The Hours Will Still Make You Weep 15 Years Later

By Olivia Armstrong


Fifteen years ago, The Hours, based on the Pulitzer-winning Michael Cunningham book of the same name, took critics by storm. Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore and Meryl Streep lead the emotionally wrenching feminist drama about the effects Virginia Woolf’s novel Mrs Dalloway has on three women over three different time periods. Here’s what you need to know before delving into the emotional journey that is The Hours.

Year of Release: 2002

Runtime: A tick under 2... hours.

Why you should watch: Time isn’t always kind to Best Picture frontrunners that initially wow critics (ahem, The King’s Speech), but The Hours manages to hold up thanks to deftly crafted filmmaking and visceral performances. And despite its morose themes of suicide and repressed sexuality, it’s oddly rewatchable — especially if you’re in need of a solid cry.

Any helpful background knowledge? Kidman plays Virginia Woolf, who’s caught up in the writing of Mrs Dalloway. If you haven’t read the novel, it’s not a must before you watch, but it does assist in better understanding Woolf’s ideas on what it means to be a woman.

Who you’ll recognize: In addition to Kidman, Moore and Streep, the film stars Game of Thrones’ Stephen Dillane (“Stannis Baratheon”), Westworld’s Ed Harris (“The Man in Black”), plus Jeff Daniels, Toni Collette, John C. Reilly, Allison Janney and Margo Martindale as the most intimidating babysitter the 1950s have ever seen.

Tissues Scale? 5 out of 5 tissues.

Did Oscar like? Nicole Kidman won the Academy Award for Best Actress (the prosthetic nose she wore in the film, however, was robbed). It was nominated for eight additional Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director for Stephen Daldry.

Anything else? Take a lap after this one. Let your eyes de-puff. Call a relative you haven’t spoken to in awhile. Before all that, make sure you give it up for Nicole Kidman. Her performance is on another level.

Which HBO Character would watch? Madeline McKenzie (Reese Witherspoon) of Big Little Lies, likely accompanied by a glass of red wine and a doting Ed (Adam Scott) who’s ready to dab her eyes.