Meryl Streep’s film career has spanned over 40 years and in that time, she’s become one of the most esteemed stars of the silver screen. She’s responsible for some our most memorable moments in film – from that iconic ‘Dancing Queen’ sequence with Julie Walters and Christine Baranski in 2008’s Mamma Mia! to her perfectly off-key performance as the singer who can’t sing in 2016’s Florence Foster Jenkins.
She now holds the record for the most Oscar nominations of any actor, having been nominated an impressive 21 times - 17 for Best Actress, and four for Best Supporting Actress - since her first nomination in 1978. And there might even be more to come, since she shows no sign of slowing down.
Now 70, her next film role will be in the comedy film, Let Them All Talk, which tells the story of a celebrated author (played by Meryl) who goes on a journey of self-discovery with some old friends (Candice Bergen and Dianne Wiest). With Meryl leading the cast, we’ve no doubt it will be the latest in an increasingly long line of big screen hits. Here, we take a look back at some of Meryl's most inspiring roles to date…
The Iron Lady
Arguably one of Meryl’s toughest roles, her spellbinding performance in the biopic of one of the most controversial prime ministers in British history proved that she can turn her hand to, quite frankly, any role. Her uncanny portrayal of Margaret Thatcher won her a much-deserved third Oscar – and remains unbeatable to this day.
The Devil Wears Prada
Meryl showed off her brilliantly badass side when she stepped into the shoes of the impeccably coifed and clothed magazine editor Miranda Priestly in this much-loved comedy drama. Powerful, fierce, intimidating and downright terrifying are all words that sum up one of her most iconic characters of all time.
The story of bride-to-be, Sophie, trying to find her real father wouldn’t be half as good without Meryl’s standout performance as Donna Sheridan-Carmichael - Sophie's mother and owner of the hotel Villa Donna. She sings, she dances and she has three former lovers in the form of Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard vying for her affections – what more could you want?
Kramer vs. Kramer
When Meryl began work on this film about a divorce and custody battle (Meryl plays the lead alongside Dustin Hoffman), the then-27-year-old had just lost her 41-year-old boyfriend, actor John Cazale, to lung cancer. Only she could make a movie in the midst of grieving and go on to win an Oscar for it. It was her part in this moving, intelligent film that catapulted her to fame and made her a star.
Florence Foster Jenkins
This hugely enjoyable biopic sees Meryl play a wealthy heiress who attempts to become an opera singer, despite her truly awful singing voice. Her terrible singing skills make for hilarious viewing, plus Hugh Grant stars as her dutiful manager and the pair make an utterly brilliant acting duo.
Death Becomes Her
Perhaps one of the most entertaining films of her career, Meryl leads this classic comedy alongside Goldie Hawn as a pair of rivals who consume a magic potion that promises eternal youth. But sometimes it works – and sometimes it doesn’t. It’s full of hilarious scenes and brilliant one-liners that you won’t forget in a hurry.
The Bridges of Madison County
Meryl has been part of many iconic duos – but her and Clint Eastwood might just top them all. In this beautifully-acted love story, photographer Robert Kincaid (Clint) wanders into the life of housewife Francesca Johnson (Meryl) for four days in the 1960s – and the pair engage in a passionate affair that changes them forever. It's pure romance in every sense.
If you’re looking for an undeniably fun film, this is sure to do the trick. Meryl steps into the shoes of a successful bakery owner and single mother-of-three who starts a secret affair with her ex-husband (yes, ex-husband), played by Alec Baldwin. The result is, quite simply, hilarious.
Julie & Julia
If you haven't seen Meryl Streep’s transformation into a gastronomic goddess, it's about time you streamed this heartwarming film. Meryl brings Julia Child, the chef who introduced French cuisine to the American middle classes in the 1950s, to life with impeccable accuracy, capturing her remarkable skill and playing out her eccentric mannerisms to a T.
Ricki and the Flash
Want to see Meryl as you’ve never seen her before? Watch as she becomes a bona fide rockstar, complete with leather jacket, braids and tattoos in this charming drama. It’s a true family affair too, with Meryl’s real-life daughter, Mamie Gummer, starring as her estranged daughter. The dynamic between them is fascinating to watch.
Into The Woods
In this lavish adaptation of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Tony-winning stage hit, Streep stars as an evil witch who tasks a childless baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) with retrieving magical items from classic fairy tales to reverse the curse on their family tree. The 2014 film brought Meryl an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actress, and is full of music and magic.
The French Lieutenant’s Woman
The image of a young Meryl standing in a black flowing cloak, waves crashing against the Cobb at Lyme Regis is an iconic portrait from this 1981 classic. Adapted by Harold Pinter from the original John Fowles novel, the story is of a movie being made about an biologist, Charles, who is engaged but falls in love with an outcast, Sarah, and begins a short but passionate affair. Actors Anna (played by Streep) and Mike (Jeremy Irons) play the characters of Sarah and Mike – and during the shooting of the movie, they have a relationship that runs parallel to that of their characters. This story within a story is cinematically brooding, and Streep, as ever, is captivating to watch.
August: Osage County
With a star-studded cast that includes Julia Roberts, Ewan Mcgregor and Benedict Cumberbatch, there’s no wonder that August: Osage County made our favourite Streep film list. In John Wells’ adaptation of Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer Prize and Tony-winning play, Streep plays Violet Weston, the pill-popping, chain-smoking matriarch of a large, dysfunctional family that has gathered for her husband’s funeral. She is full-on Oklahoma here – and we love it.
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