Meryl Streep! The greatest actress of her generation! Beautiful! Immensely talented! Fiery and full of conviction! And thank you, Meryl, for reminding us that women can not plastic-surgery themselves as they age (with full understanding that she only gets away with it because of her immense stature in the film industry).
I went through a huge Streep craze in my early 20s and tracked down a number of her films, although looking at this list I realize that my favorite of her performances (Silkwood, 1983) is a modern piece — although Plenty is a close second. She’s done more “historical” films than “costume,” but she’s done a ton, so let’s take a look!
A playwright tries to smuggle money into Nazi Germany.
Secret Service (1977)
Something about Civil War spies. She was in the Broadway play (pictured below) which was then shown on TV.
A Jewish family struggle to survive. I’d really like to see this, as it’s a topic I’m very interested in. What I find fascinating is that apparently there wasn’t much cultural discussion of the Holocaust in Germany before this TV miniseries aired there, but it sparked a real consciousness.
One of those film-within-a-films, where Streep and Jeremy Irons play actors who are making an historical film. I remember that the historical stuff was interesting (Streep is an Englishwoman in mid-Victorian England who is shunned by her community for falling in love with a Frenchman), the modern actors not so much. But hey, we get Streep as a redhead!
Sophie’s Choice (1982)
This film was a mixed bag for me, as I was more interested in Sophie’s experiences during the Holocaust than her post-war emotional pain, and because I had already been spoiled on the key plot point… but it’s probably one of Streep’s best roles!
Edited to add: Out of Africa (1985)
Dear god, how could I forget this masterpiece? Well, I can tell you how, but it’s boring and has to do with image hosting on our site. I can’t stand letting this post continue to exist without adding some images of its gorgeousness, and pointing you to posts about the wedding suit and the costume designer.
True story: I was waaaaay too young to see this when it came out, but my best friend’s mom took us. I remember deciding it was my favorite movie because it seemed Really Important, but I TOTALLY didn’t get it. Rewatching it as an adult, yeah, it’s pretty frickin’ amazing in a sober, depressing sort of way. Streep plays an Englishwoman who works for the French resistance during World War II, but the rest of her life will never live up to the excitement of that period.
Streep and Jack Nicholson as Depression-era winos. Sounds like fork-in-the-eye time to me!
The House of the Spirits (1993)
Here’s a GREAT idea: take a hugely popular book by a South American novelist, about South American characters (a rancher and his clairvoyant wife, I think set in the early 20th century but I’m not positive), and cast a bunch of white Americans in the lead roles. Yeah, there’s a reason we’ve never seen it.
The Bridges of Madison County (1995)
A photographer connects with a lonely housewife. Set in the 1960s. YOU COULDN’T PAY ME TO WATCH THIS. (Okay, you could pay me.)
Dancing at Lughnasa (1998)
Based on a play — a bunch of sisters living in rural Ireland in the 1930s. Never seen it. Every theater festival I’ve ever been to includes this play. Haven’t seen the play either.
Technically fantasy, but Streep’s 1890s-inspired gowns — designed by Colleen Atwood — are stunning even if the rest of the film tries too hard.
Julie & Julia (2009)
A modern-day cooking blogger’s journey is intertwined with Julia Child’s life story. I’d like to see it? I guess? Seems like something I’d watch with my mom.
The Homesman (2014)
Pioneer women who have become mentally-ill need to be transported by Tommy Lee Jones and Hilary Swank. Looks butterchurny to me.
Into the Woods (2014)
Technically fantasy, but historically-inspired costumes by Colleen Atwood, and Trystan let me get away with reviewing it. Streep plays a witch who has issues.
Streep has a small part as famed women’s suffrage activist Emmeline Pankhurst in this maybe-too-serious film.
Florence Foster Jenkins (2016)
As a legendarily bad opera singer in the 1930s.
Coming up: Mary Poppins Returns, as Topsy, in 2018.
What’s your favorite Meryl Streep film, historical or modern-set?