By this point it had been five five years since Meryl's last win for Sophie's Choice. Her seventh overall nomination for 1987's Ironweed was not particularly expected to win, as Meryl's friend Cher, with whom she had worked in Silkwood in 1983, took home the award for Actress in a Leading role. Meryl had sort of already cemented herself as an expected nominee if in a lead role with notable actors. Ironweed was no exception, with Meryl starring alongside Jack Nicholson.
From what I understand, Cher was the closest thing to a front runner that year. The biggest competition she had was from Glenn Close in her turn as the psycho-bitch girlfriend opposite Michael Douglas in Fatal Attraction. The film was a major box-office success, and Close was on her fourth nomination without a win. One could've made a very strong case for Close that year. Sadly, Close remains 0 for 6 to this day, her last loss coming only four months ago to Meryl in The Iron Lady. The entire list of nominees is as follows:
Glenn Close (Fatal Attraction)
Holly Hunter (Broadcast News)
Sally Kirkland (Anna)
Meryl Streep (Ironweed)
Whoa there is a lot of really big hair in that room. You can see Meryl hop out of her chair with excitement when Cher's name was announced. It was fun hearing Cher mention "Mary Louise Streep" in her acceptance speech, as it has now become rather common for Meryl's peers to recognize her when they are awarded over her. I have unfortunately never even seen Moonstruck! I'm kind of surprised by this and in other posts in this section I usually check out the winner's film if I haven't seen it just to be sure I'm able to be objective about it. But I have seen Fatal Attraction, and I WAY preferred that film over Ironweed anyway, so I likely would've put Meryl's chances at third or fourth.