The Nominee: Meryl Streep
Considered by many to be the greatest actress of this generation, Meryl Streep has made over 50 films. Her filmography is incredibly diverse including roles as a real-life union activist, a drug addict, a demanding magazine editor, a nun, and Julia Child, just to name a few.
Streep has achieved greater commercial and critical success with her dramatic films, but her highest grossing film to date came in 2008 when she starred as a single mother uncertain about her daughter’s paternity in the musical-comedy Mamma Mia. This was not the first time Streep strutted her musical chops on screen. In 1990’s Postcards from the Edge, Streep played a recovering drug addict trying to revive her career after rehab, and performed all vocals in the film herself. She dipped back into the musical well last year with her turn in Into the Woods.
One of Streep’s most anomalous roles came in 1989 when she starred opposite Roseanne Barr in She-Devil, which marked her first comedic role. Perhaps the only reason to see the film, Streep infused this sub par flick with great comedic timing, showcasing a surprising departure from her usual dramatic fare.
Strange, too, was Streep’s role in Death Becomes Her, a dark comedy co-starring Goldie Hawn and Bruce Willis, about two rival women who drink a magic potion and obtain eternal youth. Here, Streep proved just how well she could play wicked.
And no one can don an accent quite like Meryl Streep. Several of her film roles have called for accented characters, the most notable being her Oscar-winning turn as Polish holocaust survivor, Sophie, in Sophie’s Choice. Streep’s Polish accent is authentic and believable and her deeply emotional portrayal of a mother forced to choose between saving her daughter and saving her son is true acting greatness.
In the screen adaptation of The Bridges of Madison County, Streep dons an Italian accent to play a lonely housewife in Iowa who has an affair with a photographic journalist passing through town.
For me, among Streep’s most entertaining films are The River Wild and The Devil Wears Prada. Each film is very different and so too are the characters Streep portrays. In the thriller The River Wild, Streep plays a rafting expert vacationing with her estranged husband and son who are forced at gunpoint to raft two armed robbers on the lam down the river.
In The Devil Wears Prada, Streep is perfectly cast as the ruthless, sharp-tongued Miranda Priestly. Streep is at once reviled for the nasty and callous way she treats her employees, and then garners sympathy when she reveals that her husband is divorcing her and is mournful about her two daughters losing yet another father figure.
Throughout her career, Streep has been richly awarded for her colourful and diverse career, earning the most Academy Award nominations than any other actor with 19. In every film, she becomes the character, fully immersing herself in every role to completely embody the person she is portraying. She is impossible to typecast because she has played so many types. Nowhere is that more evident than in The Iron Lady, where Streep portrayed Margaret Thatcher, the longest serving Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; a role for which she won a third Oscar.