October 2, 2018. That’s gonna go down as one of my best days ever. That’s the day I MET ELI ROTH!!!. (Anyone else remember the mini project I did about him on this blog some time back?).

Let’s back up. It was Beyond Fest at the Egyptian Theater (finally giving me an excuse to go). I’d gotten a ticket to see Roth preview his new series Eli Roth’s History of Horror, which would be followed by a 4K restoration of Maniac. In between, he’d be interviewing Maniac director William Lustig with Saw mastermind Leigh Whannell. Needless to say, I immediately bought a ticket the second I read the email blast that told me about this.

Eli came out before the episode to introduce it. The show breaks down different subgenres of horror, talking with various directors, actors, and other horror aficionados. The one he showed discussed slasher movies with people like Jamie Lee Curtis, Stephen King, and Rob Zombie. They analyzed Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Psycho, and yes, Maniac, among others. I feel like I learned so much just in that one hour, I could have stayed there all night to binge the series. I also could have followed up each episode with the highlighted films, and it made me really excited to know I’d be seeing one of those at least.

Next of course came the interview. Since I hadn’t seen Maniac yet, it was a bit tough to grasp a lot of what they were talkign about. However, it did tell me what to make sure to pay attention to when I did watch. Either way, completely fascinating. There’s nothing like watching horror lovers talk about the genre like giddy little kids.

There was a brief intermission before the film started, and that’s when I had my shot. I saw Eli standing around in the oppose aisle chatting with someone (he’d been sitting in the audience for the screening). How was there not a massive throng gathering there? I wasn’t gonna wait for someone else to make their move and risk missing my chance. I went over, and stood nearby as he finished his conversation. When he looked over at me, I told him I was big fan and I politely asked for a selfie, which he obliged (in true Dawn fashion, it was blurry, because the more I care about the person in the pic, the worse the pic comes out). I congratulated him on the show, and told him that I learned a lot from it and couldn’t wait to see more. I quickly ran back to my side of the theater since there were a few other people gathering now. I assume they were getting their selfies, but I don’t actually know because I ran to go upload the photo (heaven forbid something happen to my phone before the pic was immortalized). I got back to my seat just as the film was starting.

So, Maniac. How much street cred will I lose if I admit that I hadn’t even heard of it before receiving that fateful announcement video? Hell, I’d apparently even seen the Elijah Wood remake (which I totally forgot that I’d seen, and that its on my movie wall) and I didn’t even know about this. Good thing I fixed that.

Released in 1980, Maniac is one of the most classic and controversial slasher movies in horror history. An incredibly menacing Joe Spinell plays Frank, a serial killer who terrorizes NYC, scalping the women he murders, and creating mannequin trophies. I might be able to attribute some of this to how much my heart was pounding from meeting Mr Roth immediately beforehand, but I found this movie terrifying. There were two scenes in particular that did it.

There’s an early scene where he strangles a woman. The expressions he was making are going to be seared into my brain’s nightmares for a very long time. That is not something pleasant to see in high def on a giant screen, up close (I was sitting in the second row so I could be close to the in person shenanigans previously discussed).

The other scene, which I’ve come to hear is iconic, was the subway chase into the bathroom. The suspense in that sequence was so thick you could cut it with Frank’s knife. With every tight close up of our victim, I kenw he had to be just outside the frame, but director Lustig took his time showing him. It was as drawn out and frustrating (in a good way) as I’ve ever seen. But that scene was particularly terrifying because it’s real world horror. As a woman, I’m wary of where I go at night, and when I frequented public transporation, I was always spooked by an empty subway tunnel. I avoided them after late hours as much as I could. This movie reinforced that fear,. in a way that I don’t know I’ve experienced with another movie.

Truly watching that movie was an epic experience to top off what was an epic night that’s gonna stay with me

The Post

And we’ve made it to the last on the list, for now at least. I’m sure Meryl’s list of Oscar nominated performances will continue to grow thru infinity and beyond. I just talked about this movie not very long ago, so I don’t know that there’s much more to add. At my screening, Meryl actually got loud applause at a couple different points in the film. What other actor can boast that?

This role also illustrates a common theme I noticed going thru these movies. Meryl chooses some wonderfully feminist roles. In some cases that just means that it’s a fully developed three dimensional characters, but in cases like The Post, the character herself is a symbol of what women can achieve and what we’ve accomplished. I’m thrilled to have Meryl light that path

Florence Foster Jenkins

Another one I’ve talked about before, but this film is such a joy. It’s hard enough to sing well, but singing badly on purpose is even harder. And being completely delightful while doing it? An impossibility only Meryl can achieve. Seriously, this is a movie that’s guaranteed to make you smile.

Into the Woods

This film is the ultimate example of “Meryl’s in a movie! Let’s nominate her for an Oscar”. Yes she’s great, but it’s nowhere near on par with the rest of her nominated performances. True, that still puts her leagues above the rest of the world, but I don’t think this one quite warranted the recognition.

I’ve talked about the movie before. It’s alright. I think my excitement for it waned over time. I’ve seen many stage productions of Into the Woods and while the cast is great, I don’t know that it really does much better than the better stage versions I’ve seen.

And can I throw in a quick confession. Meryl’s not even my favorite in this movie. That would be Chris Pine, the only one here who truly wowed me. Everyone else, while fantastic (minus Johnny Depp), did exactly what I expected of them. Pine had never done anything like this and blew me away. But we’re blogging about Meryl right now, so I’ll stop. For now.

August: Osage County

This is one of those movies that as soon as the casting was announced, they prolly started booking all of Meryl’s awards appearances. After the powerhouse play stormed the theater world, it was going after Hollywood with one of the most impressive casts ever assembled. I’m not even gonna list them all here, just go IMDB it.

Honestly, I’d have rather seen Meryl win for this than The Iron Lady. I just love this movie so much more. Intense family drama that makes me grateful for my family. I prefer our faults to theirs. But you can cut the tension in any scene with a knife, it’s that palpable. Putting Meryl toe to toe with Julia Roberts is a long overdue pairing and one I hope to see again someday.

I’ve talked more about the film before so I’ll just leave this at saying that this is another one on Meryl’s nomination list that’s essential viewing.

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


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.


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.