As Good as It Gets

Last updated

As Good as It Gets
As good as it gets.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by James L. Brooks
Screenplay by
Story byMark Andrus
Produced by
  • James L. Brooks
  • Bridget Johnson
  • Kristi Zea
Cinematography John Bailey
Edited by Richard Marks
Music by Hans Zimmer
Distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing
Release dates
Running time
139 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$50 million [1]
Box office$314.1 million [1]

As Good as It Gets is a 1997 American romantic comedy-drama film directed by James L. Brooks, who co-wrote it with Mark Andrus. The film stars Jack Nicholson as a misanthropic, bigoted, and obsessive–compulsive novelist, Helen Hunt as a single mother with a chronically ill son, and Greg Kinnear as an artist who is gay. The film premiered in Regency Village Theatre on December 6, 1997, and was released in theaters on December 25, 1997, and was a box office hit, grossing $314.1 million on a $50 million budget.


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 was also nominated for Best Picture but ultimately lost to Titanic . It is ranked 140th on Empire magazine's "The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time" list. [2]


Misanthropic New York City best-selling romance novelist Melvin Udall has obsessive–compulsive disorder; he uses soap bars to wash his hands only once, dislikes touching pets, avoids stepping on sidewalk cracks while walking through the city, and eats his breakfast at the same table in the same restaurant. He takes an interest in his waitress, Carol Connelly, the only server at the restaurant who can tolerate his uncouth behavior.

One day, Melvin's apartment neighbor, gay artist Simon Bishop, is assaulted and nearly killed during a robbery. Simon's agent, Frank Sachs, intimidates Melvin into caring for Simon's Griffon Bruxellois, Verdell, while he is hospitalized. Although he initially does not enjoy caring for the dog, Melvin becomes emotionally attached to it, simultaneously receiving 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. Unable to adjust to a different 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 but doubts his generosity.

Meanwhile, Simon's assault and rehabilitation, coupled with Verdell's preference for Melvin, causes Simon to lose his creative muse and fall into a depression. With no medical insurance, he 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, and relationships among the three develop.

Once in Baltimore, Carol persuades Melvin to take her out for dinner. Melvin's comments during the dinner greatly flatter—and subsequently upset—Carol, and she abruptly leaves. Upon seeing her, frustrated, Simon begins to sketch her, semi-nude, in his hotel room, which rekindles his creativity, and he once more feels a desire to paint. He briefly reconnects with his mother, but is able to tell her that he will be fine.

After returning to New York, Carol tells Melvin that she does not want him in her life anymore, but later regrets her statement and calls to apologize. The relationship between Melvin and Carol remains complicated, until Simon (whom Melvin has allowed to move in with him, as his apartment has been sublet) persuades Melvin to declare his love for her. Melvin goes to see Carol, who hesitantly 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 does not 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. [3] Betty White was offered a role in the film but she declined, due to a scene in the film where a dog is thrown into a trash chute. [4]

Owen Wilson served as associate producer, one of his first jobs in Hollywood. [5]

Nicholson and Brooks clashed on set regarding Nicholson's performance of Melvin, leading to a production halt for the two to find the correct tone for the character. [6]

The paintings were created for the film by New York artist Billy Sullivan. [7]


As Good as It Gets
Soundtrack album by
Hans Zimmer and various artists
ReleasedJanuary 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.


Box office

As Good as It Gets was a box office hit, opening at number three at the box office (behind Titanic and Tomorrow Never Dies ) with $12.6 million, [8] [9] and eventually earning over $148 million domestically and $314 million worldwide. [1] It is Jack Nicholson's second highest earning film, behind Batman . [10]

Home Video

The film has been released widely on VHS, LaserDisc and DVD. It was released on Blu-ray in the United States on June 12, 2012 as part of Twilight Time's Screen Archives collection. The set was limited to 3,000 units and sold out quickly. [11] It was released more widely in European countries.

Sony Pictures will release the film on 4K UHD Blu-ray on October 25, 2022 as part of its Columbia Classics 4K Ultra HD Collection Volume 3, along with It Happened One Night; From here To Eternity; To Sir, With Love; The Last Picture Show and Annie. It will contain exclusive never-before-seen bonus features. [12]

Critical reception

Chicago Reader film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum wrote that what director James L. 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." [13]

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 dialogue and performances. [14] The 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." [15]

Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 85% of professional critics gave the film a positive review based on 79 reviews, with an average rating of 7.30/10. The consensus states: "James L. Brooks and Jack Nicholson, doing what they do best, combine smart dialogue and flawless acting to squeeze fresh entertainment value out of the romantic-comedy genre." [16] Metacritic gave the film a score of 67 out of 100, based on reviews from 30 critics, indicating generally favorable reviews. [17]


20/20 AwardsBest PictureNominated
Best Director James L. Brooks Nominated
Best Actor Jack Nicholson Won
Best Actress Helen Hunt Won
Best Original Screenplay Mark Andrus and James L. BrooksNominated
Academy Awards [18] Best Picture James L. Brooks, Bridget Johnson and Kristi Zea Nominated
Best Actor Jack NicholsonWon
Best Actress Helen HuntWon
Best Supporting Actor Greg Kinnear Nominated
Best Screenplay – Written Directly for the Screen Mark Andrus and James L. BrooksNominated
Best Film Editing Richard Marks Nominated
Best Original Musical or Comedy Score Hans Zimmer Nominated
ALMA Awards Outstanding Actress in a Feature Film Lupe Ontiveros Nominated
American Cinema Editors Awards Best Edited Feature Film Richard MarksNominated
American Comedy Awards Funniest Actor in a Motion Picture (Leading Role)Jack NicholsonWon
Funniest Actress in a Motion Picture (Leading Role)Helen HuntWon
Artios Awards [19] Best Casting for Feature Film – Comedy Francine MaislerNominated
Awards Circuit Community AwardsBest Motion PictureNominated
Best DirectorJames L. BrooksNominated
Best Actor in a Leading RoleJack NicholsonWon
Best Actress in a Leading RoleHelen HuntWon
Best Actor in a Supporting RoleGreg KinnearNominated
Best Original ScreenplayMark Andrus and James L. BrooksNominated
Best Cast EnsembleNominated
Blockbuster Entertainment Awards Favorite Actor – VideoJack NicholsonNominated
Favorite Actress – VideoHelen HuntWon
BMI Film & TV Awards Film Music AwardHans ZimmerWon
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards [20] Best Film Nominated
Best Director James L. BrooksNominated
Best Actor Jack NicholsonNominated
Best Actress Helen HuntNominated
Best Supporting Actor Greg KinnearNominated
Best Original Screenplay Mark Andrus and James L. BrooksNominated
Chlotrudis Awards Best ActressHelen HuntNominated
Critics' Choice Awards [21] Best Picture Nominated
Best Actor Jack NicholsonWon
Czech Lion Awards [22] Best Foreign Language FilmJames L. BrooksNominated
Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards Best Film Nominated
Directors Guild of America Awards [23] Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures James L. BrooksNominated
Empire Awards [24] Best Actress Helen HuntNominated
Florida Film Critics Circle Awards [25] Best Actress Won
GLAAD Media Awards Outstanding Film – Wide Release Nominated
Golden Globe Awards [26] Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Won
Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Jack NicholsonWon
Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Helen HuntWon
Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture Greg KinnearNominated
Best Director – Motion Picture James L. BrooksNominated
Best Screenplay – Motion Picture Mark Andrus and James L. BrooksNominated
Golden Reel Awards Best Sound Editing – Music (Domestic and Foreign) Zigmund GronNominated
Golden Screen Awards Won
Japan Academy Film Prize Outstanding Foreign Language Film Nominated
Jupiter Awards Best International ActorJack NicholsonWon
London Film Critics Circle Awards Actor of the Year Won
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards [27] Best Actor Runner-up
Best Actress Helen HuntNominated
MTV Movie Awards Best Female Performance Nominated
National Board of Review Awards [28] Top Ten Films 2nd Place
Best Actor Jack NicholsonWon
Best Supporting Actor Greg KinnearWon
Online Film & Television Association Awards [29] Best PictureJames L. Brooks, Bridget Johnson and Kristi ZeaNominated
Best Comedy/Musical PictureWon
Best DirectorJames L. BrooksNominated
Best ActorJack NicholsonWon
Best Comedy/Musical ActorWon
Best ActressHelen HuntNominated
Best Comedy/Musical ActressWon
Best Supporting ActorGreg KinnearNominated
Best Screenplay – Written Directly for the ScreenMark Andrus and James L. BrooksNominated
Best Music – Original Comedy/Musical ScoreHans ZimmerWon
Best EnsembleNominated
Online Film Critics Society Awards [30] Best Actor Jack NicholsonWon
Producers Guild of America Awards Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures James L. Brooks, Bridget Johnson and Kristi ZeaNominated
San Diego Film Critics Society Awards Best Actor Jack NicholsonWon
Best Screenplay – Original Mark Andrus and James L. BrooksWon
Satellite Awards [31] Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Won
Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Jack NicholsonWon
Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Helen HuntWon
Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Cuba Gooding Jr. Nominated
Greg KinnearNominated
Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Shirley Knight Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards [32] Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role Jack NicholsonWon
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role Helen HuntWon
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role Greg KinnearNominated
SESC Film FestivalBest Foreign ActorJack NicholsonWon
Society of Texas Film Critics Awards Best Screenplay – OriginalMark Andrus and James L. BrooksNominated
Southeastern Film Critics Association Awards [33] Best Picture3rd Place
Best ActorJack NicholsonRunner-up
Best Supporting ActorGreg KinnearWon
Best Original ScreenplayMark Andrus and James L. BrooksWon
Toronto Film Critics Association Awards [34] Best Actor Jack NicholsonRunner-up
Turkish Film Critics Association Awards Best Foreign Film13th Place
Writers Guild of America Awards [35] Best Screenplay – Written Directly for the Screen Mark Andrus and James L. BrooksWon
YoungStar Awards Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Comedy Film Jesse James Won

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Preceded by Academy Award winner for Best Actor and Best Actress Succeeded by
No film has achieved this since