Some days ago (actually quite a few days ago), June 22nd, was Meryl Streep’s birthday- who happens to be HER ROYAL HIGHNESS MAJESTIC QUEEN OF EVERYTHING Meryl Streep or simply the love of my life, Meryl Streep. Anyway, I was planning to publish this entry that same day but due to schedule conflicts I haven’t been able to post it until now, so here is it, after quite a long long long time without publishing anything (basically a month, I promise it won’t happen again). Actually, after thinking about it (and about the fact I haven’t published anything in sooooo long), this entry is sort of my own birthday present (cause it really was my birthday on July 4th) because I guess there’s nothing I’d rather talk about than Meryl.
In case some of you didn’t know, because I guess some of you don’t know me at all, Meryl Streep is my idol and probably the reason I love movies so much. So I guess today’s entry (even if I’m posting this quite late) is very special for me. Anyway, what can be said about Meryl that hasn’t been said yet? She’s not only a great actress but the GREATEST LIVING ACTRESS (even if she said there was no such thing as best actress): she holds the record for most Golden Globes nominations and wins (29 noms 8 wins) and most Academy Awards nominations (19), having won 3 times (only Katharine Hepburn has more Oscars, 4).
But now let’s get to the point. In today’s entry I’m going to share my favourite Meryl performances, well, it’s actually very difficult to choose ten because as I was making the list I was already regretting not talking about some amazing movies such as The French Lieutenant’s Woman.
- Mamma Mia!
You can like the movie or not, I mean when it comes to musicals not everyone is a fan. But despite what you may think of the movie and of the fact an actress such as Meryl starred in it, we have to admit she was just brilliant: not only she can act, she’s also a great singer and dancer. This was the film that made me fall in love with her and it was for many years my favourite movie ever- I’m not ashamed of admitting it. When you think about it, the fact Meryl was almost 60 when the film was made and that same year (2008) she played a completely different character in Doubt, it’s very impressing. I understand Mamma Mia may not be the best film in the world, but it really does make you feel better afterwards.
- The Hours
2002 was a great year for Meryl (as always, duh): she played the complicated character of Clarisse in the acclaimed masterpiece The Hours and was nominated for an Academy Award (and won a Golden Globe) for her portrayal of the real-life writer Susan Orlean in Adaptation. In both films, the rest of the cast is outstanding, Nicole Kidman won the Oscar for best actress for the Hours and Chris Cooper won best supporting actor for Adaptation.
As I said before, it was quite shocking to see such different performances in 2008: I guess Donna and Sister Aloysus have nothing in common, except for the fact they’re both humans (well, maybe not the latter, who knows…). Anyway, I still believe Meryl should have won an Oscar for this performance; her portrayal of this complicated figure, both evil and fragile is magnificent. And let’s not forget about the cast: Four leading (and supporting) actors, four Oscar nominations (Amy Adams, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Viola Davis and Meryl).
- Kramer vs Kramer
How could we forget the performance that gave Meryl her first Oscar! I don’t know who said that- Meryl maybe- but it’s relatively easier to portray an “over-the-top” character (with funny accents, and strange looks) whereas playing a “normal” character is somehow very difficult, I guess because we’re all familiar with “normal” people and we can see when someone’s exaggerating. Anyway, I really love this performance and I really love the movie and I hope I’ll be able to read the book someday….by the way, did you know Meryl worked alongside Robert Benton to “improve” Joanna (that’s her character, of course): apparently in the book she’s quite a b*tch (if I may say so) and it just didn’t seem realistic…
- The Devil Wears Prada
I know some of you may not agree, I understand, but I just love Miranda Priestly and I think Meryl is just superb. The beauty of the character comes from the fact even though Miranda may seem a cold-hearted person with no emotions, she is a vulnerable woman who needs to be loved. Anyway, I think the fact I know many many many young girls who’ve wanted to write for Vogue and live in New York after watching the film (and I’m one of them) just shows how brilliant the movie is.
- The Bridges of Madison County
Well, what can I say about this film when it has become a legend and, once again, Meryl is fantastic playing a character that, I believe, has nothing in common with her? Francesca Johnson has somehow become the stereotype of the “Meryl Streep type of character”: a strong personality, a foreign accent in a dramatic film that will make you sob in front of the tv because she really could have opened the door (YES FRANCESCA YOU COULD HAVE JUST LEFT WITH ROBERT)…so what! She’s brilliant! Did you know Sofia Loren wanted to play Francesca? In my opinion this just shows what a great job Meryl did because she’s so convincing and so different from Loren (who’s also a great actress, alright).
- The Iron Lady
This film will always be extremely important for me, so I’ll always love Meryl’s performance in it (and the fact she won an Oscar just proves that it’s not a completely biased opinion). I wrote an entry some months ago about how unfair it is too say an actor won an Oscar just because they’re playing a real-life character (at the time Eddie Redmayne had won for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything and people were complaining Michael Keaton should have won for Birdman). This is what also happened when Meryl won for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher (some people thought Viola Davis deserved it for The Help): the late Prime Minister was a notorious public figure loved and hated (mostly hated) all over the world and the fact Meryl was so convincing playing her was obvious for everyone who knew Margaret Thatcher. But my point is in this film Meryl is not only playing the role of the British Prime Minister, she is mostly playing the role of an old lady suffering from Alzheimer’s disease who happens to be Margaret Thatcher. In my opinion this is the most important part of the character: when I watched the film for the first time I was like “I can wait for Meryl to appear on screen” until I realized it was her! So I guess I’ve made my point, now let’s go to number 3!
Late 70s and early 80s Meryl is my favourite Meryl and I love this film, which makes me love this character (I told you I wouldn’t be objective so don’t complain). Can you even believe it’s based on a true story? Crazy, isn’t it? Anyway, Mike Nichols was one of my favourite directors ever and he just knows how to direct Meryl and make the audience feel what she is feeling: the fear, the stress, the sadness… In case you haven’t watched the movie I totally recommend it!
- Out of Africa
Back when I became obsessed with Meryl I was 100% confident she had won an Oscar for the marvelous portrayal of the real life writer Isaac Dinesen in this iconic film…because how could we forget the amazing African landscape, John Barry’s soundtrack (which is still used every time there’s a memorial or a life achievement award) or Robert Redford! It’s obviously again the “Meryl Streep stereotypical character” but I don’t care. Did you know Hollywood had wanted to make a film about Isaac Dinesen for decades (I even think Greta Garbo was suggested for the main role) and that finally the role was offered to Audrey Hepburn? Another funny story: Meryl really wanted to play the lead in this film about Sidney Pollack, the director, didn’t want to cast her because he didn’t think she was sexy enough! So for the audition Meryl stuffed her bra with toilet paper (or something) and was cast… Well, let’s just leave it here and move on the number one!
- Sophie’s Choice
If you ask anyone (who knows a little bit about movies) what they’re favourite Meryl character is they’re going to say Sophie from Sophie’s Choice. I mean every time there’s a ranking for best Oscar-winning performances Meryl is in it…and let’s face it, she is marvelous! Her accent is flawless, as usual but the fact she learned to speak German in a Polish accent is admirable, I mean this is the mark of a true professional. Meryl certainly goes the extra mile and is fantastic, she is able to convey all the emotions her character is feeling and makes her own identity disappear: Meryl becomes Sophie, which is what real acting is about.
Thank you Meryl for all these great performances!