Meryl Streep’s career could fill a collection of biographies, so we are going to do question and answer here and have just some highlights and observations. A note I have not seen all the films in the Meryl Streep filmography so it is possible I may watch The House of the Spirits or It’s Complicated and change my answers.
Meryl’s Best Movie?
While there are some movies that have reached higher praise I will go with Defending your Life as her best film.
Meryl is perfect as the happy and funny and sweet and sexy love interest to neurotic Albert Brooks. What could be a throwaway role turns into a funny bright, and sexy surprise. It really helps make the movie believable because who couldn’t overcome their generational fear to spend eternity with Meryl Streep.
By the way if you haven’t seen Defending your Life it is like a film version of The Good Place with an excellent Rip Torn in the Ted Danson role.
Meryl’s Worst Movie?
Artificial Intelligence: AI hands down is the worst film. In reality AI is everyone’s worst movie who appeared in it with the possible exception of Robin Williams who also has Patch Adams on his filmography.
I won’t go into detail in this post why AI is such a horrible film. Meryl plays the Blue Fairy, you know, the one from Pinocchio in an ending that rivals that of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Okay, I feel a rant coming on better get to the next question.
Meryl’s Best Performance?
I will split this among two films that have a lot in common. Both are of Meryl playing real life people that are very well known. And both films are so fundamentally flawed you kind of wish someone would have done an intervention. The two films are Julie & Julia and The Iron Lady.
Julie & Julia would have been a perfect film if it was just called just Julia and Amy Adams’ role as Julie was reduced to a glorified cameo like The Joker in Suicide Squad. (This isn’t all Amy Adams’s fault, mind you, but her character was so awful and Streep was so good…)
Meryl also gives an incredible performance in Iron lady (Well deserved Oscar win) but Iron Lady is a hopeless biopic saddled with a bizarre framing device of a senile Thatcher talking to her dead husband. A framing device that takes up endless screen time away from an already hurried story.
Meryl’s Worst Performance?
I know they praise it in other quarters, but I genuinely did not like Meryl’s performance in Doubt. Particularly her big scene at the end the denouement. It just felt off to me. However, I would be remiss in mentioning a filmed stage performance I discovered while doing this filmography. Let me leave a video below. (Keep in mind this is after two Oscar wins)
What film haven’t you seen of Meryl’s that you know want to?
Kiss Me, Petruchio as much for Raul Julia as Meryl Streep. Ricki and the Flash looks like fun as well (She made this the same year as Suffragette. She looks thirty years older in one than the other. Honestly amazing range.)
Anything Else learned, or you would like to add?
You know if you are playing six degrees of Kevin Bacon, just remember he was in The River Wild with Meryl Streep (and John C. Reilly of all people). Meryl has worked with literally everybody. She has made so many films. I mean, I could name ten favorite Meryl Streep films. (I can’t believe I didn’t mention her performance in Adaptation above) and still leave movies off. Heck, even with 21 acting nominations I still managed to pick a movie she wasn’t nominated in for as my favorite movie.
She has a quiet and by all accounts successful personal life. She has always supported woman’s rights and the environment, often picking projects that highlight such issues. She got in a few Me Too kerfuffle’s. Not for her standing ovation for Roman Polanski, but her lengthy professional relationship with Harvey Weinstein. Meryl herself is quoted as saying “I have been to his office once, for a meeting with Wes Craven for “Music of the Heart” in 1998.” This fills me with regret. We were this close to a Nightmare on Elm Street movie with Meryl Streep and instead we got one of those white liberal teaches classical music to urban youth movies that were all over the place in the nineties.
Meryl’s lack of decent horror movies aside, she is the greatest living actor and honestly deserved a lot more Oscars. And good lord, she loves to work.