Last month we asked readers to rank all of Meryl Streep's Oscar nominated performances...
There were 16 of them when the polling began since The Iron Lady was still unseen by many and too fresh for retrospective rank as well. Here are the results in ascending order.
I've included comments on and from the ballots for extra flavor. You'll also find details and guesstimates about that year's Oscar voting though I'm sure you'll "correct" me if you have different ideas about how it all went down, won't you?
16. Music of the Heart (1999)
Role & Balloting: Streep's true story arts-friendly role about a violin teacher (yes, she learned the difficult instrument) is widely seen as her most obvious "default" nomination and though not everyone agrees with its low place in the Streep canon, it ended up in last place with Film Experience readers on 30% of the ballots. Quite a feat when you consider that it was also one of the least seen, absent from another 30% of the ballots. Yikes.
Who Won the Oscar: Hilary Swank, Boys Don't Cry
Other Nominees in Guesstimate Order of AMPAS Love: Annette Bening (American Beauty), Janet McTeer (Tumbleweeds) and Julianne Moore (The End of the Affair) and Meryl (Music of the Heart)
The Dread Sixth Place Finish?: T'was obviously Reese Witherspoon in Election, damnit. Oscar should've picked Flick!
15. Ironweed (1987)
Role & Balloting: Her performance as a severe alcoholic former singer "Helen Archer" was greeted in the 80s as one of her strongest "technical" performances since she's virtually unrecognizable. Nowadways it's the least seen Streep nominated role and one of the most divisive considering where it ranked on ballots that had seen it (all over the place). Ironweed got some attention recently when Anne Hathaway resurrected Streep's "He's Me Pal" for the Kennedy Center Honors.
Who Won the Oscar: Cher, Moonstruck
Nominees in Guesstimate Order of AMPAS Love: Glenn Close (Fatal Attraction), Holly Hunter (Broadcast News), Sally Kirkland (Anna) and Meryl (Ironweed)
The Dread Sixth Place Finish?: I was personally nuts for Emily Lloyd's debut in Wish You Were Here but she wasn't Globe nominated so maybe she didn't have traction. Any 80s Oscar obsessives have an idea about who finished sixth that year? I don't have a strong sense of who.
Reader Comment! Billy Held an Oscar writes:
The first time I discovered Streep was when Kramer vs Kramer aired on television in the early 80s. It was with Ironweed that I became a crazed Streep fan. Ironweed was filmed in my hometown of Troy, NY. One scene was shot inside the Troy Public Library and I remember the barricades set up outside of it - there were hundreds of people standing behind them waiting to catch a glimpse of her - I never did see her. When I finally saw the film in the theatre, I instantly recognized the room in which the scene took place. I later went to the library to sit in the chair that Streep sat in during filming. Before I sat down I just kept looking at the chair expecting to see her image - kind of like the Shroud of Turin, ya know ? I saw it. Streep is God.
14. One True Thing (1998)
Role: Her cancer-stricken mother was not a favorite among readers (placing first on only 1 ballot) though it was also underseen as these things go missing from 25% of the ballots.
Who Won the Oscar: Gwyneth Paltrow, Shakespeare in Love
Nominees in Guesstimate Order of AMPAS Love: Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth), Fernanda Montenegro (Central Station), Meryl (One True Thing) and Emily Watson (Hilary and Jackie)
The Dread Sixth Place Finish?: I'd say Globe Musical/Comedy nominee Jane Horrocks (Little Voice) because her co-star was nominated and because she performed one of the most incredible feats of mimicry I've personally ever seen. Still. To date.
13. The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981)
Role & Balloting: Her dual role was a very big deal in 1981 since it was her first movie lead and follow up to the massive blockbuster Kramer Vs. Kramer. Though it's also underseen today, it holds the curious distinction of being the only role which finished in first and last place in equal measure on your ballots (3% in each case.)
Who Won the Oscar: Katharine Hepburn, On Golden Pond
Nominees in Guesstimate Order of AMPAS Love: Diane Keaton (Reds), Meryl (French Lieutenant's Woman), Susan Sarandon (Atlantic City) and Marsha Mason (Only When I Laugh)
The Dread Sixth Place Finish?: This was before I started watching the Oscars. Any guesses? Key Globe players that missed were Sissy Spacek (Raggedy Man), Bernadette Peters (Pennies From Heaven) and Sally Field (Absence of Malice)
Reader Comment. William writes:
Her eyes are so big and full of yearning and vulnerability, her face is so classically fine – fragile in its delicacy. Her expression is poignant and she makes me gasp and sigh.
This was the only Hepburn vs. Streep Oscar war though they're the gold man's two favorite women. Hepburn famously didn't like Streep's acting. Pam writes:
When I read that one of my actress heroines, Katharine Hepburn, didn't like Meryl Streep, I felt betrayed! Even though many Streep movies will never find their way into the pantheon of great films, her performances alone should be held up as the gold standard for acting talent.
And one last comment from Ben, an actor, which I think is interesting and I really agree with the final sentence:
"In playing dual roles of the titular heroine from the John Fowles novel and the actress playing her she shows a great range, fully understanding and presenting how a character you portray affects the way you live your life off stage/screen, and the haunted morally ambiguous portrayal of a woman brought low in the stifling Victorian societal mores. And Meryl on the Cobb staring out to see for her former French Lover must be the most iconic image in her back catalogue."
12. The Deer Hunter (1978)
Role & Balloting: In the grand scheme of Streep's Filmography this role as a small town girl left by men going to war one is a mere lovely introduction but what a start she had. Of her five first features, three of them were Best Picture nominees and two of them (including this one) won. We wish she'd have another Best Picture run like that.
Who Won: Maggie Smith, California Suite
Nominees in Guesstimate Order of AMPAS Love: Maureen Stapleton (Interiors), Meryl (The Deer Hunter), Dyan Cannon (Heaven Can Wait) and Penelope Milford (Coming Home)
The Dread Sixth Place Finish?: I'm guessing it was Globe nominee Carol Burnett in A Wedding though when I was a younger and first learning about the Oscars in the 80s I always fooled myself into believing retroactively that Stockard Channing had had awards heat for immortal "Rizzo" in Grease. (This was obviously not the case.)
11. Doubt (2008)
Role & Balloting: Her SAG winning role as the stern nun Sister Aloysius Beauvoir was barely absent from any ballots -- everyone has seen it -- but it was second only to Music in terms of number of last place votes (17% of the ballots said No to this Nun). Now, this star turn obviously had fans and lots of awards heat but it also has true haters. Which are you?
Who Won the Oscar: Kate Winslet, The Reader
Nominees in Guesstimate Order of AMPAS Love: Meryl (Doubt), Melissa Leo (Frozen River), Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married), and Angelina Jolie (Changeling)
The Dread Sixth Place Finish?: Sally Hawkins (Happy-Go-Lucky) can arguably lay claim to the most trophied snub in Best Actress history.