Weep Show

Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff

Modern Melodramas

Ah, some things never go away. In One True Thing, an ashen Meryl Streep gets walloped with both, as the cancer-stricken Martha Stewart-wannabe whose professor husband can't cope. Renée Zellweger as her ambitious daughter faces a surprisingly retro weepy plot: she must choose between her career and her family.

Thandie Newton, Kimberly Elise, and Oprah Winfrey in Beloved
Oprah Winfrey's adaptation of Toni Morrison's Beloved
Basinger says the return of the weepy is proof that women are being taken seriously as an audience. "I think it's interesting these films are surfacing," she said. "Like The First Wives Club and The English Patient, films about love and marital relationships have been successful at the box office. As a result, studios are realizing there is a consumer market beyond teenage boys."

In addition, with the focus on female relationships, Hollywood's top actresses —Meryl Streep in One True Thing and Dancing at Lughnasa, Susan Sarandon in Stepmom, and Sharon Stone in The Mighty— are enjoying meaty parts. Will the flow of weepies increase the Oscar intrigue this year?

"Let's hope so," said Basinger. "Every year it's an embarrassing situation. They can barely scrape up five women for Best Actress nominees. Strong roles for women at least ensure some real competition."

And that's nothing to cry about.

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