First Film: Fred Zinneman’s Julia (1977)
Must-see: Sophie’s Choice (Alan J. Pakula, 1982); A Cry in the Dark (Fred Schepisi, 1988); and Angels in America (Mike Nichols, 2003)
Star Turn: In Clint Eastwood’s three-hankie, four-star adaptation of The Bridges of Madison County (which, let’s face it, is a crappy book), Streep not only elevated the project’s air of respectability, she also upped her own ante by turning in a performance in which there is absolutely no trace of Meryl Streep. She truly was an Italian war bride, a lonely farm wife who finds love with an unexpected stranger.
Underrated: Her good-natured, singing turn in Robert Altman’s final film, A Prairie Home Companion, where her version of “Goodbye to Mama” challenges any viewer to hold back the tears.
Upcoming, Current and/or Recent: She will work with Mike Nichols again, alongside Oscar-winner Jeff Bridges, in Great Hope Springs and play British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in a bio. Last year, her hat trick of Wes Anderson’s The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Nora Ephron’s Julie & Julia (as Julia Child) and Nancy Meyers’ It’s Complicated cemented her as a box office force as well as an acting legend, a trend she started with The Devil Wears Prada (2006) and continued with Mamma Mia! (2008). Streep brings home the bacon.