What’s Meryl Streep’s Best Movie?

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The Big Night is day after tomorrow. Are you ready? Did you vote?? (You still can.)

Now to today’s topic…

To note another one of Meryl Streep’s astonishing performances is to say that puppies are cute, that taxes will be filed come April, and that the internet has changed communication. Precisely why it’s still a good idea to see The Iron Lady.

Streep’s Margaret Thatcher is the stuff of cinema legend – and even though critics and viewers alike are carping about the accuracy of this new biopic (some claim it’s a whitewash, while others argue it’s not reverent enough) clearly none of this matters.

What matters is whether you’re of a mood to see America’s greatest actress take on what could be the role of a lifetime. But of course, where Streep is concerned, maybe it isn’t. See, she’s got a knack for seeing those performances and then raising them one later on, in another movie. Think about her work in Julie and Julia, Doubt, Out of Africa, Kramer vs. Kramer, Silkwood, Sophie’s Choice and The Devil Wears Prada…just to name a fraction of her many films. Still this one is pretty astounding. No one inhabits a role, nor is as riveting to watch as this lady, and when she’s playing the one of the Iron variety, she’s unstoppable. Not that this is exactly news. But the movie is definitely worth catching.

Basically The Iron Lady is not so much a biopic as it is an interior character study. However, one of the movie’s best features is that it teletypes a ton of information  — thus it’s never long-winded. Thatcher’s rise to power is told in the form of flashbacks, but unlike so many of today’s more elaborate setups, her gaze upon a specific signature sends us seamlessly back in time. No further information is needed, and she stays true to Thatcher as a young firebrand, as a charismatic but  implacable middle-aged leader, and as a dotty, addled women struggling with hallucinations. We learn about her origins in a lean way, through snippets and single images; the only constant besides Streep herself is Jim Broadbent, who plays her beloved husband Denis.We see her attempt to shake up the English parliament around 1979, only to watch as the country is plunged further into a class-splitting decline with rampant unemployment. If you’re old enough to remember Margaret Thatcher, you’ll probably recall that she was iconic rather than necessarily beloved, who was also entirely unwavering in her beliefs. She was in office at the same time as President Reagan, and the two formed a close alliance both personally and professionally. So you get the picture – it was a very different period — but what an astonishing rendering Streep delivers.

The only question now is whether or not Viola Davis from The Help can unseat her at this year’s Oscars. Regardless, The Iron Lady delivers a central performance for the ages and the job Streep does actually makes the movie seem more like a documentary than a biopic. It should be required viewing in schools for modern European history. That’s how talented she is – and how much fun she is to watch – because sometimes people are so good at what they do that, well, it seems they’re not really doing anything at all.

Today’s poll:

The Iron Lady is now playing in theaters. Which of these Meryl Streep movies is your favorite:

1)   Julie and Julia

2)   Sophie’s Choice 

3)   Mamma Mia

4)   Out of Africa

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