I needed something, anything, to take my mind off the day's events. Then, I pressed play.
When Streep walked into the frame, everything around me started to melt away. There was nothing else but her. I'd heard whispers of a legendary thespian, someone who literally became the women she played, and who'd been nominated for more Oscars than anyone before her. But, I had never seen her act. Right away, I was hooked. Over the coming weeks, I immersed myself in Streep's epic catalog.
Kramer Vs. Kramer. Bone-chillingly cold, beautiful in a way that borders on alien, she makes you hate her, fear her, love her, and empathize with her all in one. It only got more astounding with her turn as a complicated, haunted immigrant in Sophie's Choice. It's no secret that her range is incredible, but to see it at play all within the course of one movie? It's a performance that hasn't faded in the slightest with time. Even her turn as a spiteful editrix in the otherwise guilty-pleasure, The Devil Wears Prada, was enough to pull the movie into another level entirely — the scenes revealing her character's surprising humanity had the kind of depth only Meryl could bring. Oh, and of course, their was her gritty but doomed activist in Silkwood. The scope of her ability was breathtaking, indomitable, once-in-a-lifetime — and despite the gravity of her skill, she is always a joy to watch.
That was a decade ago. Since then, Streep has never stopped amazing me. And, in an industry where youth is often a far more powerful currency than talent, she's done her best to buck that trend. Besides having a public persona that is all grace, humility, and friendliness (something that goes a long way in today's Hollywood), she's maintained relevance by refusing to be pigeonholed in a way that very few other actors can claim to achieve at her age. She brings surprising mirth to the world of romantic comedies for empty nesters in It's Complicated, where it almost seems like we may be getting a glimpse of her real personality. Though, of course, I wouldn't presume to know the "real" personality of a figure who keeps so pointedly out of the public eye.
Then, just when you think she's found a new home in fun blockbusters like Mamma Mia, she'll turn right around and do something so astonishing, so excruciatingly awesome, that it serves to refute any and all claims that she could ever lose "it." August: Osage County is the greatest manifestation of this trait, and even though it's painful and soul crushing, it's also an addicting movie that demands multiple viewings. In fact, it might just be demanding one right now...
Meryl Streep changed me. I am now the proud owner of my own chocolate-bar deep-frying station, and I have her to thank. Happy Birthday, Miss Streep. You've changed my life.