With the Academy Awards almost upon us, I felt like it would be appropriate to put the spotlight on Mrs. Oscar herself, the most decorated actress of all time, Meryl Streep. Hollywood has a running joke about how many nominations Meryl has, a number that is at 18 now I believe. She’s won three of them, two for Best Actress and one for Best Supporting Actress. You could add together the careers of five or six of the world’s best actresses and not come up with those numbers.
With that being said, of course this list is not big enough for someone like Meryl. So bear in mind that this is simply my opinion. I think even her most recent Oscar win, for Iron Lady, is actually left off this list. That’s how good her career is. So here comes our Movie Melt list of the top 10 Meryl Streep movies ever made.
10. The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
I’ve attempted to get some films in from multiple decades, and perhaps that played a part, but sneaking in at number 10 is what I think is actually an underrated little film starring Anne Hathaway as a second assistant to the woman in charge at a high end fashion magazine. The demanding Diva boss in played wonderfully by Streep, who manages to have presence and provide humor in equal measure. An underrated Meryl Streep movie.
9. Adaptation (2002)
Spike Jonze has been lauded for his recent Oscar nominee, ‘Her’ but he has made plenty of good films in his day. ‘Adaptation’ is certainly one of them, and it had a quirky cast where Streep played an author of a book which is being turned into a screenplay by Nicolas Cage’s character. Streep is fantastic as always, and brings a wonderful power to a film and added to the deeply personal story.
8. Doubt (2008)
One of my favorite films, I mentioned ‘Doubt’ recently in my tribute to Philip Seymour Hoffman. As amazing as he was, he was of course equaled by Meryl Streep, who plays the Catholic School principal who accuses Hoffman’s Father Flynn of being a pedophile. What I love about the film is that it lives up to it’s name, putting great doubt into the viewer, and Meryl Streep’s subtle and brilliant performance helps do this.
7. Julie & Julia (2009)
This film adaptation of a book chronicling the attempts of a young chef to cook all of famous culinary master Julia Child’s recipes from one of her books. Of course, Streep plays Child and does so to near perfection. She was able to mimic the famous chefs mannerisms and accent so well, while still managing to be extremely entertaining. She’s proven that she can be anyone she wants to be on screen, and this was a great example.
6. Defending Your Life (1991)
‘Defending Your Life’ is a wonderful comedy that was created and starred in by Albert Brooks. He plays a business man who is ‘on trial’ for his spot in the afterlife after a car crash. During his time there, he meets a woman name Julia played by Streep, and they fall in love as they both await trial. Streep and Brooks are both great, and create a really moving and funny film.
5. Sophie’s Choice (1982)
While most agree on it’s merit, some critics have mixed feelings about the film itself. However, no matter what you think, Sophie’s Choice was no doubt one of Meryl Streep’s all time best performances, and it earned her a second Academy Award, and her first for Best Actress. She plays a polish woman with a dark past, and to talk more about it would likely spoil the film. Just know that Streep is electric.
4. The Bridges of Madison County (1995)
One of Clint Eastwood’s best directorial efforts, in which he also starred, ‘The Bridges of Madison County’ was destined to be powerful, presenting a meeting between two of the greatest screen presences in cinema history. The film is about a worldwide professional photographer, who stumbles upon a farmhouse while working. He strikes up a short romance with Streep’s character, a plain housewife, and the results is a film that many say is 100 times better than the book it is based on.
3. The Deer Hunter (1978)
One of the all time great films of any lifetime, ‘The Deer Hunter’ was one of Meryl Streep’s first big roles, as the lover back home of Robert De Niro’s character. Her role is relatively small, and may be overlooked in the midst of De Niro and Walken at their best, but it’s brilliance is clearly shown by what would follow, as it provided a platform for her future success.
2. Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)
Arguably the best Meryl Streep movie ever, and her first Oscar win for Best Supporting Actress, ‘Kramer vs. Kramer’ showcased the brilliance of Streep and Dustin Hoffman as a couple in the midst of a divorce, and their battles to attain custody of their child. Between Streep’s changing moral center and Hoffman’s learning how to be a father, combined with their electric scenes together, including a famous lunch table argument, this is truly a masterpiece.
1. Manhattan (1979)
Woody Allen has made so many films, and he is one of Hollywood’s most polarizing directors. But few will argue that Manhattan is one of his best and one of the best of it’s kind. Streep plays Jill, an ex-wife turned lesbian who continues to abuse Allen’s protagonist and make his life hell. She is wonderful in her role, and truly helps set the tone in many ways for what could have been Allen’s best film. That’s why Manhattan takes home the number one spot.