The most nominated actress in history will most likely be making several acceptance speeches this award season. Nothing seems to stand in the way of Meryl Streep for award wins this year for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady.” While many believe she has been deserving of many wins over the last two decades, none of the usual Hollywood obstacles stand in her way this time around. Combine that with a formula known to impress award voters, and odds are Streep will finally take home her third Oscar statue.
Arguably the greatest actress ever, Streep has received 16 Academy Award nominations and 26 Golden Globe nominations over her 40-year career, not to mention several others, including the AFI Life Achievement Award. Despite seven Golden Globe wins, Streep’s impressive performances have earned only two Academy Awards, for “Kramer vs. Kramer” and “Sophie’s Choice.” Her last win was in 1982, and despite being honored consistently for her impressive work, she has yet to capture another coveted Oscar statue.
Her almost 30-year losing streak can be attributed to several factors, none of which seem to stand in Streep’s way for this year’s Oscar ceremony. The actress made her film debut in “Julia” in 1977, and won both of her Oscars within five years. Since then, she has often been overlooked for an Oscar win, despite powerful and realistic performances that no one can match.
The usual reason for her loss has to do with Hollywood politics. More often than not, Streep loses to a young actress who gives a break-out performance or a box office darling who surprises audiences by breaking type. In 1998, Streep realistically portrayed the decaying effects of cancer onscreen in “One True Thing,” yet she lost to up-and-comer Gwyneth Paltrow for a less-than-earth-shattering performance in “Shakespeare in Love.”
Then there’s just two seasons ago — comparing performances alone, it is hard to argue Sandra Bullock’s performance in “The Blind Side” is better than Streep’s spot-on portrayal of real life legend Julia Child in “Julie and Julia.” Yet Bullock had transformed from romantic comedy darling to stern mother with an accent, so the Academy forgot about Streep. More often than not Streep’s consistency is her downfall, as the voters seem romanced by surprise turns over powerful performances.
This year seems without the usual obstacles, however. With Glenn Close losing award steam for her gender-bending performance in “Albert Nobbs” and competition coming from already-nominated actresses like Michelle Williams and possibly Tilda Swinton, nothing seems to present the usual problems that have plagued Streep from winning. Many critics say her only potential contender is Viola Davis, for her subtle performance in the massively successful “The Help.”
Here is where the Oscar formula for a win will catapult Streep ahead: She portrays a real-life, important figure in history and =dons fake teeth, a wig, and a spot-on accent. Oscar voters are usually romanced by portrayals of real-life people, as evidenced by last year’s wins by biographical performances for three out of four acting categories. When you factor in the iconic stature of the character being portrayed, it only further cements the importance of Streep’s performance in the minds of the Academy.
Chances are very good that Meryl Streep will join the likes of Jack Nicholson, Ingrid Bergman, and Walter Brennan for winning three Academy Awards. It may have taken her 20 years to join this illustrious club, but there seems little standing in the way of that ultimate fate. Given her astounding number of nominations and continually impressive performances, it is only a matter of time before she joins Katharine Hepburn for the most acting wins by a single actor, with four total. Hopefully it will take less than 20 more years for Hollywood to stop politicking around and recognize Meryl Streep again for her continually captivating work.
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