Elena Sheppard
November 20, 2014 9:44 am

It’s unbearably sad news when someone we love dies — even if we’ve never met that someone we love in real life. Incredible director of both theater and movies, husband to Diane Sawyer, EGOT winner, producer, father, Mike Nichols died, at age 83, yesterday.

Among the outstanding work he brought to this world were amazing movies we love like Closer and Remains of the Day; he directed play productions that go down in theater history, like Barefoot in the Park andThe Odd Couple; and he spotlighted unknowns that became big names — as he did when he brought a talented young woman to Broadway after seeing her in her one woman show: Whoopi Goldberg. He also directed, one of our personal favorite’s, Gilda Radner’s documentary Gilda Live as well as two episodes of the heartbreaking and so, so beautiful Angels in America.

While impossible to honor all of his work in one breath, we’ve gathered a list of just some of the truly great Mike Nichols movies to watch in order to honor his legacy. If you love his work, get watching, if you’re just hearing of him now, get watching. Let’s remember a true legend through some of the gorgeous, game-changing films he created in his life.

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966)

It was his first time directing a movie, and he got nominated for an Oscar. Not. Too. Shabby. The movie, based on a play by Edward Albee, starred Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton who were Earth-shatteringly big stars at the time. It’s a tight story about a couple falling apart and lashing out at one another, and it’s one of those movies that lives on in legend status.

The Graduate (1967)

You’ve likely already seen it, and if you haven’t there’s no better time than now. The movie was Nichols’ second film and famously told the story of a young Dustin Hoffman being seduced by a friend of his parents (Anne Bancroft). Famous lines include, “Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me. Aren’t you?” The film also perfectly proves that the post college malaise has been going on since, at the very least, 1967.

Silkwood (1983)

Directed by Nichols, written by Norah Ephron and Alice Arlen, and starring Meryl Streep and Cher: that’s a power lineup. It’s a pretty disturbing, but power-heavy, movie about a woman at a plutonium processing plant who is exposed to dangerous materials, tortured, and maybe even murdered all to keep her from spreading secrets about safety violations.

 

Working Girl (1988)

Working Girl is the very best kind of smart ‘80s rom-com, and stars Melanie Griffith as a secretary (huge hair, leg warmers, and white sneaks abound) who after being duped by her Wall Street boss (Sigourney Weaver) does what she can and she needs to in order to jumpstart her own career. Props for two working ladies in the lead, and the movie also stars Harrison Ford, Alec Baldwin, and Joan Cusack.

 

The Birdcage (1996)

A comedy classic starring the late-great Robin Williams and Nathan Lane, as a gay couple who have to fake straight in order to meet the conservative and high-profile political parents of their son’s fiancé. It’s easy to get totally awe-lost in the amazing performances, but take a step back and realize that the same director who brought you powerful SERIOUS movies (like Silkwood) is also responsible for making you crazy-laugh with The Birdcage. That’s talent, that’s range, that’s a body of work SO worth celebrating. And a Hollywood legend we’re really going to miss.

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