The Iron Lady

And after all these films, Meryl _Finally_ gets another win. Think about it. In my 33 years on this earth, this is the only time she’s taken one home (thus far). That’s a huge gap between victories. But I feel like the sense in the Academy was that the bar was so high for her, she had to do something truly special to win.

Honestly, I don’t care for this movie much. You know how this Oscar season I was annoyed with Darkest Hour because it’s little more than a vehicle for Gary Oldman to win an Oscar? That’s basically my feeling towards The Iron Lady.

At least Thatcher is a character that hasn’t been fully explored on screen before (unlike Churchill), and I applaud Meryl for taking on yet another revolutionary feminist role, but the movie does little for me. I barely paid attention on the rewtach

Doubt

This movie is incredible. I’ve seen it a couple times before, and was still completely blown away. I know this focus of this post series is to talk about Meryl Streep, but I’ve got more thoughts than that, that haven’t been covered here before.

That screenplay. THAT SCREENPLAY. It’s amazing. I haven’t seen the stage play (but gosh dang do I really want to), but it translated really well. Despite the minimal settings, it doesn’t feel claustrophobic, because the dialog is so rich that it fills the screen. Again, seen it a few times, and I still have no idea what happened. Not in the sense that I don’t know what’s going on, but in the sense that I don’t know what the truth is.

Lemme back up in case you’re unfamiliar with this story. It’s set in a Catholic school that’s run by the strictest nun that ever was (Streep’s Sister Aloysius). When a priest (a never been better Philip Seymour Hoffman) takes an interest in a young African American boy, Sister Aloysius begins to believe that there might be some scandalous behavior at play. But here’s the brilliance of how it’s written. Every scene, you think you know what the real story is. And then the next scene comes in and you completely change your mind. Then comes another scene. Ooooh that’s why it’s called doubt!

The acting is phenomenal. This was mine and much of the world’s first intro to Viola Davis as the boy’s mother, scoring her first Oscar nod with minimal screentime. But this is really about Hoffman and Streep going toe to toe. Two of the greatest actors of my lifetime digging into one of the richest scripts either has ever taken on. It’s such a masterclass in acting, and these performances are utterly compelling. Oh Amy Adams is in this too, and fantastic of course, but she’s kinda dwarfed by the other greats.

I should also say, this movie is the one that made Meryl my favorite actress. Well, this in combination with Mamma Mia. The fact that both those movies came out in the same year, on completely opposite ends of the spectrum genre wise, and she freaking killed both of them. That’s epic.

This movie should be mandatory viewing for any hardcore film buffs

Julie & Julia

Soooo fun fact, this is the movie that inspired me to start ExpeltiveDleted way back in the day. Up til that point, I’d write an occasional movie review in my LiveJournal (remember when that was a thing?), but seeing Julie go on her blogging journey made me think that I should do the same. Except my first project was AFI’s 100 Years 100 Movies. I may not have gone on to the recognition that Julie did, but it’s been a fun (nearly) nine years.

This movie is a lot cheesier than I remember. Despite having been inspired by Julie 9 years ago, I just found her annoying now. But that’s okay because we’re talking about Meryl who was Julia. As in Julia Child.

Oh yeah, so to catch you up, modern day Julie has decided to blog her way thru Julia Child’s classic cookbook. We get parallel stories of Julie’s journey to write thru the cookbook and Julia’s journey to write the cookbook.

The Julia storyline is pure joy, mostly because of Meryl’s performance and her chemistry with onscreen husband Stanley Tucci (building off their screen chemistry in The Devil Wears Prada). It’s only one of many iconic real life figures that Meryl will get awards recognition for, but it’s easily the most fun of the bunch

The Devil Wears Prada

Another one I’ve talked about before, so for this go round we’ll just focus on Meryl.

It’s interesting that she was up for a lead nomination for this film. Yes, she’s the title character, but the story is really about Anne Hathaway’s Andie. But of course, she’s Meryl, so naturally she’s gonna be up for the top spot.

This is one of her most iconic characters. So many of her performances are known for their emotional heft, but this one is more defined by her mannerisms and personality. And it’s brilliant, of course. Yet another case though where any other actress would not have gotten the same recognition, even for a comparable performance.

That’s all.

Adaptation

This one seems an anomaly to be included. It’s all about Nicholas Cage. I mean hell, he plays too characters. Yet somehow it’s Chris Cooper who pulled off a win that year (in supporting) to represent the film. Meryl had her supporting nod and Cage his lead nod.

Confession, I wasn’t paying the most attention. I had just started on this 2000 piece jigsaw puzzle. Now Music of the Heart was appropriate background entertainment for that, but Adaptation required more rapt focus. It took a while to figure it out.

Actually, it’s not about Nicholas Cage. It’s about Charlie Kauffman, the screenwriter. Kauffman was struggling to a adapt a novel into a screenplay, and instead came up with this screenplay about that struggle. Cage plays Kauffman and a fictional twin brother.

It doesn’t make a lot of sense watching it, but reflecting on it, it does all come together in a genius way. I don’t even know where to describe it, you have to experience it. Thankfully, we’re just focusing on Meryl for this blog so I don’t need to dig in too deep.

I think it’s another nominated-because-she’s-Meryl role. That and there’s a fun twist around her character that would have made her more memorable. I don’t know that performance wise there was anything other than the usual exciting skill she brings.

Music of the Heart

How did I completely forget about N Sync’s song from this movie?! As it played during the end credits, images of the music video and the boys in a school hallway with Gloria Estefan came flooding back.

But we’re not talking about N Sync, we’re talking about Meryl. Had this film come out a few years earlier, I’d have been all over it. I was raised on inspirational family films of the 90s. Except I was a freshman or soph in high school when this was released, so I was too cool for that (despite the N Sync connection).

This movie is def one of those where Meryl got nominated bc she’s Meryl. No other actress would have gotten this kinda attention. But of course she knocked it outta the park.

I actually rather enjoyed this movie. It wasn’t quite as sugary as I expected. Her character had some bite and some arc to her. We saw her establish her program and then fight to save it years later. That finale was so moving, watching the big performance play out. Teachers looking for a film to watch in class on your hangover days, consider this!

One True Thing

Wow this movie is so 90s. Normally, if I would say a statement like that it’d be drenched in nostalgia, but I’m not sure how much the 90s vibe is a good thing here. It’s making it difficult to take this seriously as an Oscar contender or a Meryl Streep film. It was the year where Shakespeare in Love beat out Saving Private Ryan and Roberto Benigni stole it from Edward Norton, so I guess the Academy was on crack that year.

Srsly tho, the costumes, the score, the cinematography, the title, the Renee Zellwegger. So so 90s.

Renee is a young professional who moves back home when Mama Meryl is diagnosed with cancer. I’m struggling to watch this, and I think it’s because of how demanding and calloused the dad (William Hurt) was about insisting that she do this. Something my parents were always so so good about is allowing me to live my life, and not allowing any of their issues to get in the way. Daddy never let on how sick he was at the end so that I wouldn’t worry. Mom has gotten as many of her affairs in order so she won’t be a burden later, and under no circumstances would want me to have to take sole care of her. This is something I appreciate more than I could possibly articulate, and seeing parents in this film that are doing the exact opposite breaks my heart.

I really don’t get this as a nominee. First off, Meryl is up for lead, but this is really Renee’s film. Second, this is not an Oscar caliber film. But Meryl is playing a sickly mother, which is often an awards bait-y type of role. We hadn’t seen her do that yet, and of course, the Academy recognizes her every time she does something different.

Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa, this movie is set in the 80s? Did anyone tell the production design? Or the costumer? Did I mention I’m live blogging this entry (with a delayed posting).

Okay Meryl just had an epic monologue (even if the dialog is cliche) and the nomination is making more sense. Still surprises me though that they took this movie that seriously.

The Bridges of Madison County

I believe seeing the promos for this movie back in the day were the first time I ever heard the name “Meryl Streep”. At the time, I simply thought this film looked like an old people’s romantic film, and nothing I’d be at all interested in. Watching it now, I certainly don’t think I could have appreciated it had I seen it any sooner.

No, this is not the sort of movie I go for, but I’m glad for having finally watched. It truly is beautiful, if you let yourself get lost in it. Okay, the framing with the adult children is rather cheesy, but the main story is stunning.

Whodda thunk that Clint Eastwood actually plays romantic lead rather well too, yeah? The chemistry between the two of them is palpable, and I see why this has become a classic romantic film. It’s certainly miles above any romcom from the same era, that’s for damn sure.

Postcards from the Edge

Now, we move into the 90’s which were far less generous with the awards than her other career decades. This is the first of only three (gasp!)

I actually really like this movie. It’s based off Carrie Fisher’s book which is a fictionalization of her life, focusing in on her struggles with addiction and relationship with her mother. I always like movies about Hollywood, and here it’s sort of just the background of the real story.

We’ve got sassy Meryl here, not a look we see often from here, and I love it. I want to see more of that side. She’s got a snappy comeback for everything, to deflect every possible situation or chance at emotion. It’s brilliantly written and expertly performed.

A Cry in the Dark

I feel bad now that Dingoes At My Baby is my favorite fictitious band. I had no idea there was a basis of truth to that phrase.

Meryl heads down under and puts on an Aussie accent to play the real life Lindy Chamberlain. While on a camping trip with her family, her infant is carried away by a dingo and killed. Except, not everyone is buying that story, and Lindy finds herself on trial for murder.

What I found interesting about the film is that it’s done from a perspective that Lindy truly is innocent. That’s never called into question. IRL, there’s still a lot of controversy over that, and many who still believe that she’s guilty. I think it would have made an more intriguing and engaging story with some ambiguity.

Of course, Meryl is fantastic. Lots of emotion and depth, with an accent thrown on top. Storywise, this is one that’s more up my alley than we’ve seen on this journey and I’m thankful I have Meryl to take me there.