Welcome to a new series here on Cinematical where we select an actor or actress and the role we think is their all time best.
Last August, "Meryl Streep" wrote an op-ed piece for The Onion called "Name One Masterpiece Of Cinema That I've Starred In." It was really written by the Onion staff, of course, but they (and Streep) made a good point. For a woman who is very possibly the finest living actor of any sex, she has made very few truly unforgettable films. Her resume doesn't contain anything quite like Rear Window, The Godfather, Chinatown or Pulp Fiction. Case in point: the article brings up Kramer vs. Kramer. "Streep" says "I'd watch it if it were on," but it isn't really a masterpiece. Also, it's more Dustin Hoffman's movie than Streep's movie, and if you look at it that way, it ranks pretty far down on Hoffman's list of classics.
Streep's two best bona-fide classics are without a doubt Woody Allen's Manhattan (1979) and Michael Cimino's The Deer Hunter (1978), but she has only tiny roles in both. Despite Streep's excellence, films like The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981), Sophie's Choice (1982), Silkwood (1983), Out of Africa (1985), Plenty (1985), Ironweed (1987), A Cry in the Dark (1988), Marvin's Room (1996), One True Thing (1998), Music of the Heart (1999) or The Hours (2002) aren't exactly compulsively watchable, nor do they turn up on very many lists of favorite films. You could also eliminate her comedies like She-Devil (1989), Postcards from the Edge (1990) and Death Becomes Her (1992), and her recent string of lightweight hits like The Manchurian Candidate (2004), The Devil Wears Prada (2006) and Mamma Mia! (2008).