "Batman (1989)". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on June 11, 2009. Retrieved July 6, 2009. 
  7. ^ Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 11, 2010
  8. ^ Metacritic. Retrieved January 7, 2009
  9. ^ Chicago Reader review. Retrieved January 7, 2009
  10. ^ Roger Ebert review. Retrieved January 7, 2009
  11. ^ Washington Post review. Retrieved January 7, 2009

External linksEdit