The Watchers

The Watchers

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Mini-Countdown: Five Favourite Meryl Streep Performances

Last week, Meryl Streep was awarded the Honorary Golden Bear Award at the Berlin Film Festival. She is the most nominated actress in the history of the Academy Awards with seventeen nominations- fourteen for Best Actress and three for Best Supporting Actress- and two wins (Best Supporting Actress for Kramer Vs Kramer and Best Actress for Sophie's Choice). She seems almost certain to win her third Oscar, after twenty-nine years, for The Iron Lady. In honour of this genuinely classy lady, here are my five favourite Meryl Streep performances (in chronological order).

1. Madeline Ashton in Death Becomes Her (1992)

Streep is often considered to be a 'serious' actress but shows impeccable comic timing in this deliciously over-the-top black comedy from Robert Zemeckis. Appearing as a narcissitic, manipulative diva yearning to stay young and beautiful forever, Streep's performance positively crackles and she handles a good line of bitchy banter with co-star Goldie Hawn.

2. Clarissa Vaughan in The Hours (2002)

As the modern-day embodiment of Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway, Streep gives a lovely performance in this Stephen Daldry drama. Whilst co-stars Nicole Kidman and Julianne Moore were Oscar-nominated for their roles, Streep's performance was slighly overlooked in favour of her role in Adaptation. It's a real shame because this is a nicely judged performance in a truly special film.

3. Senator Eleanor Shaw in The Manchurian Candidate (2004)

It's no mean feat to remake a film and have it turn out as good as the original. Luckily, Jonathan Demme's adaptation of John Frankenheimer's classic 1962 political thriller is as good and that's in no small part to Streep's portrayal as the domineering and utterly ruthless mother of Sergeant Shaw. It's a steely, chilling performance with an unsettling layer of ambiguity with the mother-son relationship.

4. Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

Glacial, withering, a razor-sharp put-down never far from the pursed lips, Miranda Priestly is an absolute gift of a part for any actress and Streep plays it to the hilt. She  barely raises her voice to deliver devastating sideswipes to hapless underlings in a silky-smooth tone. Rumours persist that Miranda is based on New York fashion doyenne Anna Wintour; Streep really makes the part her own.

5. Julia Child in Julie & Julia (2009)

Streep's turn as chef Julia Child is a pure joy. It's a beguiling and consummate performance, going beyond mere minickry (although she's nailed Child's strident tones). Absolutely tenacious and strong-willed, the 'Julia' scenes of the film- as she attempts to become a cordon bleu chef amongst the men of 1950s Paris- provide a warm and wonderful heart for the movie 

So, there are mine. What about yours? Did Streep's performance in Mamma Mia! raise the roof, or do you prefer her as a suspicious nun in Doubt? Perhaps her performances as Lindy Chamberlin or Karen Silkwood do it for you? Or maybe her Oscar-winning performances in Sophie's Choice or Kramer Vs Kramer? Let me know in the comments box below.


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