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Battle of the movie sweethearts

The late ’80s and ’90s brought us many things that became staples in our lives: fanny packs, stirrup leggings, and neon everything, to name just a few. But other than questionable fashion choices, the era also offered up some pretty iconic movie sweethearts who charmed their way into our hearts, where, unlike those stirrup leggings, they remain today. These iconic actresses—and the characters they brought to life—are a powerful part of our memories.

With help from other members of the EW Community, let’s take a look at why Julia Roberts, Sandra Bullock, Meg Ryan, and Reese Witherspoon are all deserving of the title of “Movie Sweetheart.” Who would you crown the winner?

Julia Roberts

Touchstone Pictures, Silver Screen Partners IV
You don’t need Erin Brockovich’s skills for uncovering truth to know that Julia Roberts was the Rom-Com Queen of the 90s. She started the decade off with a bang as the “hooker with a heart of gold” in 1990’s Pretty Woman. For those who didn’t already know and love her from 1988’s Mystic Pizza or 1989’s Steel Magnolias, this was the film that made her a household name and taught us important lessons like which fork to use for each course.

As the ’90s went on, Julia continued to win us over, even when the characters she played were less-than-perfect. We rooted for her (to fail) in My Best Friend’s Wedding and (didn’t really) feel the pain of her life-ruining fame in Notting Hill. Her performances were always enchanting, though, and her iconic laugh solidified her place in our collective hearts.

In the years since, Julia has demonstrated tremendous versatility in a wide range of roles and genres, but for many of us, it is the decade book-ended by Richard Gere that holds our most fond memories of Julia. Thinking anyone else owned the ’90s the way Julia Roberts did would be a big mistake. Big. Huge. —Tamar Barbash

Sandra Bullock

Castle Rock Entertainment, Village Roadshow Pictures
Sandra Bullock was just named People Magazine’s most beautiful woman for good reason, and it has little to do with physical looks. Okay, that’s not entirely true. She’s gorgeous inside and out, and has solidified herself through the years as not only a true movie icon, but as genuine and relatable, which has only added to her popularity.

First coming onto the radar with Love Potion No. 9 (my radar, at least), she really raced right into fame with Speed. And much like that bus, she’s been nonstop ever since. Bullock can do it all: keep us on the edge of our seats (Speed, Gravity); make us feel all the feels (Crash); kick ass and take names (The Blind Side), make us laugh (The Heat, Miss Congeniality); and of course, be the adorable girl next door that everyone falls in love with (While You Were Sleeping, Hope Floats, The Proposal)—even that skunk Justin Matisse.

In 1998, Bullock—as Birdie Pruitt—said, “Once upon a time your mama knew what it meant to shine.” It certainly doesn’t look like Sandra Bullock’s shine will be dulling anytime soon. —Michelle Newman

Meg Ryan

Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally
Sleepless in Seattle. You’ve Got Mail. French Kiss. City of Angels. When Harry Met Sally. What do all of these classic romantic comedies have in common? A beautiful, funny, sincere, and absolutely hilarious leading lady: Meg Ryan.

Meg is by far my favorite sweetheart of the ’90s. Meg brings a sweetness—an innocence—to each of her roles. In Joe vs. the Volcano, Meg plays three different women, all with unique and complicated personalities. In Sleepless in Seattle, French Kiss, and Kate and Leopold, Meg takes incredible leaps (sometimes literally) to pursue the men that she loves. In Courage Under Fire, Meg shows her serious side, playing a soldier who sacrifices everything to rescue the men under her command. In City of Angels, Meg surrenders all doubt, and allows herself to be loved by an angel. Lastly, in You’ve Got Mail, Meg and Tom (Hanks) reunite for an endearing Jane Austen–esque retelling of The Shop Around the Corner.

On days when I’m sad, on days when I am heartbroken: I put on Meg’s films. Her charm, her gentleness, and her humor always lift my spirits, and that’s why I can definitively say Meg Ryan is my Queen of the ’90s Sweethearts! —Lauren Gallaway

Reese Witherspoon

Type A Films, Marc Platt Productions

Reese Witherspoon has certainly proven to the general public that she has dramatic acting chops. Check out her debut film, The Man in the Moon, or her Oscar-winning performance as June Carter Cash in Walk the Line if you don’t believe me.

But what makes Reese Witherspoon an icon among a relentless parade of well-deserving actresses in Hollywood is her unflinching aversion to generic toilet paper. That’s right, people. Elle Woods will forever be the coolest legal chick in cinema history, thanks to Witherspoon. In just over 90 minutes, she made us all believe that we could achieve a 175 on our LSATs and get into Harvard with a fashion degree.

If learning the phrase “ammonium thioglycolate” wasn’t enough, Witherspoon charmed her way into the hearts of anyone from a small town in Sweet Home Alabama. Not only did she have the horrendous job of romancing both Patrick Dempsey and Josh Lucas, but she gave us southern girls permission to dream about one day having both wings and roots.

And how many times have you uttered the phrase, “You have a baby. In a bar,” in the last decade? My guess is dozens. Thank you, Reese Witherspoon. —Lincee Ray

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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