As I'm sure you've all read in my first AA analysis, Meryl received her first nomination for The Deer Hunter. She followed that up with another nomination in 1980 for actress in a supporting role for her turn as Joanna Kramer in Kramer vs Kramer. Here is where we first see Academy politics at work, as it relates to Meryl anyway. She had about fifteen minutes of actual screen time in this film, and although not unheard of, that's little time to show off one's stuff well enough to be honored with the highest acting recognition there is. What helped was all the buzz around Meryl, from the fact that she was still a relative newcomer, had been nominated the previous year, and shined in two other films in 1979: Manhattan and The Seduction of Joe Tynan.
I certainly wouldn't dream of impugning Meryl's work in this film. She's of course brilliant. However, I wonder if she would have won had this been her first nomination. I'm thrilled she did though. From what I gather, Meryl was a pretty strong contender, again for the aforementioned reasons. Not to mention it was a fantastic film overall, winning five Oscars, including best picture. The full list of nominees included:
Jane Alexander (Kramer vs Kramer)
Barbara Barrie (Breaking Away)
Candice Bergen (Starting Over)
Mariel Hemingway (Manhattan)
Meryl Streep (Kramer vs Kramer)
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Meryl gives a big kiss to Dustin Hoffman (who also won that night for actor in a leading role in Kramer) on her way up to the stage. Interesting. She has made it quite clear in subsequent interviews that the two of them weren't exactly best friends. I can recall Meryl in the extra features on the Kramer DVD saying that the first time they met he slapped her on the face. Sheesh. Apparently Dustin had recently been divorced and a lot of his personal feelings went into his role in this film, which included an animosity toward his soon to be onscreen ex--Meryl. Ok, I totally get trying to get into your role, but the dude was a dick to her in real life. So lame. Having seen Dustin in a few interviews he actually seems like a bit of a pompous and chauvinistic guy. I personally feel it's possible that he resented her a bit because he met in Meryl his acting match. Um, and then some.