1999: Music of the Heart
I should have probably included Music of the Heart in yesterday's post, as it is the last in Streep's streak of 90s family-oriented dramas. Word is that Madonna was supposed to play the role of real-life inner city music teacher, Roberta Guaspari, but Streep stepped in at the last minute and — being Meryl Streep — learned how to convincingly play the violin in record time.
She is wonderful, of course, holding her own even as she takes the legendary stage at Carnegie Hall with musical greats Itzhak Perlman and Isaac Stern. She is tough, but loving and you root for the kids and the art of music right along with her.
After a short break, Streep returned to the screen in 2002 in Adaptation, a Charlie Kaufman/Spike Jonze film based on the struggle Kaufman endured while trying to adapt The Orchid Theif, a wonderful book by Susan Orlean. Streep plays both a real (in the first half of the film) and imagined (every weird and wonderful thing that happens after reality ends) version of Orlean.
It must be mentioned that Chris Cooper more than deserved the Academy Award he won for playing the passionate, obsessive and sublimely cooky John Laroche ("That's how much fuck fish"), whose scenes with Streep are some of the best ever committed to film. Streep is especially delightful when things start to get crazy; I could watch her brush her teeth, tell Laroche that she's 'very happy now' and make a dial tone for days on end without getting bored.
Adaptation is really a brilliant movie, and one of my all-time favorites — one that only gets better with each subsequent viewing.
2002: The Hours
Oh, The Hours, how do I ever explain how much I love thee? From the divine Philip Glass soundtrack, to the expert trio of Streep, Kidman and Moore, to the amazing supporting cast (Claire Danes, Jeff Daniels, Ed Harris, Toni Collette, John C. Reilly) the entire movie is perfection. The novel, by Michael Cunningham, is one of my favorite books of all time and I am continually amazed at how expertly it was translated onto film.
It's quiet and beautiful and heartbreaking and moving — not to mention the one amazing kiss Streep shares with (the always amazing) Alison Janney. If that's not reason enough to see it, then you can't call yourself a fan.
Side note: Streep's character's name is Clarissa Vaughan, a name I absolutely adore — enough to have planned to name a hairless cat after her... If I ever get rich and crazy enough to buy a hairless cat, that is.
2003: Stuck on You
Yes, Meryl Streep is in the Farrelly brother's movie where Greg Kinnear and Matt Damn play siamese twins. Yes, I own this film voluntarily ONLY because Streep is in it. No, I don't recommend this film as a whole. Yes, Meryl Streep is hilarious as herself. Yes, I am done reviewing this film.
2003: Angels in America
I don't usually have the longest attention span, or the ability to remain awake during long movies. But Angels in America is so captivating, so devastating, so amazingly wonderful and choc-full of gaaah-sooo-goood Streep performances (4 total!) that its nearly 6 hr. running time seems more like 6 minutes.
Based on Tony Kushner's award-winning stage play, Angels would be brilliant without Meryl Streep. With her (also award-winning) performances as a rabbi (her first time playing a man, so convincingly that her co-stars had no idea it was MerylStreep under that beard), a Mormon, a principality and (a surprisingly hilarious) Ethel Rosenberg, it's beyond anything I can possibly describe.
Do yourself a favor and watch Angels, and then, watch it again (trust me, you'll want to).
2004: The Manchurian Candidate
In this 2004 remake of the Manchurian Candidate, Streep plays the role of Eleanor Prentiss Shaw, a woman in politics (not so far from that other famous woman in politics, you know) who has bigger balls than any man to ever walk Capitol Hill. She is riveting and certainly knows how to make a speech and work a room; if Streep ever decides to go into politics her opponents don't even stand a chance.