My Favorite Meryl Streep Performances



Roberta Guaspari, Music of the Heart
Confession, I only watched Music of the Heart when it came out because N'SYNC had a song on the soundtrack.


Kate Gulden, One True Thing

Streep is heartbreaking in this sentimental drama about a woman dealing with cancer, a philandering husband (William Hurt) and a long distance daughter (Renee Zellweger).


Lindy, A Cry in the Dark

This is another one of those movie characters whose every move made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. LIndy's child was attacked by a dingo but she ends up a suspect in the death of the child...Streep has rarely been this chilling onscreen...this character is so creepy because you're never sure when she's lying and you're never sure of her guilt or innocence.


Suzanne Vale, Postcards from the Edge

Streep sparkles in this film version of Carrie Fisher's book based on her own life. One of Streep's nineteen Oscar nominations was for this performance as an actress who has been recently released from rehab, on the condition that she movie in with her mother (Shirley MacLaine). Streep heads a solid all-star cast under the masterful direction of Mike Nichols.


Lee, Marvin's Room

Streep found an acting partner on her level here where she and Diane Keaton are sisters who attempt to heal their relationship when it is revealed that one of them has leukemia. Streep and Keaton work really together, and, ironically, Keaton is the one who received the Oscar nomination.


Hannah Pitt, Ethel Rosenberg, The Angel Australia, Angels in America

In addition to this FABULOUS cameo as a male rabbi, Streep won an Emmy for playing three other characters in this historical HBO movie.


Linda, The Deer Hunter

Streep herself has referred to this role as simply "the woman between the two guys" but she brings so much more to her first Oscar-nominated performance.


Helen Archer, Ironweed

Streep really seems to be enjoying herself in a flashy, Oscar-nominated performance that effortlessly combines internalized acting techniques with controlled scenery-chewing.


The Witch, Into the Woods

Streep received a Supporting Actress nomination for this flawless recreation of the leading character in a Broadway musical. Streep plays a witch who offers to help a childless baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) have a child with her assistance and the assistance of other classic fairy tale characters. Streep is brilliant here, staying true to the role as originated on Broadway without ever attempting to imitate the role's originator, Bernadette Peters...Streep puts her own mark on the role, especially in her musicianship...she had me in tears with her rendition of "Stay with Me" and stops the show with "Last Midnight"...just my opinion, but this is another Oscar Streep should have won.


Joanna Kramer, Kramer VS Kramer

This is not the first appearance of this performance on one of my lists but it still belongs here...Streep won her first Oscar playing a housewife who leaves a suffocating marriage but returns a year later for her son. I love this character/performance because the story manipulates us into feeling sympathy for her initially and then turning her into a genuine villain but we never stop liking her and that is attributed to Streep's talent ...her interpretation of the character keeps her likable.


Miranda Priestley, The Devil Wears Prada

Some may question the high placing of this performance on the list, but I don't care, I think this performance is a master class in film acting...Streep plays a hard-as-nails magazine editor who intimidates her new assistant (Anne Hathaway) as well as striking fear in every one of her employees without ever speaking above a stage whisper. And just when you start to hate the character with a passion, the story allows her a window for sympathy and Streep nails it, creating sympathy for a character who doesn't deserve it. I also love the way Meryl looked in this movie.


Julia Child, Julie and Julia

Meryl's larger-than-life interpretation of the famous French chef absolutely MADE this movie, I don't care what anyone says...Amy Adams worked hard as Julie, but for me, the movie only came to life when Meryl was onscreen...another great Oscar-nominated performance.

Defending Your Life better be making an appearance.

"Film is a disease. When it infects your bloodstream it takes over as the number one hormone. It bosses the enzymes, directs the pineal gland, plays Iago to your psyche. As with heroin, the antidote to Film is more Film." - Frank Capra


Sophie, Sophie's Choice

Streep won her first Lead Actress Oscar (though I'm one of the few people on the planet who thinks the award should have gone to Jessica Lange) in this rich complex role as a Polish immigrant caught up in the Holocaust who has to make a VERY difficult decision. This role is the very definition of Oscar-bait but Streep makes it work.


Clarissa Vaughan, The Hours

Streep's performance as a bisexual writer at the beginning of the millenium is one of the best things about this movie.


Karen Silkwood, Silkwood

Streep was again nominated for an Oscar for another portrait of a real-life figure...Karen Silkwood was a plutonium worker who finds out things are not kosher at her plant and risks her job and life when she refuses to stay silent. I love this performance because it's one of the few times Streep has played a "regular Joe"... an ordinary person living an ordinary life but risking everything, including her boyfriend (Kurt Russell), when she learns what's going on. Karen is the kind of person you could sit down at a bar and have a beer with that's why I love her.

There will be no honorable mentions because I've mentioned all the films I wanted to mention and I know there are a lot of memorable Streep performances that I left off this list and for those who feel wronged, feel free to make your own list....and I'm pretty sure my number one is going to raise some eyebrows and some criticism, but it's my favorite Streep performance and I'm sticking to it...and now, my # 1 favorite performance by the incredible Meryl Streep:


Madeline Ashton, Death Becomes Her

Before you start hurling the tomatoes, make sure you have seen this film because this is one of the most underrated black comedies ever made, with a flawless turn from Streep which, ironically, did NOT earn her an Oscar nomination...Streep plays an extremely vain actress who gets her hands on a youth potion from a spooky sorceress (Isabella Rosellini) and then learns that her childhood friend and now sworn enemy (Goldie Hawn) is taking the same potion. Streep is beautiful, entertaining, and as I mentioned earlier in this thread, very sexy. The film did win the Oscar for Outstanding Visual Effects and that one the Academy got right.

Hope you enjoyed the list.