A week has passed since the 2012 Oscar Ceremony has commenced and what has resonated most is Meryl Streep’s acceptance speech for Best Leading Actress, so I write this blog in dedication to Meryl Streep. While I have yet to see the film, The Iron Lady, which is the performance that earned her the award, I’m sure it was as outstanding as her other performances for which she was nominated 11 times and received her 3rd on this night (only to be outdone by Katherine Hepburn, who has won 4, — so far). As usual, Streep exuded class and grace in her acceptance speech. Contrary to her thought that “half of America was thinking, Oh no! Not again. Not HER!” I thought just the opposite.
I recall one of my first memories of film viewing was watching Kramer vs. Kramer, which earned her a nomination, in which she starred with Dustin Hoffman; together, they portrayed a couple going through an amicable (?) divorce. I thought divorce to be an non-amicable event until that film, but the couple portrayed it lovingly and genuinely. It’s one of those movies that has “stuck” with me, and later in my life I was able to draw from that experience, being the product of my own parents’ divorce. At that point, the film enabled me a perspective on what a couple endured from their perspective.
My second profound memory of a Streep film came when I viewed Sophie’s Choice, a film for which she did earn her first Academy Award. Sophie, a polish prisoner in the Holocaust stood in line with her two children awaiting selection and was posed the ultimatum of choosing which of her two children was to live or die. At that point, I understood the gravity of the Holocaust; moreover, I empathized that I could never make that decision as a mother, for I would rather perish myself.
The Hours, another Streep film, that stands out in my mind was an outstanding performance of an adapted Clarissa Dalloway– based on Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway.
In it, her character defined, for me, what true happiness is in the following quote:
“It had seemed like the beginning of happiness, and Clarissa is still sometimes shocked, more than thirty years later to realize that it was happiness; that the entire experience lay in a kiss and a walk. The anticipation of dinner and a book. The dinner is by now forgotten; Lessing has been long overshadowed by other writers. What lives undimmed in Clarissa’s mind more than three decades later is a kiss at dusk on a patch of dead grass, and a walk around a pond as mosquitoes droned in the darkening air. There is still that singular perfection, and its perfect in part because it seemed, at the time, so clearly to promise more. Now she knows: That was the moment, right then. There has been no other.”
Mama Mia, a feel good film, that I sung my way thru, myself being an Abba fan back in “the” day… struck me as what a stretch. She isn’t a wonderful singer, but she pulled it off and it worked! It sent a message to try… to move out of the comfort zone.
Julia Childs was a woman who annoyed the hell out of me– THAT VOICE!… that is, until she was portrayed by Meryl Streep, who completely redeemed her for me, not to mention she nailed the accent.
One True Thing, The Bridges of MadisonCounty, It’s Complicated, Adaptation,
Postcards from the Edge, Devil Wears Prada, Out of Africa, Silkwood, The French
Lieutenant’s Woman, The Seduction of Joe Tynan, Doubt, Heartburn, The Manchurian Candidate…
A film needs to resonate in your mind long after you’ve seen it. A character needs to stand apart such that she will not be forgotten. An actress needs to embody that character and her story to make her believable, sympathetic, relatable.
Meryl Streep, in her performances, have made me laugh, cry (happy and sad tears); she has shocked me, left me in awe, left me wanting a continuation of the story as not to let go of the character who made such a lasting impression. Her characters and work have lived long in my heart & mind– they have changed me, somehow.
So, Yes, Meryl Streep, you have won, and, once again, I applaud you with the confidence that in the future, I will be applauding you again.