Vulture: 100 most valuable stars of 2013

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.

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