Sunday, July 17, 2011

blahblahblah Goes To Acting School: Meryl Streep Was She Robbed or Is She Marissa Tomei?

This months LAMB acting school takes a look at the career of Meryl Streep. Unlike last months piece on Willem Dafoe I'm pretty sure that the outcome is not going to be "is a bit creepy."

I wouldn't say I'm much of a Streep fan to be honest and I don't think I've seen half of her 68 film credits (as per imdb) but I just read that she has been nominated for an Academy award 16 times, which is astonishing, but only won twice.

It's hard to be taken seriously as a female actor in Hollywood, this much I think we can all agree on. The paucity of quality roles written for women means that you pretty much have to be a woman in a lead role in a serious movie and you'll get an Oscar nomination. Even taking that fact in to account, for Meryl Streep to be nominated 16 times is still great going. Not many people put in performance after performance of a high calibre. Some people even say that she's the greatest living and working female actor.

So let's just assume she is, for the sake of this article, and assess why she didn't win a clean sweep of the Oscars. Was she robbed or has she mainly been Marissa Tomei?

1979 Best Supporting Actress The Deer Hunter
Lost to Maggie Smith in Neil Simon's California Suite
Neil Simon movies were a big deal but this one didn't really win any awards apart from for Maggie Smith's performance as Diana Barrie which also won the Golden Globe and the BAFTA. The Deer Hunter being the movie that won best picture and best direction that year also provided acting nominations for De Niro and Walken. People loved Streep's performance and there's no doubt that it is one that has survived in the minds of movie viewers longer than the other nominees so without having seen Maggie Smith in California Suite I call robbed!

In 1980 she won for Kramer vs Kramer, a movie that won 4 out of the 6 major awards and even managed to get an 8 year old boy an Oscar nomination.

1982 Best Actress The French Lieutenant's Woman
Lost to Katharine Hepburn who won her final Oscar, 48 years after her first one, in On Golden Pond
How can I possibly say she was robbed this time? It was Katharine Hepburn! Not some fly by night youngster putting in a one-off performance in a supposedly important film. Also this was the only major nomination for French Lieutenant's Woman and was obviously one of those filler nominations I mentioned before. Marissa Tomei

1983 was the second and last (so far) win for Ms Streep as she starred in Sophie's Choice, flying in the face of my previous statement, hers was the only major nomination for this film about holocaust survivors.

1984 Best Actress Silkwood
Lost to Shirley MacLaine in Terms of Endearment
Terms of Endearment was one of those rare movies made for women to let them cry and laugh about being women. That's the impression I get, kind of Beaches but with quality. Silkwood was the Erin Brokovich of it's day and we all remember what happened to Julia Roberts career after that movie, we have to live with it every day. Shirley Maclaine had previously been nominated without a win 5 times so clearly this was politics and Meryl Streep was robbed!

1986 Best Actress Out of Africa
Lost to 8th time lucky Geraldine Page in The Trip to the Bountiful
This seems like one of those American films that is really only meant for Americans winning an Oscar for an old actress just before their death to me. Out of Africa was the big picture winner this year and whilst Robert Redford didn't even get nominated for his role Streep more than deserved it. Robbed, yet again.

1988 Best Actress Ironweed
Lost to Cher of all people in Moonstruck
OK so I think I'd be the first person to raise their hand and say "hey I've never heard of this Ironweed movie" even so the fact that they gave Cher an Oscar amazes me. Meryl Streep was definitely robbed.

1989 Best Actress Evil Angels/A Cry In The Dark
Lost to Jodie Foster in The Accused
I'm pretty certain this is the movie where Jodie Foster gets raped on a pinball machine. In a case that shares the sentiments behind slutwalk - a woman does not deserve to get raped because she acts provocatively. But for me that's no match for Meryl Streep crying out that "a dingo, a dingo stole her baby," in the dramatic true story of blahblahblah in Evil Angels. Robbed.

1991 Best Actress Postcards From The Edge
Lost to the incredible Kathy Bates in Misery
This was a Terms of Endearment type role for Streep, a role that shouldn't have had a nomination and was never going to win, it was a semi-comedic performance about mothers and daughters versus a multi-layered nutcase. But then Julia Roberts was nominated for being a hooker so anything goes. Marissa Tomei

1996 Best Actress The Bridges of Madison County
Lost to Susan Sarandon in Dead Man Walking
I'm not saying it wasn't deserved but Dead Man Walking was a very dull movie. I remember watching it on VHS and wondering what the fuss was about. Bridges of Madison County on the other hand just sounds dull. I can't really judge here apart from go on record and say Emma Thompson should have won for Sense and Sensibility cos she's just so lovely. Marissa Tomei

1999 Best Actress One True Thing
Lost to Weepy McPaltrow in Shakespeare in Love
If ever there was a case of Marissa Tomei it is this one. Sure it sounds like one of those important movies with a role for a strong female actor but jeez it sounds dull too. In the year when Cate Blanchett was robbed for her performance in Elizabeth I'd be surprised if this nominee got a vote. Marissa Tomei.

2000 Best Actress Music of the Heart
Lost to Hilary Swank in Boys Don't Cry
Wow this one sounds awful, directed by Wes Craven and c0-starring Gloria Estefan! For me that's enough to Marissa Tomei this movie but you can also add the "important movie about real life struggle" tag to it to make doubly sure. Boys Don't Cry was a worthy winner for sure, Hillary Swank was very good and even my hardened heart enjoyed the film for what it was BUT Annette Benning deserved in more for being in the film I enjoyed the most. Marissa Tomei

2003 Best Supporting Actress Adaptation.
Lost to Catherine Zeta-Jones in Chicago
Ummmmmmmmm. Even taking our biased Meryl Streep glasses off here there's no way in hell that she should have lost to Catherine Zeta-Jones. Julianne Moore in The Hours perhaps but not the absurd CZJ. I've narrowed it down to a few possibilities: The Academy were surprised that she could actually act at all, the power of the Douglas dynasty bought the vote for her or Adaptation being a Charlie Kaufman script was just too weird for anyone to vote for. Robbed!

2007 Best Actress The Devil Wears Prada
Lost to Helen Mirren in The Queen
Well nobody was going to beat The Queen in 2007 and especially not some fluffy chicklit movie. Helen Mirren can't have been pushed close by a movie that had Adrien Grenier in it. Marissa Tomei

2009 Best Actress Doubt
Lost to Kate Winslet in The Reader
She had to win one eventually. Another long term loser finally getting an Oscar for what was probably not their best performance. Whereas Meryl Streep was superb in a movie filled with superb performances. This screams robbed to me.

2010 Best Actress Julie & Julia
Lost to Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side
21 years after her first Oscar nomination and still going strong, losing to Sandra Bullock in this "important" movie must've hurt though. I thought Julie & Julia was a lovely movie, thoroughly enjoyable but Meryl Streep as Julia Childs was the standout performance of the year without a shadow of a doubt. I'm a fan of Sandra Bullock and she deserves more serious roles but this was an unjustified Oscar win for her. Robbed!

Final Score: Robbed 8 vs Marissa Tomei 6

Looks like she's largely been overlooked for her talents by The Academy but perhaps it is punishment for all those times she's received unwarranted nominations. Sure judging an actors talent based on the preference of a bunch of old rich white men isn't exactly accurate but I had some fun writing this anyway. I haven't been a fan until recently but researching this article I think I've found a whole new respect for somebody who has been a hugely talented female actor and continues to grow in her craft. She can play funny, she can play it straight, for a while her speciality seemed to be wronged women in real life stories that probably should've just been TV movies and recently she was seen in bed with Alec Baldwin and (apart from Steve Martin) made an enjoyable film about older people finding love.

Coming soon as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, in which she will most undoubtedly be truly remarkable and then opposite Tommy Lee Jones in an old married couple drama, Great Hope Springs, of which I know little apart from Steve Carrell is also on board. There's clearly a lot left of Meryl Streep's career for us to enjoy.

agree? disagree? totally blahzay on the matter? leave me some blah below why don't you.


  1. Who's Meryl Streep? Never heard of her. Obviously, she's not recognized by the Oscar Academy.

    Great write up Toby ;D

  2. cheers duke, was a week in the making, if i'd thought it would be such a huge task i wouldve come up with a different article.

  3. she was definitely robbed by Bullock, since Meryl's Julia Child is a legendary master piece in acting. But Kate Winslet did deserve an Oscar for THE READER since both her performance and the film itself was by far above anything else that year in depth and refined message.

    Meryl should have her own category at the Oscars every year if you ask me!

  4. hey dezmond, thanks for stopping by. it was a slightly tongue in cheek article, i can't actually say if winslet was good as i didnt get around to seeing the reader yet! she certainly has deserved an oscar in the past though.

  5. Okay, looks like your version of this is definitely different from mine. I never would've tried to make an argument in which Meryl Streep wins ten Oscars. :-p

  6. rich - good to see you here, i really tried hard to find reasons for her to win all of them but there some arguments you just can't make.

  7. Brilliant post! I think she will pick up her long awaited third Oscar for her role as Margaret Thatcher in 'The Iron Lady'.

  8. thank you caz. it was a lot of fun to write. took forever though. i'm really looking forward to iron lady, solely for the performance of streep.