I wanted to link an article I read today that tackles the question that is regularly, and by now mundanely, posed about where Meryl Streep stands in the pantheon of Hollywood acting history. After having so fastidiously followed news, blogs, interviews and promotional stints that pertain to Meryl during this film awards season, I've far too often read detractors tirelessly debunk Streep's label as possibly the greatest actress of all time. What I take issue with in particular is when people say that her roles or characters are too technical, too cerebral or just an impersonation. These quips are old news as far as I'm concerned. They're simply rationalizations for putting another actor's performance ahead of Meryl's.
This is not to suggest that Meryl's performance in any film is automatically best, but we need to be fair. People complain, for example, that an accent Meryl may employ in a role is too technical. I say that we can't get distracted by this skill. We can't dissect the quality out of a performance because of a British actor's ability to sound Texan. If we look past the makeup, the wigs and the accents and understand that they're there to add to the character and not make the character, we can see how well Meryl is able to do what she does.
What does she do? For me, as I said in my inaugural post of this blog, she convinces me that who I'm watching is a different person than who I know is playing the character, accent or not. My disbelief is suspended, however momentarily, by her craft. Her versatility is what is such a big draw for me. I get a kick out of seeing whether or not I can be "fooled" by a performance. Meryl does that for me time and time again. I have therefore indulged in her glorious canon of screen work and inevitably compared it to that of the other "greats." Of course, it's impossible to quantify because we'll never all agree on the measures. According to my measures however, Meryl reigns supreme.