We all know the legend of Meryl Streep. One of the most talented performers in movies, Streep began her career in theater but soon moved to film, where she found success in hard-hitting dramas like Kramer vs. Kramer, The French Lieutenant’s Woman, and Sophie’s Choice. Her riveting performances captivated audiences, and she quickly established herself as a Hollywood powerhouse.
Never afraid to take chances, in 2008 she sang and danced as Donna Sheridan in Mamma Mia!, the big screen adaptation of the hit 1999 stage musical. Streep’s performance was met with acclaim, and Donna Sheridan became a career highlight. Now, ten years after Mamma Mia! first hit theaters, Streep is getting back into Donna’s sandals for Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.
The follow-up picks up ten years after its predecessor and focuses on pregnant Sophie Sheridan (Amanda Seyfried) as she looks into her mom’s past for inspiration about her impending motherhood. With Streep revisiting one of her most beloved characters, let’s take a look at her top five films.
Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)
Kramer vs. Kramer was a career-defining role for Streep. She plays Joanna Kramer, who decides to leave her husband, Ted (Dustin Hoffman) and her son in order to pursue a different life for herself. A year after walking away, however, Joanna returns to retrieve her child, setting off a bitter custody battle between her and Ted.
There’s a special dynamic at play in Kramer vs. Kramer as the film takes advantage of its central divorce plot to tell an ultimately uplifting story about adults learning to become better parents. The film is built on its stellar cast, and uses Streep’s riveting performance sparingly, but to great effect. She bases Joanna on raw emotional components as she slowly comes to terms with the difference between what makes her happy and her son’s best interests.
Sophie’s Choice (1982)
Sophie’s Choice may be Streep’s most haunting performance. She plays Sophie Zawistowski, a seemingly happy Polish woman living in Brooklyn. But she has an abusive boyfriend, and early in the film meets a writer named Stingo who becomes her confidant. Sophie’s lively personality fades away as she opens up to Stingo about her harrowing past as a Holocaust survivor forced to choose between saving one of her two children from death.
Streep carries this film with a marvelously complex performance. She imbues Sophie with a tangible uneasiness that is felt throughout the film. She brilliantly establishes the character’s lively facade as an ineffective coping mechanism for her harrowing emotional pain and constant psychological struggle.
The Bridges Of Madison County (1995)
In The Bridges of Madison County, Streep plays Francesca Johnson, a married woman who begins an affair with photographer Robert Kincaid, played by Clint Eastwood. Their romance is short-lived but it changes both of their lives forever. Streep and Eastwood’s chemistry brings the film’s central relationship to life in spectacular fashion. It’s an absolute treat to see them together on screen playing off of each other’s distinctive personalities, crafting an unforgettable romance in the process.
Streep shines with her portrayal of the morally-conflicted Francesca. The actress masterfully conveys Francesca’s psychological turmoil as she struggles to choose between the love of her life and her doting family. The Bridges Of Madison County doesn’t end on a happy note but delivers an engagingly emotional story that you’ll feel and remember long after the credits roll.
The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
The Devil Wears Prada brings together Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway for a fascinating journey through the highly-competitive world of fashion. Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway) is an aspiring journalist hired as the assistant to Miranda Priestly (Streep), the ruthless editor-in-chief of a renowned fashion magazine.
Streep dominates in a standout performance as an emotionally detached fashion expert with a knack for creative insults. She avoids leaning into stereotypical villain tropes to craft an intricately-layered antagonist. Miranda Priestly doesn’t necessarily find pleasure in her distant demeanor or closed-off personality, but still embraces them as key success components in her competitive and often cutthroat work environment.
The Post (2017)
Steven Spielberg, Meryl Streep, and Tom Hanks are a winning combination in The Post. The period drama details the real-life hardships endured by The Washington Post owner Katharine Graham (Streep) and editor-in-chief Ben Bradlee (Hanks) as they fight to expose government secrets related to the Vietnam war.
The film largely hinges on Katharine Graham as she decides how to proceed with the confidential information at her disposal, given the immense impact it could have on her company and her life. Streep imbues a gripping nuance to her portrayal of Graham, blending her insecurities with a powerful drive that eventually propels her to risk her livelihood in order to publish the truth.
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again will be released in theaters on July 20, 2018.