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Entries in Months of Meryl (44)

Thursday
Nov082018

Months of Meryl: August Osage County (2013)

John and Matthew are watching every single live-action film starring Meryl Streep.  

#45 —Violet Weston, the cancer-stricken, drug-addicted matriarch of an Oklahoma family.

MATTHEW: Tracy Letts’ high-octane, Pulitzer Prize-winning family drama August: Osage County was the toast of the 2007-2008 Broadway season, which made a cinematic adaptation all but inevitable and the star involvement of Meryl Streep an equally foregone conclusion. The vituperative, pill-popping Violet Weston is the crowning achievement of Letts’ play and arguably the meatiest dramatic role to come along for sexagenarian actresses in the past 15 years. The part has been previously interpreted on stage by the Tony-winning Deanna Dunagan (who originated the character in the initial Steppenwolf production), Estelle Parsons, and Phylicia Rashad, any one of whom could have bowled us over in an alternate film, as might have rumored candidates like Jessica Lange, Sissy Spacek, and Glenn Close. This isn’t to take away a single merit from Streep’s no-holds-barred work, but rather acknowledge that Streep herself is the rare and defiant exception who proves the rule that actresses over the age of 50 are anathema to Hollywood’s gatekeepers.

Before falling in love with the eye of the camera, Streep was first and foremost a creature of the theater...

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Thursday
Nov012018

Months of Meryl: Hope Springs (2012)

John and Matthew are watching every single live-action film starring Meryl Streep. 

#44 — Kay Soames, a lonesome woman trying to revitalize her stagnant marriage

JOHN: Tommy Lee Jones and Meryl Streep have screen personas as disparate as the parts of a taijitu. While Streep actively courts her audience with vital charisma or some captivating form of transformation, Jones seems just as satisfied to pretend that the audience isn’t there, rarely soliciting our sympathy or even our attention. What a surprise, then, to see each actor force the other to explore previously untapped potentials in this later stage of his/her career and deliver a performance as nuanced and exciting as the very best work in their respective filmographies.

In David Frankel’s Hope Springs, Streep and Jones are Kay and Arnold Soames, a couple married for 31 years who now regard each other like estranged roommates. They rarely speak to one another aside from the occasional “good morning” and “good night.” A hug a day is the extent of their intimacy; they haven’t had sex in almost four years...

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Thursday
Oct252018

Months of Meryl: The Iron Lady (2011)

John and Matthew are watching every single live-action film starring Meryl Streep. 

#43 —Margaret Thatcher, the polarizing British prime minister.

MATTHEW: After decades of heavy speculation about when, not if, Meryl Streep would finally win her third Academy Award, the most widely admired actress of all time picked up another trophy for a performance that may best be remembered as a textbook study in How to Win an Oscar. Despite stiff, down-to-the-wire competition from The Help’s eminently deserving Viola Davis, who transcended lackluster material in much the same way that Streep herself did in her most acclaimed tour de force, the actress sailed to victory after a season’s worth of ovations and exposure. The months preceding Streep’s first Oscar win in nearly 30 years found the acting legend accepting her eighth Golden Globe, her fourth New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress, her second BAFTA Film Award, her very first Vogue cover story, a Kennedy Center Honors lifetime achievement tribute, and endless publicity concerning one of the most challenging roles of her late career, that of Margaret Thatcher in what should rightfully be called Phyllida Lloyd’s The Iron Lady, but might just as suitably be described as Meryl Streep’s The Iron Lady. And when one truly considers the sheer size and notoriety of the role, who could have possibly topped Streep that year? Conversely, when truly considering the actual performance that returned Streep to Oscar glory, away from all the myth/history-making hubbub that surrounded it, one could be forgiven for wondering, Is that all there is?

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Thursday
Oct182018

Months of Meryl: It's Complicated (2009)

John and Matthew are watching every single live-action film starring Meryl Streep. 

 

#42 —Jane Adler, a successful bakery owner caught in a love triangle with her ex-husband and her architect.

JOHN: Quick: name a recent American movie starring a 60-year-old woman who, in attempting to enliven her long-deferred sex life, is pursued by not one but two enamored men. Additionally: name a film like this that grossed over $200 million worldwide. Perhaps the only correct answer is Nancy Meyers’ It’s Complicated, which is itself a testament to both the rarified and barrier-breaking career of its leading lady, the one and only Meryl Streep. “Only” because, well, who else but Streep could get a movie like this off the ground and steward it toward a box office tier reserved almost exclusively for inane, teenager-courting blockbusters? In her 2011 Vogue cover story, Streep remarked that “in the period of Silkwood, [It’s Complicated] could never have been made, with a 60-year-old actress deciding between her ex-husband and another man. With a 40-year-old actress it would never have been made.” It’s Complicated is a star vehicle that is in some ways completely uncomplicated, but in other ways downright revolutionary, showcasing the effervescent charisma of its beloved star while also demanding that audiences consider a woman who undoubtedly exists in the real world but hardly ever graces the big screen... 

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Thursday
Oct112018

Months of Meryl: Julie & Julia (2009)

The Filmography: Across 52 films, Meryl Streep taught America how to act, and how to accept awards. It’s been 41 years since Ms. Streep’s first film. Today we might think we live in the world Jennifer Lawrence, Brie Larson, and Alicia Vikander made, but beneath it all is Meryl, 69 if she’s a day, and no one can touch her.

The Contenders: Too young to recall The Hours press tour, and much too young for any pre-Devil Wears Prada context, really, Matthew and John  were looking for a challenge. And from Still of the Night to Dark Matter, they found it. Risking their sanity, their jobs, and Ingmar Bergman centennial retrospectives, they have signed on for a deranged assignment.

365 days. 52 films. A dozen-plus accents. Three Oscars. Two boys. One refurbished Blu-Ray player. How far will it go? We can only wait. And wait. And wait...

The Months of Meryl Project. Wrapping up soon on a blog you’re already reading.

#41 — Julia Child, beloved chef and unanticipated television star of singular personality.


MATTHEW: In surveying all 21 of the films that constitute Meryl Streep’s history-making haul of Academy Award nominations, Nora Ephron’s Julie & Julia, to my mind, represents an acting challenge that only this stupendous performer could have possibly played and been rewarded for playing...

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Thursday
Oct042018

Months of Meryl: Doubt (2008)

John and Matthew are watching every single live-action film starring Meryl Streep. 

 

#40 —Sister Aloysius Beauvier, a nun and Catholic school principal who wages battles with a suspicious new priest.

JOHN: Arriving at John Patrick Shanley’s 2008 film adaptation of his Pulitzer Prize-winning play Doubt felt like stumbling upon a waterfall in the desert. After a fallow period marked by smallish, adequate performances in dull-to-dreadful films, Meryl Streep finally inherited a meaty, challenging role in a tony adaptation well worth her time and talent, and alongside fellow acting titans at that.

In Doubt, it is 1964, and Sister Aloysius Beauvier (Streep) is the harsh and unforgiving principal of a Catholic school in the Bronx. Feared by most students and routinely respected by her fellow nuns, especially the younger, guileless Sister James (Amy Adams), Sister Aloysius comes to believe that a heinous crime has been perpetrated under her roof...

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