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Meryl Streep Best Actress Oscar: When Margaret Thatcher Stares Back

Meryl Streep Best Actress Oscar winner The Golden Lady golden little manMeryl Streep Best Actress Oscar winner: The Golden Lady and her golden little man.

Meryl Streep Best Actress Oscar: Dressed to Win

Best Actress Academy Award winner Meryl Streep, whose golden dress and earrings match – or rather, outshine – her golden Oscar statuette, poses backstage at the 84th Academy Awards held on Feb. 26, '12, at the former Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland in Los Angeles. Last year's Best Actor winner, Colin Firth (The King's Speech), handed Streep the award for her performance as right-wing British prime minister Margaret Thatcher in Phyllida Lloyd's biopic The Iron Lady, co-starring Jim Broadbent as Thatcher's husband.

That was Streep's 17th Oscar nomination and her third win – second in the Best Actress category. Her previous two Oscar triumphs were the following:

  • Best Supporting Actress as a divorcée who leaves her family and later decides to fight for the custody of her son in Robert Benton's Kramer vs. Kramer (1979).
    Cast: Dustin Hoffman. Jane Alexander. Justin Henry.
  • Best Actress as a Nazi concentration camp survivor in Alan J. Pakula's Sophie's Choice (1982).
    Cast: Kevin Kline. Peter MacNicol.

Meryl Streep's Best Actress Oscar 2012 competitors were the following:

  • SAG Award winner Viola Davis for Tate Taylor's The Help.
  • Michelle Williams (as Marilyn Monroe) for Simon Curtis' My Week with Marilyn.
  • Rooney Mara for David Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
  • Six-time Oscar nominee Glenn Close for Rodrigo García's Albert Nobbs.

Meryl Streep Oscar nominations

Below is the list of Meryl Streep's previous Oscar nominations (not including her two wins listed above); unless otherwise noted, all were in the Best Actress category.*

  • Best Supporting Actress for Michael Cimino's The Deer Hunter (1978).
    Cast: Robert De Niro. Christopher Walken.
  • Karel Reisz's The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981).
    Cast: Jeremy Irons.
  • Mike Nichols' Silkwood (1983).
    Cast: Kurt Russell. Cher.
  • Sydney Pollack's Out of Africa (1985).
    Cast: Robert Redford. Klaus Maria Brandauer.
  • Hector Babenco's Ironweed (1987).
    Cast: Jack Nicholson. (Glenn Close was also a nominee, for Adrian Lyne's Fatal Attraction.)
  • Fred Schepisi's A Cry in the Dark (1988).
    Cast: Sam Neill. (Glenn Close was also a nominee, for Stephen Frears' Dangerous Liaisons.)
  • Mike Nichols' Postcards from the Edge (1990), as a fictionalized version of Carrie Fisher (Star Wars' Princess Leia).
    Cast: Shirley MacLaine (as a fictionalized version of Singin' in the Rain actress Debbie Reynolds). Dennis Quaid. Gene Hackman. Richard Dreyfuss. Annette Bening. Rob Reiner. Mary Wickes.
  • Clint Eastwood's The Bridges of Madison County (1995).
    Cast: Clint Eastwood.
  • Carl Franklin's One True Thing (1998).
    Cast: Renée Zellweger. William Hurt. Tom Everett Scott.
  • Wes Craven's Music of the Heart (1999).
    Cast: Cloris Leachman. Aidan Quinn. Angela Bassett. Gloria Estefan. Charlie Hofheimer. Kieran Culkin. Jay O. Sanders. Michael Angarano.
  • Best Supporting Actress for Spike Jonze's Adaptation (2002).
    Cast: Nicolas Cage. Chris Cooper. Tilda Swinton.
  • David Frankel's The Devil Wears Prada (2006), as a fictionalized version of Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour.
    Cast: Anne Hathaway (as a fictionalized version of Wintour's former assistant Lauren Weisberger). Emily Blunt. Stanley Tucci. Simon Baker. Adrian Grenier.
  • John Patrick Shanley's Doubt (2008).
    Cast: Amy Adams. Philip Seymour Hoffman. Viola Davis.
  • Nora Ephron's Julie & Julia (2009), as chef Julia Child.
    Cast: Amy Adams.
  • John Wells' August: Osage County (2013).
    Cast: Julia Roberts. Chris Cooper. Ewan McGregor. Dermot Mulroney. Sam Shepard. Margo Martindale. Abigail Breslin. Juliette Lewis. Benedict Cumberbatch.
  • Best Supporting Actress for Rob Marshall's Into the Woods (2014).
    Cast: Anna Kendrick. Chris Pine. Johnny Depp. Emily Blunt. Tracey Ullman. Lucy Punch.

* List of Meryl Streep Oscar nominations updated in April 2016.

Meryl Streep Oscar Red Carpet Ready for victoryMeryl Streep on Oscar Red Carpet: Ready for victory with golden dress.

Meryl Streep movies

In the last (almost) four decades, Meryl Streep has been featured in nearly 60 motion pictures. Shockingly, that means the American cinema's grand dame has actually not been shortlisted for an Oscar numerous times.

Examples of movies for which she could have been nominated (i.e., no other Streep nomination in that particular acting category that year) – but wasn't – include (unless otherwise noted, as Best Actress):

  • Falling in Love (1984).
    Dir.: Ulu Grosbard.
    Cast: Robert De Niro. Meryl Streep. Harvey Keitel. Jane Kaczmarek.
  • Heartburn (1986).
    Dir.: Mike Nichols.
    Cast: Jack Nicholson. Meryl Streep. Jeff Daniels. Maureen Stapleton. Stockard Channing.
  • She-Devil (1989).
    Dir.: Susan Seidelman.
    Cast: Meryl Streep. Roseanne Barr. Ed Begley Jr. Linda Hunt. Sylvia Miles.
  • Death Becomes Her (1992).
    Dir.: Robert Zemeckis.
    Cast: Meryl Streep. Goldie Hawn. Bruce Willis. Isabella Rossellini. Adam Storke.
  • The River Wild (1994).
    Dir.: Curtis Hanson.
    Cast: Meryl Streep. Kevin Bacon. David Strathairn. Joseph Mazzello. Benjamin Bratt. John C. Reilly.
  • Marvin's Room (1996).
    Dir.: Jerry Zaks.
    Cast: Meryl Streep. Diane Keaton. Leonardo DiCaprio. Hume Cronyn. Gwen Verdon. Robert De Niro.
  • The Hours (2002). That year, Streep was shortlisted as Best Supporting Actress for Adaptation.
    Dir.: Stephen Daldry.
    Cast: Meryl Streep. Nicole Kidman. Julianne Moore. Ed Harris. Toni Collette. Jeff Daniels.
  • The Manchurian Candidate (2004), as Best Supporting Actress.
    Dir.: Jonathan Demme.
    Cast: Denzel Washington. Liev Schreiber. Meryl Streep. Bruno Ganz. Jon Voight.
  • Lions for Lambs (2007), either as Best Actress or Best Supporting Actress.
    Dir.: Robert Redford.
    Cast: Tom Cruise. Robert Redford. Meryl Streep. Andrew Garfield. Michael Peña. Peter Berg.
  • Hope Springs (2012).
    Dir.: David Frankel.
    Cast: Meryl Streep. Tommy Lee Jones. Steve Carell. Jean Smart. Ben Rappaport.
  • Ricki and the Flash (2015).
    Dir.: Jonathan Demme.
    Cast: Meryl Streep. Rick Springfield. Kevin Kline. Sebastian Stan.

Partial list of Meryl Streep movies updated in April 2016.

Her next film, Stephen Frears' Florence Foster Jenkins, will quite possibly earn Streep her 20th Academy Award nod.

Meryl Streep Oscar Q&A: Faulty Academy Award history knowledge

Below are a few excerpts from the Meryl Streep q&a held in the press room during the 2012 Oscar ceremony.

Besides revealing that she doesn't speak Spanish, Streep also (implicitly) revealed that she doesn't know all that much about Oscar history – perhaps much too busy being an active part of it.

Referring to her comment on the Academy Awards' stage that her Best Actress win for The Iron Lady would be her last time up there, a journalist asked Streep whether she didn't “want to give Katharine Hepburn a run for her money.”

Streep's reply: “Did she have more?”

Katharine Hepburn is the only performer to have won four Academy Awards, all in the Best Actress category.

Meryl Streep kissed by Colin Firth Best Actor winnerMeryl Streep kissed by Colin Firth: Last year's Best Actor winner for 'The King's Speech.'

Meryl thrill: Human-making make-up

Regarding her third Oscar win, Meryl Streep declared:

Oh, I was thrilled. I thought I was so old and jaded, but they call your name, and you just go into sort of a, I don't know, a white light. And it was just thrilling. It was like I was a kid again. I mean, it was – I was a kid when I won this, like, 30 years ago. Two of the nominees [sic; actually just one: Rooney Mara] were not even conceived. So, you know, it was great.

She added that it was “doubly wonderful” because her “long time collaborative colleague” J. Roy Helland also took home an Oscar – shared with Mark Coulier – for their work on The Iron Lady. “But he won not for some, you know, monster-making, but for making a human being, and it's very unusual in that branch that they give it to somebody who's just trying to transform people.”

As an aside, in the last decade (2002-2011), including The Iron Lady, there have been five Best Make-Up winners – in other words, half of the total – that were singled out for “making a human being.” The other four films in question: Frida (2002), Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004), La Vie en Rose (2007), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008).

Not meeting Margaret Thatcher

When asked whether she had met Margaret Thatcher while doing research for the role, Streep replied:

No, I haven't. Really, she has retired from public life almost entirely now in the last two years. So, no, I didn't. But I studied her, and I studied, you know, there's so much archival footage. And then the challenge was to imagine her present life, and that was completely an active imagination on – Abi Morgan, the writer's part, and my part, but there was a lot of freedom in that, but also responsibility to a real person and to history.

So, it was – it was really very, very satisfying as an actor, as an artist, to make a film that starts out about Margaret Thatcher and ends up being really about all of us. So, that's all I'll say about that.

Regarding her three Oscar wins, “what was it like the first time around and the second time around and is this better in some way?”

I read a poem yesterday, and it had nothing to do with this but it said, one of the lines jumped out and it said, “It's as strange to be here once as it is to return.”* So, that's true. It is strange, the whole thing is strange. I mean, if you're a human being, it's weird. If you are not, I don't know. Probably fun.

* From Don Paterson's Rain: Poems.

Meryl Streep three-time Oscar Margaret Thatcher The Iron LadyMeryl Streep three-time Oscar winner: Margaret Thatcher in 'The Iron Lady.' (Colin Firth on the right.)

The Women's Museum

In addition to briefly discussing “Streep fatigue” and how “it shocked me that it didn't override this tonight,” and mentioning journalist Tina Brown's three-day summit Women in the World in New York City, Meryl Streep talked about the National Women's History Museum.

There is no national women's history museum [the NWHM was founded in 1996, but it doesn't have a permanent site], but there is a lot of history that is not written about the contributions of women in our country and around the world. And I think it would be really, really inspiring for people all around the world to have this fantastic center where you can learn the stuff that hasn't been written about women, because for many, many centuries, history was not interested in us.

… And our history is invisible and I think it would be great for boys and girls to go to a place where they could learn about the contributions of their foremothers as well as their forefathers.

Through the looking glass: When Margaret Thatcher stares back at you

And finally, when asked to described “that moment when you first looked in the mirror and saw the face of Margaret Thatcher looking back at you,” Meryl Streep explained:

Well, by the time we had achieved the right amount of less, and less, and less, I had become acclimated to not looking at Margaret Thatcher in the mirror – and thought it was me, and that was important to me that I wasn't looking at rubber, that I was looking at me. … I'd already sort of morphed in a way, in my head and in my heart, with her, and her concerns and her interests – her zeal, her mission, her sense of rightness, and all of that.

Streep then recalled that “when we first had the old age make-up on, I saw my dad.” That may sound like something out of a movie, but Streep swears “I looked so much like my dad. Maybe my dad looked like Margaret Thatcher, I don't know. So, is that the end?”

That's the end.

Until Meryl Streep's next Oscar win, that is.

More Meryl Streep articles

Below are links to a few more Meryl Streep posts at Alt Film Guide.

  • Image of Meryl Streep & husband Don Gummer + Tom Cruise & J. Roy Helland.
  • Meryl Streep Oscar ad controversy.
  • Meryl Streep Breaks Oscar Record (Again).
  • Meryl Streep Breaks New York Film Critics Awards' Record.
  • Image of Meryl Streep at the 2012 SAG Awards.

Meryl Streep Octavia Spencer
Octavia Spencer, Meryl Streep

Octavia Spencer – quite literally – joins Meryl Streep at 2012 post-Oscar ceremony Governors Ball held at Hollywood and Highland Center in Hollywood, CA, Sunday, February 26. Spencer was the Best Supporting Actress winner for her performance in Tate Taylor's socially conscious comedy-drama The Help. Streep was the Best Actress winner for her performance as former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher in Phyllida Lloyd's The Iron Lady. (Image: Darren Decker / © A.M.P.A.S.)

Octavia Spencer was a first-time nominee. Her Best Supporting Actress competition consisted of fellow first-time nominees Jessica Chastain for The Help, Bérénice Bejo for Michel Hazanavicius' The Artist, and Melissa McCarthy for Paul Feig's Bridesmaids, in addition to two-time nominee Janet McTeer for Rodrigo García's Albert Nobbs. McTeer had been previously shortlisted in the Best Actress category for Gavin O'Connor's Tumbleweeds (1999).

Meryl Streep's competitors in the Best Actress category were Viola Davis for The Help, Michelle Williams (as Marilyn Monroe) for Simon Curtis' My Week with Marilyn, Rooney Mara (in Noomi Rapace's original role) for David Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Glenn Close as a 19th-century Irishwoman passing for a (strange-looking) man in Albert Nobbs.

Streep has been nominated for a record 17 Academy Awards in the acting categories. Her previous nominations were: as Best Supporting Actress for Michael Cimino's Vietnam War drama The Deer Hunter (1978), starring Robert De Niro; and as Best Actress for Karel Reisz's The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981), with Jeremy Irons; Mike Nichols' Silkwood (1983), with Kurt Russell and Cher; Sydney Pollack's Out of Africa (1985), co-starring Robert Redford; Hector Babenco's Ironweed (1987), with Jack Nicholson; and Fred Schepisi's A Cry in the Dark (1988), as a real-life Australian woman accused of killing her baby; Sam Neill played her husband.

Also, Nichols' Postcards from the Edge (1990), in which Streep plays a fictionalized version of Star Wars' Carrie Fisher, with Shirley MacLaine as a fictionalized version of Singin' in the Rain's Debbie Reynolds; Clint Eastwood's The Bridges of Madison County (1995), in which her Italian character has an affair with Eastwood; Carl Franklin's One True Thing (1998), playing a middle-aged woman suffering from cancer opposite Renée Zellweger, William Hurt, and Tom Everett Scott; Wes Craven's Music of the Heart (1999), as music teacher Roberta Guaspari.

And in the 21st century, as Best Supporting Actress for (sort of) playing author Susan Orlean in Spike Jonze's comedy Adaptation (2002), co-starring Nicolas Cage, Chris Cooper, and Tilda Swinton; and as Best Actress for David Frankel's The Devil Wears Prada (2006), in which she plays a fictionalized version of Vogue's Anna Wintour opposite Anne Hathaway's fictionalized version of Wintour's former assistant Lauren Weisberger; John Patrick Shanley's Doubt (2008), as a self-righteous nun after Philip Seymour Hoffman's priest, and playing opposite Amy Adams and Viola Davis; and as Julia Child in Julie & Julia, co-starring Amy Adams.

Streep's previous two Oscars were as Best Supporting Actress for Robert Benton's Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), featuring Dustin Hoffman, Jane Alexander, and Justin Henry, and as Best Actress for her Nazi concentration-camp survivor in Alan J. Pakula's Sophie's Choice (1982), with Kevin Kline and Peter MacNicol.

Besides Streep, only three other performers have won three Academy Awards: Walter Brennan as Best Supporting Actor for Howard Hawks and William Wyler's Come and Get It (1936), David Butler's Kentucky (1938), and Wyler's The Westerner; Ingrid Bergman as Best Actress for George Cukor's Gaslight (1944) and Anatole Litvak's Anastasia (1956), and as Best Supporting Actress for Sidney Lumet's Murder on the Orient Express (1974); and Jack Nicholson, Streep's co-star in Mike Nichols' Heartburn (1986) and the aforementioned Ironweed, as Best Actor for Milos Forman's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) and James L. Brooks' As Good as It Gets (1997), and as Best Supporting Actor for Brooks' Terms of Endearment (1983).

Katharine Hepburn is the only performer to have won four Oscars, all in the Best Actress category: for Lowell Sherman's Morning Glory (for the period 1932-33); Stanley Kramer's Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967); Anthony Harvey's The Lion in Winter (1968), tied with Barbra Streisand for William Wyler's Funny Girl; and Mark Rydell's On Golden Pond (1981).

Meryl Streep Sandra Bullock George Clooney Owen Wilson
Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep ended up beating Viola Davis at the 2012 Academy Awards this past Sunday. In the above photo, Streep is seen on her way to picking up her third Oscar statuette. In the background, Sandra Bullock can be seen applauding enthusiastically, while George Clooney admires Streep's dress and Owen Wilson holds his trousers up. (Image: Darren Decker / © A.M.P.A.S.)

Two days after her Oscar victory, it was announced that Streep had donated $10,000 on behalf of Viola Davis to a charter school in the Rhode Island town of Central Falls, Davis' hometown. The school is reportedly attempting to raise money to buy the building where it's located or move to another site.

Some have taken to the Internet to complain that Streep's donation represents a minuscule percentage of her earnings. Never mind the fact that Streep has donated (much more?) money to other causes as well – but that those go unreported.

Meryl Streep and Viola Davis played opposite one another in John Patrick Shanley's 2008 drama Doubt. Streep was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar and won a SAG Award, while Davis was nominated as Best Supporting Actress by both the Academy and the Screen Actors Guild.

This year, for incarnating Margaret Thatcher in Phyllida Lloyd's The Iron Lady Streep won her third Best Actress Oscar. Davis was her competitor for Tate Taylor's The Help. Sunday evening's other Best Actress losers were Michelle Williams (as Marilyn Monroe) for Simon Curtis' My Week with Marilyn, Rooney Mara for David Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Glenn Close for Rodrigo García's Albert Nobbs.

Streep has been nominated for a record 17 Academy Awards in the acting categories. Her previous nominations were: as Best Supporting Actress for Michael Cimino's The Deer Hunter (1978), starring Robert De Niro; and as Best Actress for Karel Reisz's The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981), with Jeremy Irons; Mike Nichols' Silkwood (1983), with Kurt Russell and Cher; Sydney Pollack's Out of Africa (1985), co-starring Robert Redford and Klaus Maria Brandauer; Hector Babenco's Ironweed (1987), with Jack Nicholson; and Fred Schepisi's A Cry in the Dark (1988), with Sam Neill.

Also, Nichols' Postcards from the Edge (1990), in which Streep plays a fictionalized version of Star Wars' Carrie Fisher and Shirley MacLaine is a fictionalized version of Singin' in the Rain's Debbie Reynolds; Clint Eastwood's The Bridges of Madison County (1995), co-starring Eastwood; Carl Franklin's One True Thing (1998), opposite Renée Zellweger, William Hurt, and Tom Everett Scott; Wes Craven's Music of the Heart (1999), as music teacher Roberta Guaspari.

And in the 21st century, as Best Supporting Actress for (sort of) playing author Susan Orlean in Spike Jonze's comedy Adaptation (2002), with Nicolas Cage, Chris Cooper, and Tilda Swinton; and as Best Actress for David Frankel's The Devil Wears Prada (2006), in which she plays a fictionalized version of Vogue's Anna Wintour opposite Anne Hathaway's fictionalized version of Wintour's former assistant Lauren Weisberger; John Patrick Shanley's Doubt (2008), with Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, and Viola Davis; and as Julia Child in Julie & Julia, co-starring Amy Adams.

Streep's previous two Oscars were as Best Supporting Actress for Robert Benton's Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), featuring Dustin Hoffman, Jane Alexander, and Justin Henry, and as Best Actress for her Nazi concentration-camp survivor in Alan J. Pakula's Sophie's Choice (1982), with Kevin Kline and Peter MacNicol.

Meryl Streep Oscar winner
Meryl Streep Oscar winner

Meryl Streep became a three-time Academy Award winner after getting this year's Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in Phyllida Lloyd's The Iron Lady. In the above photo, Streep poses backstage with a naked man holding a strategically placed sword during the 84th Oscar ceremony held February 26. (Image: Richard D. Salyer / © A.M.P.A.S.)

Streep's previous two Oscars were as Best Supporting Actress for Robert Benton's Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), featuring Dustin Hoffman, Jane Alexander, and Justin Henry; and as Best Actress for Alan J. Pakula's Sophie's Choice (1982), with Kevin Kline and Peter MacNicol.

Her Best Actress competitors this time around were Viola Davis for The Help, Michelle Williams (as Marilyn Monroe) for Simon Curtis' My Week with Marilyn, Rooney Mara (in Noomi Rapace's original role) for David Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo remake, and six-time nominee Glenn Close in Rodrigo García's Albert Nobbs.

Since Meryl Streep has won three Academy Awards, that also happens to mean she's a fourteen-time loser. See below (nominations in the Best Actress category unless indicated otherwise):

  • Michael Cimino's The Deer Hunter (1978), starring Robert De Niro; she lost to Maggie Smith in Herbert Ross' California Suite in the Best Supporting Actress category.
  • Karel Reisz's The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981), with Jeremy Irons; she lost to Katharine Hepburn for Mark Rydell's On Golden Pond.
  • Mike Nichols' Silkwood (1983), with Kurt Russell and Cher; she lost to Shirley MacLaine for James L. Brooks' Terms of Endearment.
  • Sydney Pollack's Out of Africa (1985), co-starring Robert Redford; she lost to another veteran, Geraldine Page for Peter Masterson's The Trip to Bountiful.
  • Hector Babenco's Ironweed (1987), with Jack Nicholson; she lost to her Silkwood co-star, Cher, in Norman Jewison's Moonstruck.
  • Fred Schepisi's A Cry in the Dark (1988), with Sam Neill; she lost to Jodie Foster in Jonathan Kaplan's The Accused.
  • Nichols' Postcards from the Edge (1990), in which Streep plays a fictionalized version of Star Wars' Carrie Fisher, with Shirley MacLaine as a fictionalized version of Singin' in the Rain's Debbie Reynolds. Streep lost to Kathy Bates in Rob Reiner's Misery.
  • Clint Eastwood's The Bridges of Madison County (1995), co-starring Eastwood; she lost to Susan Sarandon in Tim Robbins' Dead Man Walking.
  • Carl Franklin's One True Thing (1998), with Renée Zellweger, William Hurt, and Tom Everett Scott; she lost to Gwyneth Paltrow in John Madden's Shakespeare in Love.
  • Wes Craven's Music of the Heart (1999), with Angela Bassett, Aidan Quinn, and Cloris Leachman; she lost to Hilary Swank in Kimberly Peirce's Boys Don't Cry.
  • Spike Jonze's Adaptation (2002), with Nicolas Cage, Chris Cooper, and Tilda Swinton; she lost to Catherine Zeta-Jones in Rob Marshall's Chicago in the Best Supporting Actress category.
  • David Frankel's The Devil Wears Prada (2006), with Anne Hathaway and Stanley Tucci; she lost to Helen Mirren in Stephen Frears' The Queen.
  • John Patrick Shanley's Doubt (2008), with Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, and Viola Davis; she lost to Kate Winslet in Stephen Daldry's The Reader.
  • Nora Ephron's Julie & Julia (2009), with Amy Adams; she lost to Sandra Bullock in John Lee Hancock's The Blind Side.

Besides Streep, only three other performers have won three Academy Awards: Walter Brennan as Best Supporting Actor for Howard Hawks and William Wyler's Come and Get It (1936), David Butler's Kentucky (1938), and Wyler's The Westerner; Ingrid Bergman as Best Actress for George Cukor's Gaslight (1944) and Anatole Litvak's Anastasia (1956), and as Best Supporting Actress for Sidney Lumet's Murder on the Orient Express (1974); and Jack Nicholson, Streep's co-star in Mike Nichols' Heartburn (1986) and the aforementioned Ironweed, as Best Actor for Milos Forman's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) and James L. Brooks' As Good as It Gets (1997), and as Best Supporting Actor for Brooks' Terms of Endearment (1983).

Katharine Hepburn is the only performer to have won four Oscars, all in the Best Actress category: for Lowell Sherman's Morning Glory (for the period 1932-33); Stanley Kramer's Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967); Anthony Harvey's The Lion in Winter (1968), tied with Barbra Streisand for William Wyler's Funny Girl; and Mark Rydell's On Golden Pond (1981).

Meryl Streep Oscar
Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep, Best Actress winner for her portrayal Margaret Thatcher in Phyllida Lloyd's The Iron Lady is seen backstage at 2012 Academy Awards on February 26. (Image: Richard D. Salyer / © A.M.P.A.S.)

“… [A]lso I want to thank — because I really understand I'll never be up here again — I really want to thank all my colleagues, all my friends,” Streep said upon accepting her third Oscar statuette. Actually, as long as Streep continues making movies there's a not remote chance that she'll end up an Oscar winner once again. Well, at least if Katharine Hepburn's Oscar trajectory is any indication.

Between Hepburn's first and second wins (Morning Glory, 1932-33 - Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, 1967), there were eight nominations and a 34-year gap. Between Streep's second and third wins (Sophie's Choice, 1982 - The Iron Lady, 2011) there were twelve nominations and a 29-year gap. (Streep's first win was as Best Supporting Actress for Kramer vs. Kramer, 1979.)

Hepburn's third Oscar win (for The Lion in Winter, 1968, tied with Barbra Streisand for Funny Girl) came the year after her second win. Her fourth and final victory was for On Golden Pond thirteen years later. Hepburn was 74 at the time.

Streep currently has no less than four films/projects in various stages of production/development: David Frankel's Great Hope Springs, with Steve Carell and Tommy Lee Jones; John Wells' August: Osage County, with Julia Roberts; Stanley Tucci's Mommy & Me, with Tina Fey; and an untitled Michael Patrick King project to co-star Sandra Bullock and Oprah Winfrey. Streep will turn 63 next June 22.

So, the “half of America” Streep mentioned in her Oscar-acceptance speech – not her! – better get used to the idea that the (for now) 17-time Oscar nominee will be called onstage to get a fourth statuette in the perhaps not-too-distant future. Again.

Meryl Streep Christopher Plummer
Meryl Streep, Christopher Plummer (and The Descendants' Alexander Payne in the background)

Best Actress Meryl Streep chats – or at least looks into the eyes of – Best Supporting Actor Christopher Plummer backstage during the 2012 Academy Awards. This year's Oscar ceremony was held at the Hollywood and Highland Center in Hollywood, CA, Sunday, February 26. Streep won the Oscar for her performance as Margaret Thatcher in Phyllida Lloyd's The Iron Lady. Plummer (Stage Struck, The Sound of Music, The Man Who Would Be King) won for his performance as Ewan McGregor's gay father in Mike Mills' semi-autobiographical Beginners. (Image: Todd Wawrychuk / © A.M.P.A.S.)

Meryl Streep's competition for the Best Actress Oscar was comprised of Viola Davis for Tate Taylor's The Help, Michelle Williams (as Marilyn Monroe) for Simon Curtis' My Week with Marilyn, Rooney Mara for David Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and a cross-dressing Glenn Close for Rodrigo García's Albert Nobbs.

Streep has been nominated for a record 17 Academy Awards. Her previous nominations include those for Michael Cimino's Vietnam War drama The Deer Hunter (1978), starring Robert De Niro; Karel Reisz's The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981), with Jeremy Irons; Mike Nichols' Silkwood (1983), with Kurt Russell and Cher; Sydney Pollack's Out of Africa (1985), co-starring Robert Redford; and Hector Babenco's Ironweed (1987), with Jack Nicholson.

Also, Nichols' Postcards from the Edge (1990), in which Streep plays a fictionalized version of Star Wars' Carrie Fisher, with Shirley MacLaine as a fictionalized version of Singin' in the Rain's Debbie Reynolds; Clint Eastwood's The Bridges of Madison County (1995), playing opposite Eastwood; and David Frankel's The Devil Wears Prada, in which Streep plays a fictionalized version of Vogue's Anna Wintour opposite Anne Hathaway's fictionalized version of Wintour's former assistant Lauren Weisberger.

Streep's previous two Oscars were: Best Supporting Actress for Robert Benton's Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), opposite Dustin Hoffman and Justin Henry, and Best Actress for Alan J. Pakula's Sophie's Choice (1982), opposite Kevin Kline and Peter MacNicol.

Christopher Plummer's fellow 2012 Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominees were Jonah Hill for Bennett Miller's Moneyball, veteran Max von Sydow for Stephen Daldry's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, veteran Kenneth Branagh (as Laurence Olivier) for Simon Curtis' My Week with Marilyn, and final veteran Nick Nolte for Gavin O'Connor's Warrior.

 

Meryl Streep Oscar photo: Todd Wawrychuk / © A.M.P.A.S.

Meryl Streep Oscar Red Carpet golden dress photo: Heather Ikei / © A.M.P.A.S.

Colin Firth kissing Meryl Streep photo: Todd Wawrychuk / © A.M.P.A.S.

Meryl Streep Oscar stage image: Michael Yada / © A.M.P.A.S.

Meryl Streep Oscar q&a transcript: Courtesy of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (A.M.P.A.S.) website.

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4 Comments to Meryl Streep Best Actress Oscar: When Margaret Thatcher Stares Back

  1. Julien

    There are OTHER actresses to rave about. Enough with the Streep lunacy. This woman is overrated as hell.

  2. Heather Burdett

    I love her as a person and an actress and just want to see her going on and on for ever. If she does, I am sure she will be nominated and win another Oscar at some point.

  3. Mark

    Streep has a very, very good shot at winning her fourth Oscar for August Osage County (barring Streep-fatigue by the Academy)…

  4. Giulia

    Congratulations to Meryl and Octavia.
    I was happy to see that once again Meryl Streep has won the Oscar .This actress is something of special.I saw her in the movie ”The bridges of Madison County” with Clint Eastwood.She was marvelous.
    Octavia Spencer she's also special.I like the way she sounds….humble and marvelous.I hope to see her movie soon.
    GOD bless them both.