13. Meryl Streep
The Grand Dame
Which actress was blessed with the highest studio score on this list? It wasn’t Jennifer Lawrence, Sandra Bullock, or Angelina Jolie whom our studio executives gave their highest marks to; instead, it was 64-year-old Meryl Streep. And can you blame them? Simply put, Streep is the closest thing to a guarantee you can get in this business: If she’s the star of a movie, it’s smart, important, and bound to be a quality production. (Or it’s Mamma Mia … but hey, that was a mammoth hit, at least!) But though Streep is often referred to as the world’s greatest actress, she cleverly plays against her reputation with charming acceptance speeches in which she fumbles for her glasses and drops self-deprecating bons mots. It’s no wonder that her likability score is the same as Most Valuable Stars king Robert Downey Jr.
And she’ll need every ounce of that likability for her next role as Violet Weston, the cruel and cancerous matriarch at the center of August: Osage County. The family drama, adapted from the Pulitzer-winning play by Tracy Letts, has Streep tearing into Julia Roberts and her kin with a ferocious meanness; Streep also tears into the scenery, delivering a performance so big that some critics were moved to pan it at the film’s Toronto Film Festival debut. But even so, those same pundits took it as fact that Streep would earn an Oscar nod for the role, so beloved is she by the Academy. And Streep is pretty fun even when she’s being bad, a quality she’ll continue to mine as the Witch in the currently filming Into the Woods, where she’ll get to sing onscreen for the first time since Mamma Mia.
Legendary Actress to Present Program for Public, Campus
LOWELL, Mass. – Meryl Streep, considered by many to be the greatest actress of this generation, will speak at UMass Lowell in the latest installment of the Chancellor’s Speaker Series.Streep, an Academy Award winner whose acting career has spanned five decades and more than 100 roles, will take the stage at the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014. Details on the program and tickets, which will be available to the public as well as the university community, will be announced at a later date.The UMass Lowell Chancellor’s Speaker Series was launched last December with “A Conversation with Stephen King,” which drew a capacity crowd of more than 3,000 people to see the author in a rare personal appearance. As with the King event, Streep’s program will be a benefit for student scholarships. It is co-sponsored by the UMass Lowell English Department’s Theatre Arts Program and the College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.“We are grateful to have someone of MerylStreep’s stature as the next participant in the UMass Lowell Chancellor’s Speaker Series, which brings people at the top of their fields to the university to speak to students and the community while helping to raise funds for scholarships,” said Chancellor Marty Meehan.Since her debut in a 1977 TV movie, Streep – who holds the record for the most Academy Award and Golden Globe Award acting nominations – has established herself as one of the most prolific actresses in history, appearing in more than 50 films, as well as numerous stage productions. One of her trademarks has been portraying real people, from British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in “Iron Lady” to French chef Julia Child in “Julie and Julia” to whistleblower Karen Silkwood in “Silkwood.” She is also known for her perfectionism in preparing for roles, learning to play the violin and mastering countless dialects and accents.Her many other notable movies include “The Deer Hunter” and “Kramer vs. Kramer” in the 1970s, “The French Lieutenant’s Woman” and “Sophie’s Choice” in the 1980s, “Postcards from the Edge” and “The Bridges of Madison County in the 1990s and “Adaptation,” “The Devil Wears Prada” and “Mamma Mia!” in the 2000s.Streep continues to add to her credits, with three new films in production, including the screen adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim musical “Into the Woods,” and a fourth that will be in theaters later this year.Streep has been recognized with acting’s top honors, including three Oscars, eight Golden Globes (also a record), two Emmys, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, a Cannes Film Festival award, two British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) awards and five New York Film Critics Circle Awards. She has also been nominated for a Grammy five times and a Tony Award. She was the youngest actor in history to receive the American Film Institute’s AFI Life Achievement Award and a Kennedy Center Honor. In 2010, President Barack Obama presented her with the National Medal of Arts.
[Warning: This post contains plot spoilers about the upcoming movie “August: Osage County.” While we don’t think they’ll ruin the experience, you might be mad anyway. Please read at your own risk.]
TORONTO — If you saw Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer Prize-winning black comedy “August: Osage County” on the stage in any of the numerous cities it played a few years back, chances are you were struck by one scene above all else. The final one, that is, in which matriarch Violet Weston is seen sitting on the stairs of the house she once ruled, abandoned by her adult daughters, especially eldest daughter Barbara, who don’t/can’t/won’t stay and take care of a woman who, let’s face it, has made her and her sisters’ lives pretty miserable.
For those who saw the John Wells-directed (and Letts-scripted) movie at the Toronto International Film Festival this week, a different ending awaited.Violet, played by Meryl Streep, is indeed shown toward the end of the action in the house she once ruled, calling for the Native American nurse who serves as the sort of eyes and ears of the audience. But the film doesn’t end with the play’s iconic image of Violet on the stairs. Instead, in the following scene, Barbara, played by Julia Roberts, can be seen driving away, conveying in a rather different way she’s leaving her mother and shifting the focus to the younger character.
It’s impossible not to notice the difference, and filmgoers exiting the premiere were buzzing/arguing/complaining about the movie’s final scene.
But here’s the thing: It might not be the movie’s final scene.
Wells and Letts are still in a push-pull with producers and Weinstein Co. executives over whether the movie should end in the current manner, as many in the latter camp want, or with a shot of Violet in the manner of the play, as Letts and Wells have long learned toward.
In fact, in his first cut Wells left the ending as it was on the stage — with the shot of Violet on the stairs. But when the film was screened for early audiences they didn’t approve.
“We tested it over and over again and people rebelled in the theater,” Wells said in an interview Tuesday. “They were terrified about what happened to Barbara.”
Keeping it the way it was in the play, he said, was just too alienating to the people the film needed to appeal to.
“They felt like we were hitting them on the head with a hammer. I heard it over and over again — to the point that it was ‘Let’s see what happens if we put Violet on the steps and then cut to Barbara.”
That went over better, with audiences now saying they had more closure with the daughter character. And so, in went the final ending for Toronto.
But that result — though blessed by Weinstein — isn’t something Wells is convinced of. And he may yet triumph in his bid to revert to the other ending.
“I’m not sure I’m OK with doing it that way,” he said. “I don’t want to say there’s anything wrong with the current ending, because there isn’t. But it’s something we’re still talking about. We don’t open for three months, and it’s possible you’ll see something different.”
A Weinstein Co. spokesman was not immediately available for comment.
In an interview alongside Wells, Letts agreed but struck a somewhat more ambivalent note. He said he felt there was something stark and powerful about ending with Violet on the stairs — that’s how he wrote it for the stage, after all — but he also said that closing with a Barbara drive scene was OK if it clarified the matter for viewers.
“A little ambiguity is not a bad thing,” he said. “But we don’t want audience confusion, where it’s suddenly ‘I don’t know where the ball is.’ So this is what we’re trying to figure out.”
Why audiences were OK with a Violet-centric ending on the stage but not the screen remains an open question. Letts wryly suggested that it’s because the play didn’t afford the option; he couldn’t very well show Barbara offstage in a prop car that she pretend-drove.
Whatever the reason, there’s more at stake than just the plot point, though the idea of focusing on Barbara’s leaving instead of Violet’s solitude has some implications in its own right. There’s something of a fundamental question about the ending: How much freedom should creators have in adapting a work as they see fit. It’s a question that transcends this piece and, indeed, stage-to-screen adaptations generally. Should those putting a new spin on a popular entertainment brand be given wide latitude to make the choices they want to make? It’s been a question turning up a lot lately, from the Ben Affleck’s Batman casting to – why not? – Miley Cyrus twerking her image.
The “August” ending also raises a curious wrinkle in the world of filmmaking. As Wells noted, not that long ago, when film was still presented on film, once a cut was locked it was locked. It cost a hundred or two hundred grand to change it, which allowed little last-minute dithering over an ending. But like so many other things that have gone digital, from Web journalism to cable news coverage, a finished story is never really finished
At the close of the “August: Osage County” movie, Meryl Streep is, symbolically speaking, standing alone. Does Julia drive? The Weinsteins and its director are, for all the film-festival chatter, still hashing it out.
After much viewing – and much laughing – we’ve put together our list of the Top 10 Funniest Actresses of the Past 10 Years, celebrating the women of movies and television who keep us smiling through it all. Check and see if your favorite made the list.
What becomes an acting legend most? Apparently comedy, as Streep – she of the serious, heartbreaking turns in movies like Sophie’s Choice, Out of Africa, The Hours, and more – has started to show off her funny side more and more. Adaptation saw her getting giddily stoned, The Devil Wears Prada showed her as a hilariously sly ice queen, and Mamma Mia! allowed her to sing, throw zingers, and showcase her physical comedy. And don’t miss the three episodes of Web Therapy where she upstaged co-star Lisa Kudrow as a wacky orientation-conversion therapist.
Just a decade ago, as an actress aged her fate was sealed – planned obsolescence meant young faces were rolled out to dethrone the red carpet’s older reigning A-list.
But as the median age of movegoers increases, it seems Hollywood’s actresses are aging with them – and they are getting better parts, and better pay, out of it.
From Cameron Diaz to Sandra Bullock, and Nicole Kidman to Melissa McCarthy, top film actresses in their 40s now out-earn their 30-year-old counterparts.Staying power: As the age of movegoers increases, it seems Hollywood’s actresses are aging with them – and they are getting better parts, and better pay, out of it; Meryl Streep, 63, pictured in “The Devil Wears Prada”
‘There’s a change afoot,’ Sean Bailey, head of production at Disney live-action films, told The Hollywood Reporter. ‘Part of that is attributable to changing audience trends. Women and a broader array of age groups are starting to matter more and more.
‘A lot of these big movies are no longer solely dependent on young men showing up. When you take that in combination with the number of phenomenal actresses in this age range, it adds up to something exciting.’
Where middle-aged actresses once had to pick up supporting roles scraps – with the exception of Meryl Streep, Helen Mirren and Diane Keaton – they are now taking center stage, dominating big Hollywood’s biggest parts.
And a recent Performer Q Study, which measures how well-known and how well-liked a celebrity is, found that Ms Bullock, Ms Roberts, and Ms Streep took the top three film actress spots among U.S. survey respondents over 18.
And television might be playing an important role, too.
Glenn Close, 66, appeared on The Shield and then Damages; Helena Bonham Carter, 47, will play Elizabeth Taylor in an upcoming BBC movie about the movie star’s relationship with Richard Burton; and Ms Roberts is just taking on her first major TV role as a wheelchair-bound physician in HBO’s The Normal Heart.
Style icons for women in their 60s
- Dame Helen Mirren
- Dame Judi Dench
- Joanna Lumley
- Meryl Streep
- Jane Seymour
- Camilla – Duchess of Cornwall
- Sharon Osbourne
- Sigourney Weaver
Director: Phyllida Lloyd
Screenwriter: Abi Morgan
Producer: Damian Jones
Director of Photography: Elliot Davis
Main Cast: Meryl Streep (Margaret Thatcher), Jim Broadbent (Denis Thatcher)
The nominees were revealed on December 1st, 2012. The winners of the “3rd Edition of the International Online Film Critics’ Poll” will be announced on December announced on December 20, 2012.
During the 3rd edition were eligible all the films (in english-language or foreign language), released in the U.S.A. from November 16, 2010 to November 15, 2012.
Best Actress in a Leading Role
- Elizabeth Holsen – Martha Marcy May Marlene
- Natalie Portman – Black Swan
- Meryl Streep – The Iron Lady
- Tilda Swinton – We Need to Talk About Kevin
- Quvenzhané Wallis – Beasts of the Southern Wild
You can submit your votes for the 2013 People’s Choice Awards! If you’re gonna vote for Meryl, she is in three categories: Favorite Dramatic Movie Actress, Favorite On-Screen Chemistry (with Tommy Lee) and Favorite Movie Icon. (But you can add her by choosing Other and typing her name) “Hope Springs” is in the Favorite Comedic Movie‘s category. You can vote here (Browse Vote from the menu and then scroll down the page to choose the categories).