By- Mrinalini Shinde
“I will never be one of those women, who stay silent and pretty on the arm of her husband.”
–Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher, in ‘The Iron Lady’
A line that seems almost biographical to the actress herself. I am writing this post amidst vast speculation in the media that Meryl Streep’s Academy Award win as Best Actress, was an upset win. That there were worthier contenders. That it was given to her because she has missed out on the statue for way too long. (17 nomination, this being her third win after Sophie’s Choice in 1982.)
So, distancing myself from all the conspiracy, I just felt like taking a few moments to pay a small tribute to one of my favourite actresses. New York even declared 27th May to be ‘Meryl Streep Day’. So, as the Vanity Fair cover below claims, what makes Meryl Streep America’s greatest actress?
I haven’t watched all her work. Just about half, actually. But each of those performances left me awed by her talent, and the effort she takes in order to appear effortless, that the characters become her, and she, them. From her first Oscar winner- Kramer v. Kramer, the portrayal of a confused, layered character of a mother rediscovering herself and her family, to the playing the mother who had to make the ultimate choice between her two children, or the unscrupulous mother in The Manchurian Candidate. An Italian Bride, in The Bridges of Madison County, and the powerful journalist in Lions for Lambs. A warm chef, as Julia Child in Julie and Julia, and a severe nun in Doubt. The sheer range of characters she has portrayed, each convincing, is remarkable. The homework she does is evident from her acute grasp of accents too.
High intensity drama, is easily Meryl Streep’s territory, and her outings in comedies like Prime, as a Jewish therapist, and in It’s Complicated were far below the Meryl we’d grown used to. But her stunning act in Mamma Mia! is more than fair compensation. The sight of this crazy, energetic, middle aged woman, jumping, dancing, singing and just being so much fun, is brilliant, while still managing the poignancy attached to her familial life.
However, my favourite Meryl Streep persona would undoubtedly be Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada. The ruthless, sarcastic almost cruel boss, hiding a vulnerable woman filled with insecurities and regrets is great, but the ease with which she adopts mannerisms, is almost unsettling. It wasn’t her greatest role, but I loved her in it.
And now to The Iron Lady. The many layers of pancake makeup, coiffed hair, power dressing suits, accent and modulation; all the elements to imitate Mrs. Thatcher did not take away the fact that this was Meryl’s film. It was not so much of a biopic about Great Britian’s only woman Prime Minister, as much as it was a showcase of Meryl’s powers of portrayal. So is that skewed direction, or a salute to a performer is a matter of opinion.
But, to a lady, who I think, so forgets all else while living in the skin of her characters, that she makes it impossible for us to forget that she’s the one inside, we’d like to congratulate you, on your yes, third Academy Award.
As Miranda Priestly would conclude, “That’s all.” 🙂