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5 Roles That Have Defined Meryl Streep's Career So Far

By    |   Tuesday, 05 May 2015 07:22 PM

Meryl Streep has more Academy Award nominations than any other actor or actress. Following a 2014 nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role in "Into the Woods," Streep's nomination totals stood at 19, and she has won the coveted statue three times.

In a career that has spanned nearly 40 years in film, here is a look at five career-defining performances by Streep.

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1. Joanna Kramer, "Kramer vs. Kramer" (1979)
In 1979, divorce was a taboo subject in the media, even though divorce rates were rising in the United States and the world. The release of "Kramer vs. Kramer" in 1979 helped usher in a sea change regarding how people viewed divorce. The movie, which starred Dustin Hoffman and Streep as parents fighting for the custody of their young son, told the story from both parents' perspectives. Her performance, which included an impassioned plea for custody of her son from the witness stand, earned Streep a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award. The film also took home awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

2. Sophie Zawistowski, "Sophie's Choice" (1982)
Streep’s role as a tortured Polish immigrant who comes to the United States after surviving the Holocaust earned the actress her first Best Actress Oscar. She played the role by exhibiting all of the joy and pathos the character had throughout her life, which included enjoyable romps in the park and losing her young son during World War II. Paired with Kevin Kline and Peter MacNicol, this lover's triangle led to a tragic ending. Wrote a New York Times reviewer of the character and Streep’s performance, “(Author William) Styron's Sophie would seem too oversized and literary a figure to be embodied by any actress, even by an actress of extraordinary resourcefulness and versatility. Meryl Streep has already established herself as a performer of that caliber, but nothing in her earlier work fully anticipates ‘Sophie's Choice.’”

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3. Karen Silkwood, "Silkwood" (1983)
In one of Streep's first biographical roles, the story of an Oklahoma nuclear plant whistleblower who died in a suspicious traffic accident brought more acclaim for Streep, including her third Best Actress Academy Award nomination. Roger Ebert wrote in the Chicago Sun-Times, "It's a little amazing that established movie stars like Streep, [Kurt] Russell, and Cher could disappear so completely into the everyday lives of these characters."

4. Francesca Johnson, "The Bridges of Madison County" (1995)
After going a few years without garnering an Academy Award nomination, Streep delivered another top-notch performance as a woman who has a brief yet heartfelt affair with a photographer in the Iowa farmlands. Co-starring with Clint Eastwood, who also directed the movie, Streep earned her eighth Oscar nomination for Best Actress.

5. Margaret Thatcher, "The Iron Lady" (2011)
Taking on another role about a larger-than-life historical person, Streep's turn as Great Britain's prime minister earned the actress her second Best Actress Academy Award. She adeptly handled the aging Thatcher role with grace, as well as the politician's younger self in flashbacks, and the film highlighted the PM's political career and personal tragedies.

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Meryl Streep has more Academy Award nominations than any other actor or actress. In a career that has spanned nearly 40 years in film, here is a look at five career-defining performances by Streep.
meryl streep, defining, roles
Tuesday, 05 May 2015 07:22 PM
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