If you’re looking towards Hollywood for elegance, class, and acting with a capital A, you don’t have to look much further than Meryl Streep. Streep is arguably our greatest living actor — if not in the running as the best American actor in cinematic history. This claim is in large part to her record 21 Academy Award nominations. She is one of America’s most revered and most-loved actors working today. Regardless of the film, she always manages to deliver moving, breathtaking performances. Simply put, her work is nothing short of inspirational.
30. Into the Woods (2014)
Despite the stellar cast of 2014’s Into the Woods, this fairy tale musical falls short of Streep’s other singing roles. Rob Marshall’s adaptation of the heralded musical is way too showy. The film however is technically accomplished and full of gusto. In particular, Streep’s rendition of “Last Midnight” — blue hair swirling amid a literal tornado of emotions — was as moving as it was visually striking. Amidst all of Streep’s accolades, her performance of Stephen Sondheim’s indelible songs isn’t particularly memorable.
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29. Heartburn (1986)
Few are better with Nora Ephron’s words than Streep. However, there’s an undeniably bitter sentiment coursing through the whole film that makes it very difficult to invest in any other of the characters (despite the fantastic performances by Jack Nicholson and Streep). Based on Ephron’s rocky marriage to Carl Bernstein, this dream team of actors sadly falls flat. She apparently had too much anger to transform the facts into entertaining fiction. This is a bitter, sour movie about two people who are only marginally interesting. It has little to say about infidelity, marriage, and career choices women must make. It’s a terrible use of Streep, who plays a sad woman put upon by her boorish husband.
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28. The Manchurian Candidate (2004)
On paper, this film looks like a can’t-miss. But the film itself is hardly monumental. Corporations, not commies, are the sinister force behind Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme’s The Manchurian Candidate. Alongside Denzel Washington, Streep plays Sen. Eleanor Shaw — a stage mother from hell who pushes her son Raymond (Liev Schreiber) into the vice presidency. Eventually, a timely assassination will make him president. Raymond has a chip implanted in his skull which will allow Manchurian to control him. Though Streep is as evil as Angela Lansbury’s 1962 version, she’s just not as captivating here as she’s been in other villainous roles.
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