10 Best Meryl Streep Movies
Is Meryl Streep the greatest actress to ever grace the silver screen? I will answer that question and also highlight 10 of the best Meryl Streep films from the full Streep Filmography. This fantastic actress first burst on the seen in 1978 with her performance as Linda in the gripping drama, The Deer Hunter. She had starred in one previous feature film but it was this Oscar nominated role that alerted the world of this promising young actress.
What is most amazing about Meryl Streep is not that she has been nominated for a record 17 Oscars (14 for Best Actress and 3 for Best Supporting Actress) and that the next closet nominee is Katherine Hepburn with 16 overall nominations (the closest male is Jack Nicholson with 12 nominations). No, what is most surprising is that she has achieved those 17 nominations across ONLY 48 films. That means that 35% of the time that she appears on the screen, she is nominated for an Oscar! Which also rivals Katherine Hepburn who earned 16 nominations across only 43 films. Clearly both legendary actresses were quite selective in the roles that they would accept.
And while Katherine Hepburn has won 4 Oscars to Meryl Streep's 3 Oscars, there are two facts to keep in mind. First, Streep is only 63 years old and Hepburn was acting until she was 84 years old. If Streep is able to continue acting for the next ten years, it is safe to assume she will surpass Hepburn's record. Second, while Hepburn was an outstanding actress and a joy to watch on stage, there was far less competition during her primary era of 1930s to the 1970s. Here are some statistics on the total number of US Domestic Films released to theaters across a number of years:
There are twice as many films released in the US each year now versus back in the height of Hepburn's screen reign. While we could argue the quality of the Best Picture nominees between the eras, one thing is clear; more competitions means more top Directors, Actors, Actresses and great films. Consequently, I think it is clear that what Streep has accomplished during her era of film-making was more difficult to achieve than Hepburn's record during her era.
For me it is obvious, Meryl Streep is the greatest actress -- not just among her current peers -- but the greatest actress of all time!
This ranking of the best Meryl Streep films is based on the movie rankings of members at Rankography top ten movies. We compiled a composite of all the member rankings to arrive at these top ten Streep movies.
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10. Postcards from the Edge (1990)
A Witty Drama Based on Carrie Fisher's Autobiographical Book
Meryl Streep takes a break from her usual heavy weight drama to star in this comedy drama based on Carrie Fisher's best-selling novel about her battle with drug addiction. Suzanne Vale (Meryl Streep) is a high-strung, well-known Hollywood actress who is forced to enter a drug rehabilitation clinic after an overdose. Following her release from the clinic, she moves in with her loving but self-centered mother, Doris Mann (Shirley MacLaine), a famed musical star from the 50's. Appeasing the producers of her next film who believe that Suzanne needs a responsible person to look after her during the filming, living with her mother proves to be both a funny and cathartic experience.
The tale unfolds as mother-daughter weave their way to each others hearts, overcoming their egos to re-establish their relationship. As always, Streep turns in a marvelous performance. Streep is quite funny as she throws in Fisher's signature lines with comic radiance. She takes to comedy so naturally that we begin to wonder if there is anything she can't do. MacLaine exudes classic movie star grace. She's fun and addictive to watch especially when she belts out showtunes.
Directed by Mike Nichols, Postcards from the Edge was nominated for 2 Academy Awards including Best Actress (Streep). The film also includes Gene Hackman, Dennis Quaid, Richard Dreyfuss, Rob Reiner and Annette Bening.
Postcards is a cinematic delight and a must see for any Streep fan.
If you enjoyed Postcards from the Edge... - You should also enjoy It's Complicated
Another witty comedy drama about real life. Meryl Streep, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin star in this hilarious look at marriage, divorce and everything in between.
9. Julie & Julia (2009)
Julie & Julia is a heartwarming comedy drama film based on Julie Powell's book, Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen. Julie Powell (Amy Adams), a 30-year-old unsuccessful writer living in a rickety apartment in Queens, wants to do something extraordinary with her life. Without any immediate prospects, she challenges herself to cook her way through Julia Child's (Meryl Streep) classic 1961 cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year.
Her one year story is intertwined with the Julia Child's life story of becoming a culinary legend. Directed by Nora Ephron and much like her film, Sleepless in Seattle, this film combines of two parallel stories in which Julie and Julia's lives are shown as eerily similar. While Julia ventured into cooking in the post-WWII era, Julie finds ventures into Child's cookbook in the post-9/11 era, but both were seeking something extraordinary out of life.
In a world where men dominate, Ephron creates strong female characters that resonate with audiences. As always, Streep transforms into her character and performs with such ease and precision that she lights up the screen. Adams proved a worth costar with Streep for the second time (they also paired in Doubt). While young, we can expected great things from Adams.
Streep was nominated for the Best Actress Oscar but lost to a worthy, Sandra Bullock for her performance in The Blind Side. Amazingly, this was Streep's 16th nomination for the Best Actress Oscar. She has won 3 Oscars but only 2 for a Leading role.
8. Doubt (2008)
A Gripping Performance by Two Hollywood Greats
This is the film adaptation of Director John Patrick Shanley's Tony winning play of the same name. Doubt tackles the sensitive issue of child abuse in the Catholic Church. The film is set in 1964 at a Catholic school in New York. Sister Alysious Beauvier (Meryl Streep) is the forbidding and conservative principal who suspects that her supervisor, Father Brendan Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman) may be developing an unhealthy friendship with one of the school's students, Donald Miller (Joseph Foster).
Reinforced by the observations of a young nun, Sister James (Amy Adams), she confronts Father Flynn which leads to a verbal duel and series of administrative moves that can only end with the termination of one of the two schoolmasters.
Doubt will leave you questioning your moral attitudes about authority figures and the responsibilities of both their bosses and subordinates. All three of Streep, Hoffman and Adams were nominated for their gripping performances in this tension-filled film. Pitted as fierce enemies, both Streep and Hoffman deliver their roles with a vigor that few other actors could rival. Adams is a convincing naÃ¯ve Sister James proving once again that she is a future talent to be reckoned with, but it was Viola Davis' brief, gut-wrenching depiction of Miller's mother that left the audience speechless. Very few actresses have conveyed hurt and hope so genuinely as Davis delivers.
This is one of my personal Top 5 Meryl Streep films and is a must see for all Streep fans.
If you liked Doubt... - Then you should also enjoy
About a different kind of hushed up scandal, cancer-causing environmental damage, Silkwood is the story of Karen Silkwood's (Meryl Streep) courageous fight to blow the whistle at a nuclear power plant contaminating its workers.
7. Adaptation (2002)
A Crazy Journey into the Mind of a Screenwriter
Self-loathing scriptwriter Charlie Kaufman (Nicolas Cage), best known for his works on Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. He is asked to adapt a non-fiction novel by Susan Orlean (Meryl Streep) entitled "The Orchid Thief". Charlie eagerly accepts, appreciating the idea that he will be able to write a screenplay that does not conform to the typical Hollywood script.
While Kaufman struggles to adapt the book into a script, we concurrently meet the book's star, John Laroche (Chris Cooper), an odd orchid enthusiast and ecologist. Laroche is an intriguing character as he chases the mythical "ghost orchid. Kaufman continues to struggle with the script and ultimately enlists his brother Donald (also played by Cage) to finish it up.
Adaptation once again proved that the tandem of director Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman is a force to be reckoned with. Akin to the duo's previous film Being John Malkovich, the film's core characters are based on real people. The film is both a movie about making movies as well as journey through an author's mind. Nicolas Cage gives amazing performances, enough to shun his critics, as he portrays Charlie and his fictional twin brother, Donald. Meryl Streep is perpetually radiant and compelling as the yearning city woman who ultimately finds what she's missing. The supporting cast includes Chris Cooper, Tilda Swinton, Brian Cox and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Although peppered with magnificent actors, the real star of the movie is Charlie Kaufman himself. He is nothing if not genius. Adaptation is a wildly funny, highly satirical and an incredibly clever masterpiece that is one for the books.
The film was nominated for four Academy Awards including Best Actor (Cage), Best Supporting Actress (Streep) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Kaufman) and won one Oscar for Chris Coopers magnificent Best Supporting Actor role
6. Out of Africa (1985)
A Period Piece about An Extraordinary Woman
Director Sydney Pollack, together with scribe Kurt Luedtke, have gracefully crafted a film based on the life and writings of Baroness Karen Blixen (who wrote under the name Isac Dinesen). From a wealthy Danish family, she (Meryl Streep) moved to Africa on a quest for independence in 1913 to marry Baron Bror Blixen (Klaus Maria Barandauer) and run a coffee plantation in Kilimanjaro.
It is a marriage of convenience for he has the title and she has the money. But after giving her syphilis and flaunting his incessant womanizing ways, Karen finds herself lonely and frustrated. She eventually discovers love when she meets Denys Finch Hatton (Robert Redford), the charming aristocratic British hunter. Although he did not even try to feign an English accent, Redford's star quality and charisma more than compensates for his voice. But he is still a runner-up to Streep's classic Oscar-worthy performance and Pollack's hauntingly lyrical direction.
Out of Africa is a lush romantic epic that not only delivers love and longing in its rawest form but also captures the majestic beauty of the untamed Africa. This movie justly earned eleven Academy Award nominations and won seven Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director.
If you enjoyed Out of Africa... - You might also enjoy The French Lieutenant's Woman
A complex plot about a pair of actors, Streep and Jeremy Irons, that portray a couple having an affair in Victorian England. The twist is that the actors are also having an extramarital affair while producing the play. Two brilliant actors pull off the subtle nuances of this complex dynamic.
5. Bridges of Madison County (1995)
A Beautiful Film that Surpasses the Original Novel
Time and time again actor/director extraordinaire, Clint Eastwood, has proven his ability to stretch his range far beyond most actors. Bridges of Madison County finds Meryl Streep returning to the kind of role that put her on the radar and rendering what is probably her most brilliant performance since her definitive film, Sophie's Choice.
Francesca Johnson (Streep), a lonely frustrated housewife who is left alone at home while her husband and two children are away for four days to attend a state fair. A chance encounter with a National Geographic photojournalist, Robert Kincaid (Clint Eastwood), leads Francesca to spend an entire day with a perfect stranger as she guides him towards his destination. This opens Francesca's heart and mind to true love and changes both of them forever.
Rare is a film adaptation better than the novel itself, but this movie is one of those rare films. Based on Robert James Waller's best-selling novel of the same name and adapted by scriptwriter Richard LaGravenese, Bridges is a poignant love story that transcends the ages and leaves a lasting impression to its viewers long after its running time has elapsed.
Eastwood is more than satisfactory as he abandons his usual gun-loving characters and settles for a mellow approach. While Eastwood is quite good int the film, Streep is positively outstanding as she throws in farm woman tiredness with natural intelligence and charm . This Streep movie is a box-office success and gained the actress her 10th Oscar nomination.
4. The Deer Hunter (1978)
A Harrowing Tale of Mental Anguish during the Vietnam War
The Deer Hunter tells the tale of three lifelong friends steelworkers from Pennsylvania that are drafted into the Vietnam War and the ordeals that they endure in war. The film opens with Angela (Rutanya Alda) and Steven's (John Savage) wedding which also acts as a send-off party for the three friends as they head off to Vietnam. There is also the underlying tension of a love triangle in which both Michael (Robert De Niro) and Nick (Christopher Walken) are in love with Linda (Meryl Streep).
In Vietnam, the trio is captured and tortured in a POW camp. They are also forced to play a sadistic game, Russian Roulette, against other prisoners. In Russian Roulette, each prisoner must point and fire a gun at their head. The guns each have one bullet randomly placed in the six chambers. The game has different mental effects on the three friends with Nick being the most affected. After escaping the POW camp, the friends are separated and Nick has become addicted by the masochistic excitement of Russian Roulette.
After their tour is completed both Michael and Steven return home but Steven has lost a leg, but he lets know that he has heard that Nick is still alive and living in the Saigon slums. Michael travels to Saigon to "rescue" Nick and that is all I can tell you without ruining this amazing drama.
The Deer Hunter was incredibly influential when it first came out primarily because of the amazing cast and the controversial storyline. The film was nominated for 9 Academy Awards and won 5 of the Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director (Michael Cimino) and Best Supporting Actor (Walken). This film will most definitely leave a lasting impression on you and certainly provides a grim portrayal of both the living conditions and mental anguish of the POW camps in Vietnam.
If you enjoyed The Deer Hunter... - Then you might also like Apocalypse Now: Redux
The ultimate Vietnam War film, the Redux adds 49 minutes of previously unseen footage including a very unusual scene with the boat squad partying with the Go-Go girls. If you have not seen this film before, it is an absolute must see Vietnam film.
3. The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
Streep Shows her Versatility in this Fun Comedy-Drama Film
Based on Lauren Weisberger's best-selling novel of the same name, The Devil Wears Prada is about smart recent college grad, Andrea Sachs (Anne Hathaway) who has aspirations of becoming a serious journalist. She lands an interview with the Editor of a Vogue-like magazine, Runway. She decides to interview on a whim but it is not a "serious" journalism job in her mind.
Because she is basically an anti-fashion, journalism grad, she does not know much about Runway's Editor, Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) and she is not intimidated by her -- like everyone else in the industry. It is this non-conformist, not intimidated attitude that interests Priestly and she decides to take a chance on Sachs. However, the job initially appears to be a disaster. Sachs fails at several simple tasks, however over time she gains an appreciation for fashion and Priestly gains an appreciation for her.
The Devil Wears Prada is like every young girl's dream as it brings each viewer into the glamorous world of high fashion business. There was a bit of controversy because of rumors that the Miranda Priestly character was inspired by Anna Wintour, Editor of Vogue, US. While an unflattering representation at times, it ends as a respectful performance and we come to appreciate Priestley. Streep was nominated for her record 14th Academy Award nomination for the film. As this most expensively-costumed film in history, it earned over $124M at the box-office.
2. Sophie's Choice (1982)
A Forced Decision that Haunts a Young Woman Forever
Sophie's Choice opens with Stingo (Peter MacNicol), an aspiring author who moves to Brooklyn in order to start writing his book. He meets a beautiful Polish immigrant, Sophie (Meryl Streep) and her lover Nathan (Kevin Kline). Whereas Sophie is a Catholic concentration camp victim and survivor, Nathan is an alcoholic Jew with bipolar mood swings who is obsessed with the Holocaust. Stingo finds himself fascinated by the couple and also ends up falling in love with Sophie.
Gradually over time, he learns more about Sophie's horrific past in the concentration camp. She is haunted by memories and ultimately Stingo and we learn of the brutal choice that Sophie was forced to make that haunts her every minute of everyday. Stingo also realizes that the Sophie and Nathan's unhealthy relationship is plummeting down a sinkhole and he must find a way to save them?
While it may be unfair to think that Sophie's Choice is all Meryl Streep, one cannot help but be awed by the actress' sheer magnificence in this film. Streep is inarguably the most vital ingredient of this near masterpiece by accomplished Director, Alan J. Pakula. The film may have been excellent without her, but with her, it transcends greatness. Meryl Streep deservedly won an Oscar for Best Actress with this film, her first of three Oscar wins -- so far. This is a must see Streep Movie as you will surely get a sense for why many, including myself, believe she is the greatest actress to ever grace the silver screen.
1. Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)
A Tale of Divorce That Ripped Through America in the 60s and 70s
Every legendary actor is catapulted into stardom by one key role and Kramer vs. Kramer was the film that paved the way for Meryl Streep's ascent. Showered with nine Oscar nominations and five wins including Best Picture, this film remains one of the films that helped define the baby boomer generation.
The 60s and 70s saw an explosion in the divorce rate throughout the world, but especially in the US, and this film delves into the children shattered by divorce. When Joanna Kramer (Meryl Streep) leaves, Ted Kramer (Dustin Hoffman) is forced to assume both the father and mother role for their six-year-old son Billy (Justin Henry). Billy has been traumatized by the split and has difficulty adjusting. But just as Ted and Billy begin to cope with their situation, Joanna returns to fight for her son's custody.
Both Meryl Streep and Dustin Hoffman provide heartfelt performances that earned them Oscars for Best Supporting Actress and Best Actor, respectively. This was Streep's first Academy Award and her second nomination. But even with her impeccable portrayal of the sympathetic yet unlikable Joanna, and Hoffman's brutally honest take on his role, the real kudos go to Henry for his portrayal as their brutalized son. Despite his young age, he played the role with ingenuity and ease well beyond his years.
If you liked Kramer vs Kramer... - You might also like Places in the Heart
Sally Field picked up a second Oscar for her role as a gritty widow in 1930s Texas struggling to keep the family farm with the help of her children and boarders. Fine semi-autobiographical drama from Robert Benton ("Kramer vs. Kramer") also stars John Malkovich, Lindsay Crouse and Ed Harris.