Meryl Streep was nominated again for an Oscar — a Best Supporting Actress nod for her performance in “Into the Woods.” Patricia Arquette won, but Streep broke her own record with 19 nominations. The next most-nominated actors are Katharine Hepburn and Jack Nicholson, each with 12 nominations. She’s won three already, and still nobody hates her! Here are Meryl Streep’s 15 greatest performances.
Where did she come from, this plain-faced yet ethereal young golden-haired graduate from Vassar? Take a look at this powerful Vietnam War film and behold how she ties together the horrors of combat with the sadness of the home front.
Just when audiences were reeling from their first viewing of la Streep, she came back with this little-seen 1979 cult classic, where she plays the mistress of U.S. Senator Joe Tynan (Alan Alda). You have to excavate to find this film, but it’s worth it.
Streep her first Oscar in 1979 playing one half of a divorced couple battling for custody over their 8-year-old son. Words cannot express the domestic intensity of this Oscar-winning film, or the acting ballet between Streep and Dustin Hoffman.
This is one for the acting classes to analyze. Streep received her first Best Actress Oscar nomination playing Sarah, a 19th-century English pariah; and Anna, a modern-day film actress. Both Anna and Sarah are in passionate affairs with Jeremy Irons’ incarnations of the leading men.
The greatest performance in film history? Streep’s Oscar didn’t even begin to stress the accolades heaped upon her for playing a tortured Holocaust survivor. She speaks Polish, she speaks German with a Polish accent, she speaks English with a Polish accent, she has to make a decision, and it’s one of the most crushing moments in the cinema.
One of the coolest performances ever has Streep playing the real-life rebel who brought an Oklahoma power plant to its knees in the ’70s. The doomed Silkwood is played with confidence, zest, and beautiful flaws by Streep. The film also has some great Cher and Kurt Russell performances.
In what might be Streep’s finest, darkest few hours with a fellow actor, she plays a raging alcoholic suffering from physical and emotional illness alongside Jack Nicholson’s hard-drinking schizophrenic in a harsh, wintery Great Depression-era Albany.
“The dingo ate my baby!” This quote that everyone still laughs at is laced in heartache and desperation. With an Australian-accent and dark, mushroom haircut, Streep played Lindy Chamberlain in one of her most intense performances. It’s a riveting true story.
She sings. She is an alcoholic. She takes pills. She sleeps around. She goes to rehab in Hollywood before it was so “Hollywood.” And Suzanne Vale lives with her mother, the overbearing Shirley MacLaine. This is a savage Mike Nichols comedy and a disheveled, brilliant Streep.
Streep with her head turned 180 degrees? That’s part of the diabolical, wicked fun of this Goldie Hawn-Bruce Willis-Streep revenge comedy. The film was made in 1992. It’s still hilarious and zany to watch Hawn and the very pretentious Streep battle it out.
As the lonely Italian immigrant wife who has an affair with a National Geographic photographer (Clint Eastwood), Streep has never been more graceful.
She plays Susan Orleans, the real-life writer of “The Orchid Thief” book, yet it’s a Charlie Kaufman movie, so fiction and reality get thrown into the blender. Streep’s strange chemistry is wonderful with Chris Cooper, who plays the toothless orchid thief. The scene where she’s on the orchid drugs is some fine acting.
The three women are all the same, yet so different, and they all spring from the pen and the passions of Virginia Woolf. Julianne Moore and Nicole Kidman (in an Oscar-winning performance) are wonderful, and Streep’s modern-day New York City woman is visionary.
In a deeply grave, unsettling, and revealing turn for Streep, she digs her claws into John Patrick Shanley’s Broadway firestorm as a Mother Superior of a Bronx Catholic school in the 1950s. Between her, the late great Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams, you won’t know how to hold onto your chair.
The third and latest Oscar for Streep went to this brilliantly executed take on Britain’s controversial prime minister. She is as commanding as a ship in the political arena, but there are also the dark, haunting domestic moments of an old lady and her memories, dying alone in her home. The performance helps make Streep the greatest actress alive.