It is difficult to claim that Meryl Streep, an actress who has received 16 Oscar nominations (more than any other male or female in history) and two of those nominations have led to wins, is not given enough credit by the Academy. But ever since I saw the latest movie in which she stars, Phyllida Lloyd’s “The Iron Lady,” earlier this week, I’ve been inspired to do just that.
This performance serves as the perfect reminder that Meryl Streep is the best living actor in the world. She completely turns into Margaret Thatcher, the former British prime leader. Thatcher is not exactly the most endearing or likable figure in history, but the actor manages to humanize her to a degree I never imagined possible. Since Streep’s performance takes up so much of the movie, discussing the movie as a whole is nearly irrelevant. Naturally, Jim Broadbent does his customary excellent character work as the beleaguered husband of the older version of Maggie, Denis Thatcher, and Alexander Head does just fine as Thatcher’s political ally-turned-challenger Geoffrey Howe. Alexandra Roach is also quite good as the younger version of Maggie. The best actress we currently have is portrayed in “The Iron Lady” at the height of her abilities, which is the real reason to see the movie.
Of course, the question is whether that will satisfy the Academy, which has nominated Streep 14 times but chosen to honor someone else on three occasions in the last five years, despite the fact that her outstanding performance in “The Devil Wears Prada” (2006), “Doubt” (2008), and/or “Julie & Julia” (2013) made her utterly deserving of the award (2009). Not that the performances by Sandra Bullock in “The Blind Side” (2009), Kate Winslet in “The Reader,” and Helen Mirren in “The Queen” (2006), which she lost against, were noticeably superior.
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