Spotlight on Meryl Streep
Meryl Streep is one of the busiest working actresses today, starring in 3 films in the last year alone: IT’S COMPLICATED, FANTASTIC MR. FOX and JULIE & JULIA, for which her performance as the much beloved Julia Child has earned her yet another Oscar nomination. In fact, Streep has been nominated for an Academy Award nearly every year since her very first nomination in 1979 for THE DEER HUNTER. And even though her roles in films like THE FRENCH LIEUTENANT’S WOMAN (1981) and POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE (1990) have won her much deserved critical acclaim, she’s only managed to snag two of the golden statues, the first in 1980 for her role opposite Dustin Hoffman in KRAMER VS. KRAMER, which also won in all the big categories that year (Best Actor, Director, Screenplay and Picture), and a second time in 1983 for SOPHIE’S CHOICE.
Streep continues her 17-year nomination streak at next month’s Academy Awards, and in celebration Sundance Channel is showing 3 of her perhaps not lesser-known but recent under-awarded roles all in one night. It all starts Thursday at 8PM with the Spike Jonze/Charlie Kaufman masterpiece ADAPTATION (2002), followed by the star-studded Robert Altman film based on Garrison Keillor’s radio show, A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION (2006) and finishing off the night with THEATER OF WAR (2008), the documentary made on Streep’s performance in The Public Theatre’s 2006 staging of Bertolt Brecht’s “Mother Courage and her Children.”
If you’re only familiar with Streep’s commercially successful work in films like THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA (2006) or MAMA MIA! (2008) then you really ought to introduce yourself to the rest of her career and I can’t think of a better film to begin with than ADAPTATION. Jonze and Kaufman, who previously worked together on BEING JOHN MALKOVICH (1999) hit their peak with ADAPTATION, an über-meta film about a depressive screenwriter struggling to adapt Susan Orlean’s (played by Streep) book on orchids and what happens when he gets a little too involved in her personal life. ADAPTATION goes places you never imagined a movie could; It’s dark and disturbing and Streep is magnificent as a writer who has a drug-addled affair with a backwoods gardener on the hunt for the elusive ghost orchid. After watching it you’ll be ready for singing, light-hearted Streep in A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION, Altman’s final film, and true fans will want to stick around for THEATER OF WAR.