Sunday, May 19, 2024

Meryl Streep — Underdog– Has Not Won An Oscar Since 1982. Were You Alive Then?


Everyone says to me, “But Meryl Streep has like thirteen Oscars.” Not true. Our finest actress, a woman who has brought acting to a place beyond nirvana, has not won an Academy Award since “Sophie’s Choice” in 1982. It was her second. Her first, for “Kramer vs. Kramer,” was in the suppporting category. Every two years she’s been a sport, and sat in the audience while losing for magnificent performances in “Doubt,” “The Manchurian Candidate,” “The Devil Wears Prada,” “Marvin’s Room,” “Music from the Heart,” “Ironweed,” “Julie and Julia,” the Dingo ate my baby movie, ” “The Hours,” “Adaptation,” “Out of Africa,”  and so on. She’s sat in the audience, done all the publicity, acted with complete grace. I think Hilary Swank beat her twice. It’s utterly ridiculous. Even in “Prime,” she was a comic genius.

As Margaret Thatcher, Streep does things that are almost beyond review. She is a master acting class. She absorbs into the role and creates a fully rounded fictive character for cinema. This is the only way such a portrayal would work. “Margaret Thatcher” the film creation has to be severely more textured than the real person so as to command our attention. From the moment Streep enters the scene she is in command. After 29 years of graciousness, this is her moment. Perhaps we think of her as an overachiever. A goddess. But in real life, she’s a person. I see her on the uptown 1 train waiting patiently. She shops in the local market. She refuses to have a stylist or a designer dress. (Maybe it’s bad luck, but Meryl–my mom says call Jane Fondda and go shopping with her. Call Armani, or Donna Karan.)

Funniest story: for the Lincoln Center tribute to Diane Keaton a few years ago, Meryl took the #1 train from downtown to Lincoln Center. I ran into her at the top of the stairs. No publicist. She asked me, “I don’t know where to go now. Where would a person like me go?” (Meantime, civilians are watching this exchange slack jawed.) “Meryl,” I said, “There is no person like you.” She blushed, as she does. We found the green room. Relief. And still she was signing autographs as we walked, talking to total strangers. She is endlessly polite, and too nice to ask for–or campaign for–an Academy Award. It’s time to give her one.

PS Did I mention that she and husband Don Gummer have raised four fantastic kids? Just sayin’…And just watch “Heartburnm” when she turns that cake into Jack Nicholson’s face.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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