From Mamma Mia to Sophie's Choice: Meryl Streep in 10 legendary roles

From Mamma Mia to Sophie's Choice: Meryl Streep in 10 legendary roles

Like Juliette Binoche during the presentation of the Honorary Palme d'Or, let's look at the great moments of the Hollywood star's career.

50 years of career, 21 Oscar nominations for 3 victories… Meryl Streep is an absolutely immense actress, and it is rightly so that the Cannes film festival honored her this year by presenting her with an honorary Palme d'Or during the opening ceremony hosted by Camille Cottin. As she delivers herself today on the Croisette as part of a masterclass, we take a look back at 10 roles that built the Streepian legend.

Linda in Journey to the end of hell (Michael Cimino, 1978)

Secondary role certainly but one that illuminates the film from the inside and launches a career. Streep is Michael's (Robert de Niro) girlfriend Linda, distraught and anxious at the thought of him leaving for the Vietnam War. It was de Niro who, after seeing her in the theater, introduced the actress to Michael Cimino. Then married to John Cazale, suffering from lung cancer just before also committing to the film, Streep will watch over his health during a shoot of which the actor will unfortunately not see the end. Suffering on both sides of the mirror.

Joanna in Kramer vs. Kramer (Robert Benton, 1979)

I'm leaving you!“If it is obviously Dustin Hoffman who takes the lion's share in Robert Benton's little tear bomb, the success of the film owes enormously to the crazy ambivalence of Meryl Streep (which earned her the Oscar for best actress in a supporting role). Journey to the end of hell and the same year as Manhattan – not too bad as a sequence – the actress imposes a complexity of acting which puts her in the big leagues. She will never leave her again.

Sarah and Anna in The French Lieutenant's Mistress (Karel Reisz, 1981)

After the memorable supporting roles of the late 70's (Journey to the end of hell And Kramer vs. Kramer), The French Lieutenant's Mistress is the film that made Meryl Streep THE great US actress of the decade that is beginning. She and Jeremy Irons each play two roles here: lovers whose romance is complicated by the conventions of the Victorian era, as well as the actors who play them in a film (and also love each other). Back and forth between reality and fiction, mise en abyme… It's extremely chic: screenplay by Harold Pinter, direction by the sobered angry young man Karel Reisz, Mozart in the soundtrack. Very chic, but not academic, first of all thanks to its actress. Flamboyant, romantic, subtle… Extremely Streep.

Sophie Zawistowski in Sophie's choice (Alan J. Pakula, 1982)

Melody on a big subject (the Shoah) adapted from a bestseller by William Styron capable of making people cry in the cottages, amazed the Academy of Oscars and arousing the ire of respectable critics (Pauline Kael then speaks of a movie ” more garish than illuminating “) Streep, demented, snatches Hollywood gold almost immediately after that obtained for Kramer vs. Kramer. Under the illuminations of Pakula's “meringue” staging, the actress is a dormant volcano. The suppressed suffering of his character is about to burst out at any moment.

Karen in Out of Africa: Memories from Africa (Sydney Pollack, 1985)

Meryl Streep falls in love with Africa and the irresistible Robert Redford in this colonial romance adapted from the autobiographical book by Karen Blixen, rewarded with seven Oscars in 1986. Sydney Pollack wanted an actress from the old continent to play this young Danish aristocrat who, abandoned by her husband, falls in love with a handsome adventurer. The most European of American stars will have convinced him that she was made for the role. The delicate sexual tension she establishes with Redford culminates in the shampoo scene that has made many a mother's heart flutter.

Francesca in On the road to Madison (Clint Eastwood, 1995)

On the road to Madison is a completely unique film in Eastwood's directorial career. At 65, the tough guy signed an autumnal melodrama, a sort of little neoclassical fresco, which assumed its (well-hidden) share of sentimentality in a late reconciliation. An old National Geographic photographer falls in love with a married woman. The married woman is Meryl Streep who (re)plays there, the love interest who had sculpted her in the 80's. In the role of this woman, returned from everything and especially from love, she imposes an intense discretion, a spicy monotony, and breathes a form of old-world charm into this depressed housewife whom she transforms into a great, heartbreaking heroine. The rain drumming on the old pick-up, the chords of Lennie Niehaus and the misty and melancholic look of Francesca… You will not find anything sadder than these farewells in all of Queen Meryl's film. A real masterclass.

​​Susan Orlean in Adaptation (Spike Jonze, 2002)

From the 2000s onwards, Meryl Streep turned more and more regularly towards very “fabricated” roles, with disguises, accents, various hairpieces and Actors Studio mannerisms. However, we love it “naturally”, as in Adaptation, by Spike Jonze, where she plays Susan Orlean, a journalist fascinated by an orchid-crazed adventurer played by Chris Cooper. “I want to know what it's like to care about something so passionately“, she says while her myopic gaze, always a little sad, is lost in her glass of white wine. She doesn't need to do too much: Nicolas Cage, in a double role as twins, takes care of to put on a show.

Miranda Priestly in The devil wears Prada (David Frankel, 2006)

When we tell you “a great villain played by Meryl Streep“, you immediately visualize Miranda, and not at all Margaret Thatcher (Iron Woman, 2011)? It's normal: the actress is absolutely brilliant as the boss of a fashion magazine who reigns terror over her employees, starting with poor Andy, who has just been hired into this cruel world (Anne Hathaway). “Is my assistant dead?“, for example, she says to her team, icy, when her coffee order takes a little too long to arrive to her liking. More demonic, you die!

Donna in Mamma Mia! (Phyllida Lloyd, 2008)

On paper it looked like a nightmare. The ABBA songs, the seemingly improvised choreography, the overdose of good feelings and… Meryl Streep. She doesn't know how to sing, doesn't know how to dance, but her enthusiasm and total abandon command respect. In the role of Donna, this feminist and totally free mother who invites two friends to party on a Greek island, Streep was trying at the time to break her image, to come down from her pedestal as a glossy icon, and played a woman beyond all glamor. The worst ? That works.

Katherine Graham in Pentagon Papers (Steven Spielberg, 2017)

Apart from his voice in HAVEStreep had never met Spielberg before this Pentagon Papers, a great film whose writing in this top encourages us to watch it again right away. Pakulesque film (the good side of Alan J., that of The president's men!) Streep plays Katharine Graham, owner of the Washington Post who, in 1971, against the advice of her 100% male board, took the courageous decision to publish compromising documents on American involvement in Vietnam. Nothing for the unbearable scene where Streep on the phone, prolongs the silence – and therefore the suspense – before the liberating “go”, this journey in isolation is worth being (re)lived. The world forever hanging on the lips of the actress.

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