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…to the greatest living actress, Meryl Streep! Despite my skepticism of The Iron Lady, Meryl has proven time and time again that she can do no wrong. From a divorcee to a fashion editor to a nun, this powerhouse has taken on nearly every role imaginable. In honor of what will most definitely become her unprecedented 17th Academy Award nomination, and possible 3rd win, I look back on some of Meryl’s greatest performances. Here’s to you, Meryl!
The Deer Hunter (1978)
This is the film that showed the world what Meryl does best. While only having one film credit to her name, the young actress held her own alongside Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, and John Savage. Fortunately, many recognized her greatness in the film and awarded her with her first of many Academy Award nominations. Although she did not win, the nomination put her name on the map and became a springboard for the rising star to move up in the industry. Thank goodness for that!
The scene that introduced a legend.
Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)
Only a year after her powerful turn in The Deer Hunter, Meryl returned to the silver screen in yet another Best Picture winner. This unbelievable tearjerker gave Meryl a larger role to work with as she battled alongside Dustin Hoffman for the custody of their son. During the late 1960s, divorce rates rose rapidly which made this film all the more relatable to audiences. While the film as a whole is sentimental, the scenes with Meryl are often hard to watch as a result of their unflinching truthfulness. Besides the Best Picture win, the film took home four other Oscars, including Meryl’s first win for Best Supporting Actress. The Deer Hunter put Meryl on the map, but Kramer vs. Kramer remains one of the best performances from this chameleon.
No actor’s filmography is complete without working some of the top directors. After Annie Hall (1977), Woody Allen became one of the most fascinating names in the industry. Partner him with one of Hollywood’s rising stars, and you got a hit! Not only is his direction unique, Allen has an uncanny ability to write extraordinarily interesting female characters. Therefore, when Meryl signed on to the project, many people had their interest peaked. With her usual zeal, Meryl plays a lesbian, ex-wife of Allen and gets plenty of great writing to work with throughout. This classic Allen is a must-see for Meryl fans, and a milestone for any film buff.
Sophie’s Choice (1982)
How can one begin to discuss Meryl’s acting career without bringing up Sophie’s Choice? There has been major discussions over this film, and it all boils down to the fact that this is THE performance of Meryl’s numerous superb performances. Sophie’s Choice has basically become the benchmark for the Best Actress category, and with good reason. This remains Meryl’s only Best Actress win, but no matter how many wins other actors may have, this performance may never be touched. You will never forget this performance.
A scene that will never become any less haunting.
Highlights from 1983-2002:
(The films listed below are ones that I have not seen fully, but must still be mentioned as they are some of her finest.)
Out of Africa
Postcards from the Edge
The Bridges of Madison County
One True Thing
Music of the Heart
The Hours (2002)
An acting ensemble unlike any other features three women, from three different eras, affected by the same piece of literature. This tale with Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, and Nicole Kidman, will leave your heart aching for weeks. While some may be turned off by the dour premise, there is magic in the performances from these top-notch actresses. Streep shines as she is once again rewarded with an incredible script. Unfortunately, Meryl did not receive a nomination for this role, but instead got a nomination for her role in Adaptation. Either way, all must tip their caps to Meryl as she delivers again and begins to make audiences and critics alike question if it is possible for her to deliver a bad performance. I, for one, do not think it is at all possible.
The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
With simply a look, Meryl Streep’s Miranda Priestly makes one feel as if everything he has done in his life is futile. This satirical melodrama may have its flaws, yet the film is too much fun to notice. We all know Meryl as the Queen of Drama, but in this outrageous film we get to bask in her stunning comedic skills. The film would have little hope of being successful were it not for Meryl. The story is typical, with a predictable narrative arch, but it is not trying to be a brilliant film. The Devil Wears Prada is entertaining, plus we get an Oscar-worthy performance from Meryl, which is reason enough to see the film.
Little side note: The malicious look is both comedic and unsettling. I don’t know how she does it.
A film about a priest suspected of molestation is not exactly an easy ticket to sell, however, there is much to enjoy about this drama. Throughout the film, audiences are forced to look internally and question themselves as Meryl, portraying a dedicated, old fashioned nun, makes it her mission to discover the truth of recent events in her parish. Arguably, one of the greatest performances of her career, Meryl is Sister Aloysius Beauvier in every way. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, and the scene-stealing, Viola Davis strengthen the film even further with their remarkable performances. No one will ever know the full answer to the climax, but this is what makes it so intriguing. The ambiguous ending has the right touch of keep audiences satisfied while still keeping them wondering.
Thank you Meryl for always giving us something to look forward to at the movies. You are one of a kind, and a talent that should always be commemorated. I look forward to seeing you in the years to come!