I came of age when Meryl Streep was proving herself as the cinema’s greatest actress in picture after picture, and I didn’t get it because I was just too damn young to appreciate her films. I saw her as that woman who made the boring films that people felt forced to see in order to show movie smarts.

Of course, I don’t feel that way anymore, although I’m a bigger fan of Jodie Foster. Foster’s performances always come through in their raw and honest emotions. If I had to describe Meryl Streep’s acting style, the word that comes to mind is…precise.
That precision finds a perfect role as the boss from hell in THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA. Avoiding all the usual dance steps in this often-played part, Streep delivers a performance full of unusual choices – from the hair to the hushed tone of voice – that precisely bring the character (and the film) to life. Her choices are just as left-field perfect as Johnny Depp’s work on PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN.

The performance sets the tone for the entire picture. Her way with the dialogue dictates the tone of the film far more than anything the director contributed. My biggest problem with the film is when the final section focuses too much away from her and treads down its expected path. Her believable uber-bitchiness is sorely missed. There were many points where I expected her to go soft. Streep stays true to the part, yet finds a soft center all the same.

During the summer, a couple of friends came out of DEVIL WEARS PRADA forecasting that Streep would get serious Oscar consideration. I dismissed it at the time, figuring the movie was too frothy. Having seen it, I think this is one of the year’s most original and creative performances. I not only expect a nomination, I hope she trounces Helen Mirren, current front-runner for THE QUEEN.
(Running Streep for Best Actress is a decision of pure studio ego. Anyone who’s seen the picture knows Anne Hathaway is definitely the lead, while Streep is supporting.)


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