When it comes to great acting, Meryl Streep is one of the most dependable actors around. While Robert De Niro and Al Pacino have arguably damaged their legendary reputations with shoddy movie choices, Streep has remained consistently excellent. And she can do it all: drama, of course, comedy and with last year's "Mamma Mia!," even musicals.
I wanted to hate "Mamma Mia!" I'm not a fan of musicals, The thought of Pierce Brosnan singing frightened me, but once again, it was Streep who drew me in and got me to enjoy this guilty pleasure flick. And now she returns as Julia Child in "Julie & Julia."
When it comes to Streep, I definitely have my favorite films, starting with the tragic romance, "The French Lieutenant's Woman" (view trailer), in which she plays an actress playing a role in a historical romance and we see both stories play out. It's hard not to be swept away by this film. For all those people who think "Somewhere in Time" is the most romantic movie ever, take another look at "French Lieutenant's Woman."
"Sophie's Choice" is arguably Streep's best work. In it she plays a woman who is forced to choose between her children during the Holocaust, and must deal with the torturous aftereffects while in a relationship with a mentally unstable man, played by Kevin Kline. What's amazing about her work is the range she shows: She's sexy, she's tormented, she enjoys life, she's haunted by the past. The complications of her existence show all over her face. In the scene where she tells how she got sent to a concentration camp, her delivery is believably detached, yet you know how much just telling the story kills her.
I have a special place in my heart for "Postcards From the Edge." My favorite scene is after Streep gets out of rehab and her mom, played by Shirley MacLaine, decides to throw her a welcome home party and prods her to sing Ray Charles' "You Don't Know Me." The mixture of humiliation, pride and pleasure that she shows while singing and then listening to her mom sing just gets to me. It feels so real – with the messiness of an actual mother-daughter relationship.
"The Deer Hunter" (view trailer) showcased Streep in an early role as the woman who stays behind as her fiancé (Christopher Walken) and his friends head off to Vietnam. Streep was actually engaged to co-star John Cazale at the time. Cazale was fighting cancer and died not long after filming was completed. In this interview, director Michael Cimino (looking very much like Robert Evans) talks about the making of the film and how Cazale and Streep were cast.
My final favorite is one of her more recent films: screenwriter Charlie Kaufman's "Adaptation" (view a scene). She fits right into Kaufman's surreal world. One of the best things about Streep is that even though she's a megastar, she makes you forget it when you watch her on film. She lets the story take center stage.
Here's hoping there are many more great films in Streep's future. She recently turned 60 and the age barrier that seems to stop other actress's careers cold seemingly does not apply to her. Thank goodness.
What are your favorite Meryl Streep films?