It only takes one look at Streep's IMDb profile to realise she hardly works with cinema's biggest and brightest filmmakers. Fantastic Mr Fox in 2009 was the last time she worked with a director who could be described as an "auteur" and given that that was only a voice performance in an animated film (albeit a great voice performance in a great animated film), it probably shouldn't count. Before that it was A Prairie Home Companion for Robert Altman in 2006, but as great as she was in that film that was never going to get awards traction given it's lightness of touch and comedic aspects. In between Altman's final film and this year's The Iron Lady she has worked with Nora Ephron (Julie & Julia), Nancy Meyers (It's Complicated), David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada), cinematographer-turned-director Lajos Koltai (Evening), Gavin Hood (Rendition), Robert Redford (Lions for Lambs), and John Patrick Shanley (Doubt). I can understand wanting to work with all of those, especially Ephron and Redford who have had plenty of success in the past, but maybe that illusive third Oscar would be within greater reach if she worked with a director truly worthy of her talent.
I think it's of little surprise that her work with Spike Jonze on Adaptation, definitely a higher class of filmmaker than she's been used to lately, is one of the few genuine moments I felt non Streeposexuals clamouring to give her an Oscar. She was beaten to the trophy by Catherine Zeta-Jones, but that was probably the moment the tides really turned and people decided Streep needed a third Oscar. Sadly, after that she all but stopped working with directors of Jonze's quality. The last time Streep was even nominated for a Best Picture nominee was way back in 1986 for Out of Africa, which is quite telling. Her performance as a strict nun in Doubt was surely her best best for a third statue, but Kate Winslet's "give her an Oscar, already!" train chugged along faster than Meryl's. A win for playing Julia Child a year later was doomed the moment Sandra Bullock's vehicle, The Blind Side, snapped a surprise Best Picture nomination whilst Julie & Julia did not.
So is it really Oscar's fault that she doesn't have three Oscars? Would any of you seriously give her the Oscar for One True Thing, Music from the Heart, Bridges of Madison County, Evil Angels or Julie & Julia? And even though I thought she was great and definitely nomination-worthy in Silkwood, The Devil Wears Prada, Adaptation, Postcards from the Edge and Doubt, I personally would have placed my vote for somebody else just as the majority of Academy members did (although, I could certainly be persuaded to swap out Penelope Cruz for Meryl Streep in the battle of 2006). It's why I believe the trick to Meryl finally snagging another Oscar for her mantle lies in making a strong, dramatic piece of cinema with a director that commands respect. August: Osage County may be the correct path, but who knows what's going on with that production.
So, I guess this awards season we will be seeing Meryl Streep's name pop up time and time again thanks to lazy critics and awards organisations who want nothing more than to predict Oscar's tastes and have Meryl show up at their awards galas rather than truly honouring the best. As I've said, Streep has some great moments in The Iron Lady, but when compared the work being given by Dunst, Olsen, Swinton, Browning, Wasikowska, Williams, Davis, Gainsbourg, Farmiga, Watson, Deneuve and many others her performance comes off as weak and uninspiring. I long for the day that Streep's name gets bandied about in Oscar discussions for a film that is as great as she almost always tries to be. Until then, this iron lady is little more than a poor imitation.
And just to leave on a fun note...