Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Blow Out the Candles: Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep
Born June 22, 1949

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.

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 16. 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.

Streep will turn 62 this year and has proven time and time again that both she and her work only get better with age.

What are your favourite Meryl Streep performances and/or films? Let us know in the comments section.


  1. Anonymous1:34 pm

    It's baffling to choose one great performance from an actress that has churned out so many of them--but I bet the ultimate and mind-blowing one will be Meryl as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady!Happy birthday to the sublime Meryl!FOREVER LOVE YOU!

  2. Wow, Meryl Streep. Who would've thought that she is now one of top grossing actresses of our time?

    My favorite performance of hers would have to be Death Becomes Her. She wasn't just hilarious but also gets to be sexy. I would love to see her in a macho action movie. Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Willis, and Streep!!! I think she could pull it off.

  3. Haha - Streep in Helen Mirren's role from RED then, eh? Yeah, sure, I could see that. Gotta be one of the only things she hasn't done.

    Nice tribute to her CS. But did you have to use that pic? I want to find every copy and send them to the recycle bin. So overused, that one. :)

  4. Michael S - I look forward to seeing Meryl as Margaret.

    thevoid99 - I agree that it would be great to see Meryl in an action flick. She's proven that she can do anything, so she'd probably kick as at kicking ass.

    Dylan - I didn't realize that pic was overused. She's laughing and looks happy in the pic so I thought it was a good fit for the birthday piece. Glad you liked the tribute, though.

  5. @thevoid – I also agree with the idea of Streep doing an action film. It would be awesome. Like Dylan mentioned, if Helen Mirren can pull it off in “Red” then Streep could easily do it as well. I know she has done suspense (e.g. The River Wild, etc.) but I would pay full price to see her channel her inner action star.

    @Dylan – JBT gets all the credit for this post. It was her idea to make it a recurring feature.

  6. @ JBT - I'm so sorry! I saw CS's mention of a new writer here a bit back, but I forgot about it and didn't check to see who wrote this.

    No worries on the photo - I've just seen it a bunch today with it being her birthday and all.

  7. @ Dylan - no worries. It's only my second week as a writer on the blog, so I'm still a newbie!


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