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A-List: Meryl Streep

By Josh Spiegel

August 6, 2009

She wants you to play This Little Piggy with her.

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After 15 Academy Award nominations and two wins, you might think that an actress as prolific as Meryl Streep would slow down for a few years, kick back her heels, and bask in the glow of being such a recognizable star. Instead, she's about to walk into the kitchen and portray one of the most famous television chefs, Julia Child; this year, we'll also hear her in the stop-motion animated movie Fantastic Mr. Fox, directed by Wes Anderson. There is no slowing down the brute force of Meryl Streep.

Streep is easily the current grande dame of American actresses. The Brits have Helen Mirren, Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and a few other great ladies, but we Yanks have Streep, and only her these days, at least in terms of output. She has accrued more Academy Award nominations than any other actor or actress, more Golden Globe nominations than any other actor or actress (23 noms and six wins, in case you're curious), and already got her lifetime achievement award from the American Film Institute; as jaw-dropping as all of that is, Streep just turned 60. If she never quits, we might be looking at Streep getting 20 Oscar nods or more. The amount and quality of work she turns in is simply awe-inspiring. There are, unfortunately, few actresses these days who seem poised to take on her crown any time soon.




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Of course, no actor is perfect; Streep has had a fair share of clunkers (last year brought the truly abominable Mamma Mia!; I cannot express in the length of this column exactly how atrocious this movie and Streep's performance were). Still, even if you question some of her choices, or even some of the work she got nominated for (The Devil Wears Prada? Really?), there is no denying that this is a phenomenal actress we're talking about. Not only is she one of the best actresses working today, or at any time in her career, but she's one of the best actresses to ever grace the silver screen. So, this week, the A-List takes a look at Ms. Streep's best work on the big and small screens.

Manhattan

Though her role is not the biggest nor the most memorable, Streep is appropriately haughty and icy as Jill, the lesbian ex-wife of the lead character of Manhattan, Isaac (Woody Allen, who wrote and directed). She's writing a tell-all book about her failed marriage to the nebbishy would-be novelist, who's currently involved with a leggy high school student. Though Jill is essentially another thorn in Isaac's side, not something major he has to deal with, Streep is quite good in her short time on screen, not only being physically imposing compared to the shorter neurotic, but even makes you think, if only for a few seconds, that such a woman would ever be attracted to Woody Allen. Then again, most of Allen's movies require such a leap of faith. Still, as an early role, Streep's quite good.


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