Meryl Streep Movies list

The Essentials: Meryl Streep's 16 Best Performances

Meryl Streep EssentialsMon Aug 03 15:19:08 EDT 2015

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There are strata of acting talent—there's the good, the very good, and the great. And somewhere up above all that, there's Meryl Streep. Mary Louise Streep was born in Summit, New Jersey, broke into film in the late '70s with a couple of remarkable supporting turns, and has never looked back. In fact, she's leapfrogged everyone's wildest expectations, and over the course of the past four decades has amassed a total of 19 Academy Award nominations (the only other actor alive who comes remotely close is Jack Nicholson, with 12). Now we're not ones to measure artistic standards purely based on Oscar history, but in Streep's case, it's a good-as-any indication of her talents (to put it another way, if the Oscars were really about who deserves recognition most based on performance alone, she'd have about 14 by now).

Deer Hunter StreepFamously deemed "not beautiful enough" by the apparently blind Dino De Laurentiis, Streep has a graceful aura, a kind of mystery that's the kernel of all her performances. This indescribable power, as well as her ridiculous range and uncanny knack for accents, are universally acknowledged, yet she somehow still finds ways to defy expectations. She's laudably immune to the celebrity gossip complex, choosing instead to live a quiet life outside the clutches of Hollywood, picking her roles with care and approaching small parts with magnanimity and generosity, so that she's as sought-after as an ensemble collaborator as she is a Grande Dame. She's also a staunch supporter of women's rights in the film world, is prone to donating her salaries to various charities, and actively supports other actresses for awards even when she's in contention. She hasn't yet cured cancer, but maybe if someone wrote that role...

This Friday will see her in the lead role in Jonathan Demme's "Ricki And The Flash" (written by Diablo Cody), opposite her daughter Mamie Gummer and reunited with her "Sophie's Choice" co-star Kevin Kline, which gives us the excuse to get down to the long overdue business of dedicating an Essentials piece to Meryl Streep—one of the greatest actors to ever step in front of a camera.

Kramer vs Kramer"The Deer Hunter" (1978)
It all started at a wedding procession. That's when the film world truly began to take notice of the young, barely experienced yet instantly captivating Streep. Robert De Niro noticed her in a stage production of Chekov's "The Cherry Orchard" and soon convinced director Michael Cimino to cast her as Linda in "The Deer Hunter, " the woman who unassumingly stands between two best friends/ war buddies Michael (De Niro) and Nick (Christopher Walken). The opening wedding ceremony, in which Nick asks Linda to marry him, coupled with that emotional bulldozer of a scene when Michael comes back after the war, showcase Streep's natural, breathtaking beauty (both exterior and interior): there's a rare purity to Linda that simply glows. And so this tiny role in one of the most psychologically intense Vietnam movies ever, featuring sensational lead performances by Walken and De Niro, turned out to be one hell of an entrance for Streep.

"Kramer Vs. Kramer" (1979)
After her breakout in "The Deer Hunter, " Streep turned a few more heads in Woody Allen's "Manhattan, " before inducing whiplash in just about anyone who saw "Kramer Vs. Kramer." Considering it was a Best Picture winner that also bagged her first Oscar (alongside her brilliant co-star Dustin Hoffman), everyone saw "Kramer vs Kramer." Even though her total screen minutes barely reach double digits, and even though she's playing ostensibly the less sympathetic character (a mother who abandons her child—the horror!), Streep's Joanna somehow breaks your heart while at the same time representing a clarion call for the women's issues Streep would champion offscreen as a well as on: "All my life, I felt like somebody's daughter, somebody's mother, somebody's wife, " she says. In fact, Streep revised the story with writer-director Robert Benton to make Joanna's point of view more balanced, and the result is a film that inspired years of debate over custody rights and the mother vs. father dichotomy. One thing that was not so debatable: it established Streep's reputation for tugging at the heart strings in a film's final moments with the kind of emotional control that could make boot camp drill instructors weep like babies.

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