Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Laura Dern in talks for "Little Women"

The circle may be complete. Multiple sources are now reporting that Laura Dern is in talks to star in Greta Gerwig's upcoming adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. The only question is which role Dern will be playing, but I think we can all guess it will be Marmee (mother to the March sisters).  Dern of course will be seen alongside Meryl early next year in the second season of HBO's Big Little Lies. 

This is quite the cast Gerwig has lined up for herself.  With Dern joining the likes of Streep, Saoirse Ronan, Emma Stone and Timothée Chalamet, the gay twitter universe may just implode.

Filming is set for early October.

Director Greta Gerwig and Laura Dern at the 2018 Academy Awards

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Seven years of Word on the Streep!

I'm sure I sound like a broken record every time August 12 rolls around, but I enjoy commemorating the start of this blog with a big thank-you to any and all readers of Word on the Streep.  It's been seven years since I started writing down my obsessive thoughts about Meryl, and after nearly 800 posts, my interest is far from waning.

It has truly been a joy to read everyone's thoughts and opinions over the years, and I look forward to another twelve months of interaction. We have a lot to look forward to with all of Meryl's projects in the pipeline! 

Thank you again.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Poll #8: With which leading man did Meryl have the best chemistry?

It's been over three months since I've posted a poll so I figured we were due. Blogger has kind of been pissing me off lately, as they had issues with sending email notifications for comments for several weeks, and have also now discontinued they very easy-to-use poll gadget. So, it may look a little different that usual, as I've had to use an outside format.

Meryl has shared the screen with a wide array of leading men over the years, a handful on more than one occasion. I thought it'd be fun to consider who her best leading man has been.

Check out the choices to the right of the page, and of course comment if your favorite does not show up on the list. I'd be interested to read people's other choices, as I couldn't include everyone.

I'd have to say that mine is Kevin Kine in Sophie's Choice. I believe that Meryl had seen him in a play and recommended him to director Alan Pakula. It was Kline's first film role and for me, Meryl and Kevin were just a tragically fantastic pairing as Sophie and Nathan.

Happy voting!

Thursday, August 2, 2018

James Norton joins "Little Women"

English actor James Norton has reportedly joined the cast of Greta Gerwig's upcoming adaptation of Little Women. 

Yeah, not exactly repulsive. No word yet on whom the Flatliners actor is set to portray. Maybe Meg's husband? 

Filming will begin early October of this year. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Is there a role for Meryl in Hillary Clinton and Steven Spielberg's new limited series?

Multiple sources have just reported that Hillary Clinton is teaming with Steven Spielberg to bring Elaine Weiss's book The Woman's Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote to the small screen. The story tells of the fight to ratify the 19th Amendment, which ultimately gave women in the United States the right to vote. Plans are for a possible limited series.

When I researched these articles, I immediately thought of Meryl of course. She's a friend of Hillary's, just worked with Spielberg last year on The Post and this is exactly the type of project that Streep typically jumps at.

As early as 2012, Meryl was quoted as saying she'd to do a movie with Kathy Bates about suffragists Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The reviews I've read of The Woman's Hour describe a lot of backstories, including those of Anthony and Stanton, among a multitude of other characters.

No one is apparently hired to adapt a screenplay yet, but I'm obviously going to be keeping a close eye on this project. If they hustle, maybe they could get it together for a fall shoot next year, just in time for a release during the tumultuous political climate we're likely to see unfold in 2020 (a la The Nix).

Monday, July 30, 2018

"Mamma Mia!" sequel continues strong run at box office

In it's second weekend, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again took in another $15 million, bringing its domestic total to $70m.  Box Office Mojo reported that the film had a larger drop than expected (45%), but it still came in second after the debut of Tom Cruise's latest Mission Impossible entry.

A strong international showing brings the film's worldwide total to a hefty $168 million already. I don't expect it to reach the levels of the original, which topped $600m, but good reviews and positive word of mouth will hopefully propel this to a similarly strong finish. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Eliza Scanlen likely to join "Little Women"

We may have completed our quartet of March sisters. Australian Eliza Scanlen is reportedly in consideration for director Greta Gerwig's upcoming remake of Little Women. Scanlen most recently starred alongside Amy Adams in HBO's Sharp Objects. She would play the oft-ill sister, Beth. Variety reported that she tested opposite Emma Stone (Meg) earlier this month and evidently did well.

I'd never heard of Scanlen before this news, but it's good to see that the entire cast won't be completely A-list. That can almost get a little distracting, to be honest. Scanlen and Stone will join Saoirse Ronan as Jo and Florence Pugh as youngest sister, Amy. The only other main character we have yet to hear about is that of Marmee, mother to the March girls.

Filming is set for October.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Film review: "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again" (2018)

My friend Scooter and I caught a matinee of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again yesterday. In the preceding couple of days, it was already apparent that the sequel was poised to establish itself as a formidable follow-up to the immensely popular original. Released almost ten years to the date of its predecessor, this second iteration has a distinction that the first installment failed to garner: critical praise. Yes, with a Rotten Tomatoes score at 78%, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, while not a consensus gem, is somewhat surprisingly appeasing critics with its more polished execution.

Both Scooter and I agreed that the first quarter of the film dragged a bit. It opens with Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) busily preparing for the reopening of her mother's hotel. We learn early that Meryl's character Donna has indeed passed, thus striking the emotional drive for both the present-day events and flashback sequences. Considering Meryl was barely in the movie until a single scene at the end (with a touching performance of My Love, My Life), my favorite scenes were with Lily James, who plays the young Donna. She is an absolute joy to watch onscreen. Beautiful, energetic, glowing, with a light, yet lovely voice. We're given a glimpse into how she met Sophie's "three fathers." And while it was particularly silly to believe she would run into a devilishly handsome contemporary every fifty paces, it was nonetheless enjoyable to follow as their relationships unfold. I admit I developed a little crush on Josh Dylan, who plays young Bill (Stellan Skarsgård).

Comic relief was adeptly provided by both Julie Walters (Rosie) and especially Christine Baranski (Tanya), with such irreverant quips from Tanya as "be still my beating vagina." Alexa Davies (young Rosie) and Jessica Keenan-Wyn were delightful as their twenty-something counterparts.

And then of course there's queen Cher. Portraying Ruby, Donna's mother and Sophie's grandmother, she flies in on a helicopter to crash the hotel's opening extravaganza. I told some friends that she's very Cher-y in her fun performance of Fernando with Andy Garcia, who portrays the hotel manager, Fernando, extraordinarily a former lover of Ruby's. Overall, pretty much only Meryl and Cher sounded like professional singers, but that's sort of the tone of the film, I guess, and it didn't really bother me. 

Numbers are still trickling in from the box office, but the opening weekend is likely to land around $34 million, slightly under the projected total of $40m. Worldwide, it's already hit a total of over $76 million, opening in multiple large international markets simultaneously with its U.S. release.

As I had mentioned in a previous post, part of the appeal of this film is likely the simple fact that it's fun. While there are some sentimental or even sad scenes, those moments lend the film a more touching human element, despite its often predictable, corny dialogue. I have only seen the first film once (opening weekend 2008), and frankly have had little interest in a second viewing. For part two, however, I just might have to get myself to the theater for another dose.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

"Little Women" set for Christmas 2019 release

Box Office Mojo has updated its release schedule to include "Little Women" for Christmas Day 2019. This position suggests that Sony expects the film to be an awards player (duh), as well as a potential holiday box office hit. The 1994 version was also released around the holidays, with the film's snowy settings a natural fit for a December premiere.

Of course this date is subject to change, but it's sort of a no-brainer for this level of project. Shooting is set to begin in October. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Positive reviews flowing in for "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again"

Well color me surprised. The first critic reviews started coming in yesterday for Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, and I'm guessing I'm not the only one who wasn't expecting such a positive response. As this goes to post, with 57 reviews counted on Rotten Tomatoes, the film is sitting at a very strong 86%. Dozens of additional reactions will of course trickle in over the coming days, but at this point, that number is extremely encouraging. Even Metacritic, with it's weighted scale, has the film at a respectable 65, indicating "generally favorable" reviews.

The sequel is probably just overall a better picture. From the trailers, the cinematography and camera angles seem a little more sophisticated (not that I'm an expert) than the original, which, in comparison, topped out at a tepid 54% on RT. Well done, Ol Parker. 

Even though Meryl is only making a cameo, anytime something she's involved in is well-received, it's exciting. Hopefully the reviews forecast a hefty performance at the box open as well!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Streep attends premiere of "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again"

Meryl was in London today for the premiere of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.

A lot of eyes were of course on the newest cast member, Cher. She and Meryl actually shared a kiss at one point on the blue carpet, no doubt to screams from onlookers. Streep's attendance seemed to put to rest fears from a few remaining naysayers out there who still weren't convinced that she actually made an appearance in the film at all. 

The film opens nationwide in the States on Friday. I'll be catching a Saturday matinee with Scooter. 

Additional photos of Meryl from the premiere can be found here

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Streep performs three songs on soundtrack to "Mamma Mia!" sequel

The soundtrack for Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again will be released tomorrow (Friday) Meryl is listed three times on the recently revealed tracklist:

• When I Kissed the Teacher - Lily James, Jessica Keenan Wynn, Alexa Davies and Celia Imrie

• I Wonder (Departure) - Lily James, Jessica Keenan Wynn and Alexa Davies

• One of Us - Amanda Seyfried and Dominic Cooper

• Waterloo - Hugh Skinner and Lily James

• Why Did It Have to Be Me? - Josh Dylan, Lily James and Hugh Skinner

• I Have a Dream - Lily James

• Kisses of Fire - Panos Mouzourakis

• Andante, Andante - Lily James

• The Name of the Game - Lily James

• Knowing Me, Knowing You - Jeremy Irvine, Lily James, Pierce Brosnan and Amanda Seyfried

• Angel Eyes - Christine Baranski, Julie Walters and Amanda Seyfried

• Mamma Mia - Lily James, Jessica Keenan Wynn and Alexa Davies

• Dancing Queen - Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard, Amanda Seyfried, Christine Baranski, Julie          Walters and Pierce Brosnan

• I've Been Waiting for You - Amanda Seyfried, Christine Baranski and Julie Walters

• Fernando - Cher and Andy Garcia

• My Love, My Life - Amanda Seyfried, Lily James and Meryl Streep

• Super Trouper - Cher, Meryl Streep, Christine Baranski, Julie Walters, Pierce Brosnan, Colin      Firth, Stellan Skarsgard, Andy Garcia, Amanda Seyfried, Dominic Cooper, Lily James, Jessica      Keenan Wynn and Alexa Davies

• The Day Before You Came - Meryl Streep

Lily James is obviously a large part of the picture, based solely how much she's represented in the recording. I'm particularly looking forward to hearing "My Love, My Life."  "The Day Before You Came" is likely Meryl's big moment in the film.

Earlier today there was also a new featurette where Meryl discusses her involvement:

The film opens next Friday, July 20.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Disney changes "Mary Poppins Returns" release date

Disney has slightly bumped up the release date for Mary Poppins Returns from Christmas Day to 12/19. This may not seem like that big of a deal, but with Christmas on a Tuesday this year, moving the film's release up to the prior Wednesday may signal confidence in its box office potential from the studio. By the time Christmas Day comes to a close, we will have a full seven days of receipts to take the temperature of the film's reception.

This move will also wreak havoc for other studios, who are now likely going to have to reconsider their slates for the entire month of December. I doubt Disney is too worried about it. 

Sunday, July 8, 2018

New scenes from "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again"

Some new scenes were recently released from the upcoming Mamma Mia! sequel:

It heavily features Cher, who portrays Meryl's mother in the film. After watching this, I'm actually starting to look forward to the film. I've mentioned in previous posts that the production quality seems pretty good and that it's colorful and bright. Even if the film doesn't end up being what most critics would call a good film, or if it's cheesy and campy and predictable, it will likely provide something that I can remember Meryl describing about the original.

She had originally seen the show on Broadway shortly after 9/11, and recalled that the buoyancy and fun of the production was uplifting to her and the group of kids she had taken as part of her daughter's birthday party. It was a dark and somber time in the United States, and with the way things are currently going here, I'm realizing that I'm craving over-the-top happy things again, regardless of their artistic merit.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again opens nationwide July 20.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Streep to play Aunt March in "Little Women" reboot

According to the Los Angeles Times, Meryl will be portraying wealthy Aunt Josephie in Greta Gerwig's upcoming adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. Since the news broke last week that Meryl was attached to participate in the project, it was widely reported and assumed that Streep would portray Marmee, mother to the March girls. But producer Robin Swicord, who wrote the screenplay to the 1994 film version, is quoted as saying that Meryl will in fact portray Aunt March instead.

It sort of makes sense if we think about the age. Streep, at 69, might be too much of a stretch to play the mother of early 20-something girls. Not that Meryl couldn't pass for early to mid 50s, but the role of Aunt March seems more realistic. What's interesting about the article is that it suggests that the role may be a bit juicer than that of Marmee.  After watching the 1994 film for the first time this weekend (don't hate), I was sort of disappointed that Susan Sarandon seemed to have so little to do. If Gerwig is indeed focusing more on the girls' experiences as young adults, the role of Aunt March may be more prominent, as she regularly tries to influence the girls life choices, with varying levels of success.

Here's hoping that Greta has made it worth Meryl's while. Filming is set to begin on October 1.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

"Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again featurette

A brief featurette entitled "Becoming Donna" was released yesterday with commentary by Meryl:


She's very complimentary of Lily James, who plays the younger version of Donna in the sequel. It's cute how James lights up when she talks about Meryl and how she's "the greatest actress of all time."

In related news, a recent article in Forbes is reporting that the film is expected to bring in around $30 million in it's opening weekend of July 20.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Streep attached to Gerwig's "Little Women"

Hot off the presses, Variety broke the news earlier today that director Greta Gerwig is assembling an-all star cast for her adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's novel Little Women. Meryl's name is included in the crop of actors circling the roles, with Saoirse Ronan, Emma Stone and Timothée Chalamet in talks as well. 

We know that as early as last fall, Gerwig had said in an interview that she was essentially coaxing Meryl for a role in her newest project. I was first alerted to the possibility of that role being in Little Women by a reader of this blog. It definitely made sense at the time, and with the other actors attached, I'm hoping that Meryl would play the mom, Marmee.

There is currently a ton of speculation out there (I've done a lot of snooping) about who is going to play which role. My guess is that the actors in Gerwig's adaptation are going to be a good 10 years older than the actual ages of their characters from the original novel.  Which is fine by me if it means Meryl will have a more meaty role.  Current tracking has Ronan for the lead role of "Jo," with Stone as "Meg."  Chalamet is rumored to be portraying "Laurie," who marries the youngest sister, "Amy."

Another big speculation is whether Gerwig will be placing the film in its original setting of Civil War-era Massachusetts.  Some "insiders" on Twitter have suggested that she is putting a more modern spin on it (which to me would be particularly refreshing), but that of course remains to be seen.

Other sites have indicated that the film is set to shoot near Boston in September and October. It makes me wonder how this would potentially conflict with Meryl participating in Steven Soderbergh's The Laundromate, which is reportedly scheduled to film this fall as well. If that's the case, and Meryl is involved with both films, it make me think that her role in Laundromat will indeed be a fairly minor one, even if her character is supposed to be the "emotional throughline" of the picture (I recently finished reading Secrecy World, and if her character is who I think it may be, she's barely mentioned in the book). Were both these roles supporting, she should have no problem filming each. It could be like the shooting schedule for a single lead role.

AS ALWAYS, time will tell on all these questions. Of course it's extremely exciting to have Meryl involved in another enticing project. Add in Big Little Lies and 2019 might end up being one of the biggest years she's ever had.

Streep, Stone, Ronan, Chalamet and Gerwig

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Cher with Meryl in ET segment on "Mamma Mia!" sequel

Entertainment Tonight did a little segment on Cher's participation in the upcoming Mamma Mia! sequel and we get a little blurb of Meryl talking about her:


Lord knows she's had her share of work done, but Cher looks damn good. Some nice clips from other returning members of the cast as well. The film hits theaters three weeks from Friday!

Friday, June 22, 2018

Happy 69th, Meryl!

Today, Meryl begins her 70th year on this great Earth. Hard to believe she's already 69, but what a decade she's had. With an Academy Award and four other nominations, she's continuing to put out exquisite and varied performances, and showing no signs of slowing down. We get to look forward to two movies this year, an apparently juicy role on Big Little Lies next winter and a chance to team with Steven Soderbergh in filming a hotly-anticipated political thriller this fall with The Laundromat. 

She's the gift that keeps on giving and I hope she has a chance to do something today she enjoys as much as I've enjoyed following her onscreen career.

Here's to you, marvelous Meryl.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Season 2 of "Big Little Lies" in the can?

Nicole Kidman has been more than generous with her Instagram posts in regard to updates on filming of the second season of Big Little Lies. Her latest seems to suggest that shooting has indeed wrapped:

I recently reported that it looked like filming would be coming to a close soon, and that now seems to be the case.  I've read that there are a lot of interior shots for the series that were not shot in Monterey, but if memory serves, those were taken care of in the first half of production.

As I've also previously mentioned, the big question now is when the hell will be get to see the new season?! We already know it's not coming this year, so the best we can hope for is the first quarter of 2019, which seems reasonable, considering season one began in February last year. Is February sweeps still a thing, even if it's HBO? 

Now can we please get a few more details on The Laundromat soon?

Sunday, June 10, 2018

New clip from "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

A clip I haven't seen yet showed up on YouTube the other day from United International Pictures, an Argentinian site that is likely distributing the film there:

The clip shows the filming of the "Waterloo" scene, where young Donna (Lily James) meets young Harry (Hugh Skinner).  Donna of course was played by Meryl in the original ten years ago, while Harry was portrayed by Colin Firth.

The premiere of the film is kind of sneaking up on us, with only six weeks remaining before it arrives in theaters in the U.S. and U.K.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Filming wrapping up on "Big Little Lies" season 2

The much-anticipated second season of HBO's powerhouse limited series Big Little Lies began filming in mid March. There have been a few articles recently indicating that production is still underway, but that it's likely wrapping up this month. Three months sort of seemed like a reasonable length of time, but when I consider that it's almost seven hours worth of programming, that's actually a pretty swift schedule. This photo of Meryl with a Monterey resident is a few weeks old,  but it's the first time I've seen it anywhere:

Nicole Kidman's Instagram photos of her and her costars out bowling has been making the social media rounds today as well.  I had a lazy afternoon yesterday and just happened to watch the last episode from season one and it is so damn good. This is going to be a wonderful thing to look forward to for several weeks this winter. 

(on left) Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Meryl Streep and Shailene Woodley

Monday, May 28, 2018

Who will Streep play in "The Laundromat"?

It was announced two weeks ago that Meryl had been tapped to star in The Laundromat, a "fact-based" film directed by Steven Soderbergh and based on the book Secrecy World: Inside the Panama Papers Investigation of Illicit Money Networks and the Global Elite. I haven't found any other information since the announcement that describes who we can expect Meryl to portray.  I had mentioned in the comments of my original post that the most likely character seems like it would be journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. She helped lead the release of the Panama Papers, which had demonstrated tax evasion efforts by a law firm based out of Panama called Mossack Fonesca. Her involvement unfortunately got her killed, as she was murdered in a car bombing last October. 

Galizia was Maltese, which of course means she's from Malta. I had to actually look at a map online to see exactly where it is. It's a little Southern European island in the Mediterranean Sea not far from Sicily. I've watched some video of Galizia and this would mean another fun accent for Meryl to master, one I certainly never conceived she would undertake. In the videos and other pictures I've seen, it crossed my mind that I'm not sure if we'd consider Galizia white? I certainly don't want Meryl embroiled in a whitewashing fiasco for a role, but if it does end up being Galizia that Meryl is playing, I think this will fall more along the lines of playing an Italian (Francesca in The Bridges of Madison County) or a Greek (Maria Callas in the never-produced Master Class). Perhaps more challenging will be that Galizia was 53 when she died. Meryl turns 69 in a few weeks (but that's basically the same spread for when she just played Katharine Graham).

I haven't read the book yet, but my understanding is that Galizia is only mentioned briefly in it. That being said, who knows what's all going to be in the movie, as the articles announcing Meryl's potential participation described her character as the "emotional throughline" of the film. I don't know if that means a leading or supporting role. We also know that Streep is familiar with Galizia's work, as Meryl played tribute to her and other slain journalists a few months ago for "paying the hardest price for their questions."

Again, however, the character Meryl plays could be a completely different person! But it just really seems like this is the most likely. Netflix is in the running for distribution rights and filming is evidently planned for this fall. Looking forward to learning more hopefully soon. 

Monday, May 21, 2018

Academy Awards analysis (2009)

By 2009, Meryl had become incredibly overdue for a second Lead Actress Oscar. She came close for 2008's Doubt, but came up short that year behind Kate Winslet in The Reader. With her acclaimed performance in Julie & Julia only a year later, it seemed early on like Meryl might actually make it. She'd been lauded by multiple film critic circles and the film itself was generally well-received, including a fantastic box office performance.

Sadly, Sandra Bullock swooped in with very little critical praise for her performance in The Blind Side to basically sweep the television awards that year, winning the drama Globe (Meryl won comedy), SAG, BFCA (tied with Meryl!) and the Oscar. I hadn't realized until checking for which awards Bullock had been nominated that year and saw just now that she wasn't even nominated at BAFTA.  I guess that's not super surprising, considering The Blind Side is a distinctly American movie.

OK let's keep it real. This performance should not have come anywhere near an Academy Award. I love me some Sandy Bullock, but I maintain that this award was more of an industry recognition for the fact that she'd been a box office powerhouse for nearly twenty years. The Blind Side also did extremely well in theaters and had that helpful Best Picture nom with the Academy, versus the solo Actress nod for Meryl in her movie.

Wonderful speech and Bullock looks stunning. It was sort of a fun little back and forth that she and Meryl had during that awards season, as Sandra made fun of the often over-hyped way people tend to pit actresses against each other. As she told Oprah the morning after her win, she wanted to diffuse that nonsense when they both tied for the Critics' Choice win by kissing Meryl. It was cute. 

Honestly, the biggest disappointment for me in all this is that the role Bullock should've possibly one for was 2013's Gravity. It was a way better movie and way better performance, and while she was nominated, it was very unlikely that they were going to award her twice. Had she not won for Blind Side, I think it's very possible that Cate Blanchett would still be without a lead win.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Streep in talks for Soderbergh film "The Laundromat"

I have to admit that when I saw the title of the article of Meryl starring in a "Panama Papers" thriller by a director named Steven S., I had to do a bit of a double take.  No, it's not a sequel to her recent Pentagon Papers film The Post that was directed by Steven Spielberg. Instead, it's been announced that Streep is set to star in director Steven Soderbergh's new project entitled The Laundromat, based on the so-called Panama Papers, which were "leaked documents that showed how Mossack Fonseca, a Panamanian law firm, allowed the wealthy and the connected to funnel money illegally in and around the world." The script was written by Scott Z Burns is based on Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jake Bernstein's book Secrecy World: Inside the Panama Papers Investigation of Illicit Money Networks and the Global Elite. Antonio Banderas and Gary Oldman are also in talks to join.

Very little has been revealed about Meryl's role at this point, other than that her character is apparently the "emotional throughline" of the movie. In reading a few tidbits about the book, it totally seems like an interesting topic, and I'll probably pick up a copy. I wasn't able to glean any idea, however, of what Meryl's character would be (maybe the whistleblower?) Of course I want to know if it'll be a lead role/supporting role.  I also have no idea on why it's called The Laundromat.  Maybe what they call the network for funneling funds illegally. More to come on all that, I'm sure.

No word yet either on when filming may get underway, but it looks like Netflix is interested in distribution rights. It's nice to see her announced to be working with another great director!

Gary Oldman, Antonio Banderas and Steven Soderbergh

Thursday, May 10, 2018

New video from "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again"

A new video has been released showing a full song performed by Lily James as a "young Meryl" in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again:

By young Meryl, of course I mean "young Meryl's character." I maintain that I'm not particularly enthusiastic about Meryl participating in this film, as her role is obviously very small. That said, watching this clip I'm sort of looking forward to seeing it. Yes, it'll be campy, silly, low-brow and maybe even poorly written. But I highly doubt it will be boring.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Final trailer for "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

Universal Pictures released the final trailer for Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again earlier today:

It's pretty obvious that Meryl's character Donna will have a very small role, and there's not much in this new trailer that makes me think anything other than Donna is dead. 

I actually felt sort of interested to see the movie(?)  It looks fun, upbeat and colorful, which is sort of lacking in a lot of the things I tend to see on screen these days. The music of course will be recognizable and enjoyable, and the announcement last week that ABBA will be releasing new music for the first time in over three decades will hopefully be a promotional boon to the film's box office changes. Cher might help too. 

Here We Go Again opens nationwide July 20.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Results of poll #7

The results are in for poll #7, where I asked readers to vote on whether or not they think Meryl will win another Oscar. We have a tie! Only three of 35 voters thought she never would, while with ten votes each, people thought she had an equal likelihood of winning for a leading role in either a novel/play adaptation or an original role. I happened to choose the 'leading role in a biopic,' but that option only garnered four votes.

I'm actually a little surprised that not more people chose the biopic option, as the Academy tends to foam at the mouth for such roles. That said, Meryl's played a lot of real-life characters, her most recent win of course coming for portraying Margaret Thatcher (and her last two noms were for biopics in Florence Foster Jenkins and The Post), so it may be more of a novelty and therefore more likely to reward her for a brilliant, even surprising performance of a role created in someone's mind.

As always, I'm open to any suggestions for polls people want to see!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Streep again on the set of "Big Little Lies"

More set pics! The Daily Mail posted some new photos of Meryl filming a scene on the beach in Suasalito, CA the other day. She's with her onscreen grandsons, Max and Josh (played by Nicholas and Cameron Covetti).

Photos courtesy of Daily Mail.  I've noticed in the last few pics that have surfaced of her on set (particularly the above left) that Meryl seems to be wearing false teeth. They look kind of bucky, presumably to resemble Alexander Skarsgård, who, while being incredibly handsome with a lovely smile, has a tiny overbite.

Meryl of course will play Skarsgård's mother on the show, and therefore grandmother to his and Nicole Kidman's character's (Celeste) twin boys. No word yet on when the second season will officially air on HBO.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Check out "Months of Meryl" weekly series at The Film Experience

I've been following the weekly series Months of Meryl over at The Film Experience. Two gentlemen, John and Matt, are brilliantly dissecting every single film role Meryl has been in since her debut in 1977. One or two readers of Word on the Streep have mentioned this series recently, and now that they're through the 80's, I wanted to post about it, mostly to recommend that everyone check it out.

There's been a lot written about Meryl and countless reviews of her performances. I have to imagine that both John and Matt come to this project at relative fans of Streep's work.  That said, they don't hesitate to point out where they think both she, the director or any other actor or filmmaker come up short...even way short. What I've found most enjoyable is how thoughtful and painstakingly they've managed to articulate their opinions on each film. It's way more layered and nuanced than I think I'd be capable of describing...perhaps because I'm biased by my mad interest in Meryl. After all 52 weeks are complete, I think it would be an amazing little book, with photos added of course.

I'm very much looking forward to them discussing her "wilderness years," hoping they go into a bit her rationale for staying local for filming in the early 90's.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Poll #7: Will Meryl ever win another Oscar?

For poll #7, I've gone a little bit different route. I'm asking whether readers think Meryl will ever win another Oscar. Everyone has an opinion on this, I'm sure. Off to the right you'll see the options I've provided for the poll.  One could may simply want to answer yes or no, but it's more fun to get as specific as possible in our predictions. 

I'll be the first to vote and say that yes, I think she will win another Oscar. My guess is that it'll happen sometime in her 70s or early 80s, as a sort of Katharine Hepburn in On Golden Pond moment. The older she gets, the less likely it'll be a win for a lead role, in my opinion. So with that in mind, I think the safest bet would be for a biopic. My preference of course would be in a book adaptation or original screenplay, but I'm just going off of what I think is the likeliest. 

I'm interested to see people's choices!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

More set pics from "Big Little Lies"

Meryl was spotted alongside Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman filming a scene Monterey for the new season of Big Little Lies.

A couple more pics can be seen here. No official word yet on release dates, but I'm guessing season 2 will debut on HBO around February, 2019.  

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

More casting updates for season two of "Big Little Lies"

It's been reported that Martin Donovan and Crystal Fox have been cast as Bonnie's parents in the currently-filming second season of HBO's Big Little Lies. For those who've read the book, Bonnie's (Zoë Kravitz) backstory included a history of abuse, which apparently made her perceptive to Perry's abuse of Celeste and therefore more naturally the one to push him down the stairs. There had been some speculation for a while about who might portray her parents. Many buzzed that it could be either or both of Kravitz's real parents, Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet. Alas, no relation, but it'll be nice to see a deeper look into her character in the upcoming season.

Martin Donovan
Crystal Fox

Thursday, April 5, 2018

First look at Streep in "Big Little Lies"

Nicole Kidman posted a photo to her Instagram that includes our first look at Meryl in character as Mary Louise Wright on the set of Big Little Lies.

A post shared by Nicole Kidman (@nicolekidman) on

Meryl of course plays mom to the late Perry Wright, who was portrayed by Alexander Skarsgård in the first season. She comes to Monterey concerned for the well-being of her twin grandsons. Kidman's character, Celeste, of course plays their mom.  

I have to admit that Meryl's look here is dowdier than I had expected. I thought she'd maybe look super duper posh. It's hard to tell from one photo, though. I maintain that Meryl's character will be an abused person as well, as that behavior is almost always learned. Maybe Perry's father was the same way toward Mary Louise as Perry was to Celeste?  Great character to watch Meryl unfold!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Casting updates on "Big Little Lies" season 2

Filming is of course underway on the second installment of HBO's Big Little Lies. No glimpses of Meryl on set yet. In fact, we're not even sure if any of her scenes have been shot. Considering she's a supporting character, I wonder if in her contract she's worked it out to be able to shoot all of her scenes in like two weeks or something. Or maybe just one or two days a week over the course of the filming schedule. I remember when I was an extra in A Prairie Home Companion, I showed up on a Wednesday and learned that Meryl was contracted to film only on Tuesdays. Alas, I didn't get to see her.

Yesterday, several sources had casting updates for the show. The only one I really care about is Robin Weigert, who played Dr. Amanda Reisman. Her scenes with Nicole Kidman in the first season were my absolute favorites. This may be a long shot, but I would very much enjoy if somehow in the second season Meryl's character joins Nicole's for a session with Dr. Reisman. Mind blown. Plus, it's fun that Weigert had a bit part in Angels in America, so this will be a little reunion for her and Meryl.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Meryl as Princess Leia?

Apparently there is a petition online for Meryl to be considered for a recasting of Carrie Fisher's iconic role as Princess Leia in Star Wars: Episode IX. Shooting is expected to start this summer with J.J. Abrams directing. 

This is of course a huge rumor, but it got me thinking.  First of all, at initial reaction I don't think it's a good idea. Not that I'm a rabid fan of Star Wars, but I think it would be super weird to all of a sudden see the character of Leia as anyone else, much less someone as equally iconic as Meryl Streep.  Some things are sacred.  I also happen to think that Meryl wouldn't want to touch this role with a ten foot pole, as it may be impossible to ever match the expectations of what this historic character has meant to countless people.  Not unless Streep were really desperate for work would I expect her to be up for this. 

That said, Fisher was a good friend of her's, dating back to when Meryl starred in the semi-autobiographical adaptation of Fisher's book Postcards from the Edge in 1990 (which of course earned Streep an Oscar nomination).  Also, with Meryl's recent teaming with Abrams on the potential of bringing Nathan Hill's novel The Nix to the small screen, it's possible that it's crossed his mind, were it ultimately decided that they wanted to recast the role for the final installment.

Star Wars: Episode IX is scheduled for a December, 2019 release. I doubt Meryl will be in it.  But could you imagine the attention it would bring?

Saturday, March 24, 2018

The next five years

With filming underway for season 2 of Big Little Lies, I thought I'd do one of my favorite things and post about my wishes/predictions/expectations for Meryl's upcoming filming schedule. Let's jump right in.

We already know that 2018 will bring us two feature films involving Meryl in likely rather small roles: Mama Mia! Here We Go Again July and Mary Poppins Returns in December. It's interesting that both roles are in sequels, something I don't think Meryl has ever done before, nor had I expected her to. But they're not the traditional "this film was good so let's make sure we immediately bank on the first film's success," as Mama Mia! is ten years later, and Mary Poppins over fifty. Big Little Lies is likely to release to HBO first quarter 2019, which leaves us to speculate about what roles will be in her near future.

The only other realistic possibility that has already been announced is the limited series The Nix. Nathan Hill's novel has reportedly been adapted into about nine episodes for television, but it has yet to land a distributor.  Maybe we'll see that come to fruition for filming this summer or early fall, but if J.J. Abrams is expected to direct any of the episodes, he likely won't be available until 2019, as this year he'll be busy on some obscure little indie pic called Star Wars. 

Let's say The Nix does eventually happen but that its filming is postponed to spring/summer 2019. That would likely mean a 2020 release.  Not a bad idea considering its a politically charged story and that will be an election year that is certain to have tensions running high. Call me obsessed, but I've also been thinking lately about how great it would be to see The Good House filmed for television in a limited series a la 2014's Olive Kitteridge on HBO, starring Frances McDormand. It would provide a more thorough delving into the lush character of Hildy Good, without the constraints of the two hour package typically required for film. The story would work nicely as four episodes and if were somehow already planned, could be ripe for filming this fall.

I would expect that a limited series for The Good House would release on television fourth quarter 2019, again like Olive Kitteridge. That brings us to 2019. I've previously posted how great it would be to see Meryl star in Nyad, as marathon swimmer Diana Nyad as she battles to become the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark tank. A summer/fall shooting schedule would be adequate for a summer 2020 release. A handful of Streep films have done very well in that August time slot, which, in 2020 would coincide with the summer Olympics. What better marketing tool to have for an inspirational story about a competitive swimmer?

The following two years could be relatively conventional. A lead role in a Greta Gerwig vehicle for a 2021 release, followed by a sure to be mind-blowing pairing with Jessica Lange as Edith Windsor and Streep as her wife, Thea Spyer.

The whole schedule could look something like this:

Mama Mia! Here We Go Again (July)
Mary Poppins Returns (December)

Big Little Lies (~February)--TV
The Good House (~November)--TV

The Nix (~May)--TV
Nyad (August)

Greta Gerwig project

Edith Windsor/Thea Spyer biopic with Jessica Lange

The proposed timeline would be a delightful combination of lead and supporting roles on television and in film, of biopics, literary adaptations and original stories.

Why not, right?

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Domestic box office for "The Post" tops out

After this weekend, we'll likely have our rough final numbers for the domestic box office haul for "The Post."  It's currently only in 159 theaters across the U.S., so the returns are diminishing significantly. Couple that with the fact that it didn't get much of a boost after the Oscars, as it was completely absent from the winners' list, and it's pretty easy to see where it will end up.  As this goes to post, the film has grossed $81 million on a $50m budget.  Not too shabby for a political drama with no special effects. In foreign markets it has taken in another $73m, bringing its worldwide total past $154m. It's just starting to get released in Asia, so I expect that foreign number to bounce a bit before all is said and done.

I'm not super concerned typically with major box office success just for the sake of it, but I enjoy when Meryl's films do well commercially because it means it's far more likely for projects she'd be interested in doing to get greenlit. The film will be available on digital media on April 4, with its DVD/Blu-ray release date set for April 17.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Filming begins next week on season 2 of "Big Little Lies"

Reese Witherspoon, who of course stars in and executive produces Bit Little Lies, has revealed that filming will start next Friday on season 2. To be perfectly clear, she states that they're "starting" next Friday, so I'm not exactly sure if that truly means principal photography, or just officially showing up for work and doing table reads or something. Regardless, it's exciting to know that things will be underway soon.

This news also tells me that the timing of the project means Meryl's fall should be completely open (at least in regard to filming anything), so maybe we can look forward to something being announced. Seems like the perfect opportunity to sign on for a lead film role that could be released second half of 2019.

Monday, March 5, 2018

No Oscar for Meryl and first trailer from "Mary Poppins Returns"

It's not like anyone was expecting Meryl to win, but last night she lost for the the fourth consecutive time at the Academy Award, bringing her overall total to 3-for-21. Congratulations to Frances McDormand, who, as expected, took the Best Actress prize for her performance in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. This was McDormand's second win, after 1996's Fargo.  

Streep looked amazing on the red carpet, and of course got mentioned in host Jimmy Kimmel's monologue. Hard to believe it was just under a year turnaround from when it was announced she would be starting in The Post to when the awards season wrapped up. That's some crazy quick work. The quest can now begin for Meryl's next nominated performance. My guess it will be in something she has yet to announce.

The only real upset was The Shape of Water taking Best Picture over Three Billboards. Not a huge surprise, considering Guillermo del Toro won director, while Martin McDonagh (director of Three Billboards) wasn't even nominated.

In other news, the first trailer for Mary Poppins Returns was revealed during the Oscar telecast.  It's not much more than a teaser, as we barely see Emily Blunt and none of the other main cast members except for Lin-Manuel Miranda. I hope that we get a full trailer or at least a few stills of Meryl's character Topsy within a month or two.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

My 2018 Academy Award predictions

The Oscars are on Sunday!  I'm putting this out a little early because I'll be traveling to sunny New Zealand and am not sure when I'll get a chance to post this weekend.  My choices are sort of lame because almost everyone at this point will (or at least should) have the same predictions in the picture/director and acting categories.  I'll provide my guesses for winners as well as a potential spoiler. Sad to say, Meryl will not be coming anywhere near a win this year.

Best Picture
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

alt. The Shape of Water

Best Director

Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water)

alt. Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk)

Actress in a Leading Role
Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

alt. Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water)

Actor in a Leading Role
Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour)

alt. Timothée Chalamet (Call Me by Your Name)

Actress in a Supporting Role
Allison Janney (I, Tonya)

alt. Laurie Metcalf (Lady Bird)

Actor in a Supporting Role
Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

alt. Willem Dafoe (The Florida Project)

To be honest, I'll be really surprised if any of the above six picks don't win.  For a race that seemed rather open only two months ago, this now seems like one of the most predictable seasons in recent memory.

Happy watching!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Results of poll #6

Poll #6 is closed and the overwhelming choice for whom people would like to see Meryl star with as a co-lead is none other than the great Cate Blanchett. I guess it's not that surprising...arguably the two greatest actresses working today.  Who wouldn't be interested in seeing them pair up? Jessica Lange came in a distant second (whom I voted for). I think it would be really interesting to see those two team for a biopic of Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer (Streep as Spyer). In third we have Sigourney Weaver. I've actually thought that she or Jodi Foster would be good choices to play best friend Bonnie Stoll, were Streep to take the title role in the Blacklist script Nyad. 

Sins of omission from the list options: Helen Mirren, Judi Dench and Kathy Bates. 

There were a few great suggestions for the next poll.  Any others?  These might be my favorite posts.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Let's talk about..."Big Little Lies"

OK, I'm doing something a little bit different with this post. I realize that Meryl has yet to even shoot a single scene for HBO's series Bit Little Lies, but it's been a year and a half since I've posted in this section and have been wanting to discuss her upcoming role as Mary Louise Wright. With that in mind, for those of you who've seen the show, I'm interested to hear both your thoughts on the first season as well as any ideas or predictions for next year's. I re-watched all seven episodes with a friend on Sunday just to refresh my memory on the story.

Yesterday, several articles were released with quotes from both Nicole Kidman and Laura Dern about how excited they are for Meryl to join the cast. We don't know a ton about Streep's character, other than that she's playing the late Perry Wright's mother, Mary Louise, who comes to Monterey concerned for her grandchildren and looking for answers about the nature of son's death. There's a possibility of flashback scenes, which means Alexander Skarsgård may return for a few episodes. We can also expect some conflict with Kidman's character, Celeste, as apparently the two had a contemptuous relationship at times as mother and daughter-in-law.

Kidman is quoted in the articles from Wednesday as saying that both she and Reese Witherspoon ead the script for season two and thought Streep would be wonderful in the part. Let's not forget that author Liane Moriarty wrote the character with Meryl in mind. Knowing that domestic abuse is often an evil passed down from generation to generation, will Mary Louise be a survivor as well? Will it be a situation where Mary Louise resents her daughter-in-law for not being able to "handle" an abusive husband like she did? Will she be in denial about her son or will she accept the fact that in reality he was a monster and ultimately show empathy for Celeste?

Can't wait.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Poll #6: With which actress would you most like Meryl to star as co-leads in a film?

Hey folks. It's been a while since I've done a poll, so off to the right you'll see the latest. I've always enjoyed when Meryl's sort of "buddy" projects with her contemporaries. Diane Keaton in Marvin's Room or Goldie Hawn in Death Becomes Her, for example. I thought I'd see what people's interests are on whom they'd most like to see Meryl star alongside as co-lead in a movie. The actresses I've chosen are mostly in her age demographic, realizing that Blanchett, Foster and Davis are a bit younger.  And don't give me crap about Oprah. The world would flip if they did a big film together. 

Happy voting!

Friday, February 2, 2018

Update on box office totals for "The Post"

The Post is entering its fourth weekend in wide release. To date, the film has earned about $62 million at the domestic box office and $24m foreign, for a worldwide total of about $85m. This weekend already has estimates for another $6m, which would bring its U.S. total close to $68m.  Against a budget of $50m, these are decent receipts. I've read that a film typically needs to make at least 2-2.5 times its budget to actually see profits, as marketing and other costs I probably don't fully understand factor in greatly. Overall though, I imagine that 20th Century Fox is pleased with the results.

What I like most about the fact that the film should have no problem getting over $75m domestic is that it reinforces Meryl as a financial draw for films. Of course I like that good numbers also show that people are actually showing up to her films too, but I care more that it keeps doors open for projects to get greenlit for production.  I remember reading that after The Devil Wears Prada, Meryl was "besieged" with offers due to the film's success, which is apparently what got Julie & Julia off the ground. 

With her only future projects at this point being for TV (Big Little Lies and The Nix), it's exciting to look forward to, and of course speculate on, what might be her next big role for the silver screen.  

Any guesses?

Friday, January 26, 2018

Second trailer for "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again"

A new trailer was released yesterday for Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, and it somehow seems that Meryl is in the film even less than the original trailer suggested?

It's now an established fact that Meryl basically has only a cameo in this second installment.  I wasn't a huge fan of the first film, other than the fact that it made a shit ton of money which always helps getting future projects greenlit, so I'm not super bummed.  That said, Here We Go Again actually looks like it might be a better-made movie? God bless Phyllida Lloyd, as the pair of Mamma Mia! and The Iron Lady were both historical successes in  Meryl's career trajectory, but she's not exactly an auteur.  I'll see the film regardless of course.

What's interesting is that likely the next three screen projects we have from Meryl are essentially sequels to what were very successful originals: Mamma Mia!, Mary Poppins and Big Little Lies. I've maintained that Meryl would be averse to sequels, and I think that's still the case, actually, as the deterrent is more about returning to the same character than it is about the project itself.  The only real return to the same character is in Here We Go Again, and as we're learning, that's barely a drop in the ocean.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Streep joins "Big Little Lies" for season 2

Hot off the news that Meryl earned her (own) record-breaking 21st Academy Award nomination yesterday, HBO announced this afternoon that Streep would be joining the cast of their ratings and awards juggernaut, Big Little Lies for season 2.

I'm dying. I absolutely LOVED this show. I watched the entire first installment, then intended to be a limited series, in a single day last summer and thought it was one of the best I'd ever seen. Now that they've picked it up for a second season, apparently the mother of abusive Perry Wright has been added into the mix, which is the role that Meryl is set to play. Interestingly, the character's name is Mary Louise, which happens to be Meryl's real name.

From what I can gather, Mary Louise comes to Monterey looking for answers after her son's death. No doubt we'll get to see Meryl in some great scenes with Nicole Kidman. There's no official word yet on whether there will be any flashback scenes with Perry (played by Alexander Skarsgård), but I'll bet Skarsgård is hoping to high heaven there are, as he'd get to share the screen with the queen.

I'm not sure when filming is set to begin, but I imagine sometime this spring or summer. The second season will air sometime in 2019.  Curious to see if we get any updates on The Nix as well. If so, it could be quite the couple of years at the Emmys.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Streep earns 21st Academy Award nomination for "The Post"

Whew. As the nominations were unfolding, I was getting pretty nervous about a snub with how things were shaping up for the The Post. Thankfully, Meryl's named was announced in the Lead Actress category and she received her 21st Oscar nomination for her performance as Katharine Graham. The only other nomination the film received was Best Picture.

To be honest, I'm not super surprised by the total tally for the film. I think it's a wonderful movie and should've been recognized in additional categories, but this was a very strong year for quality films and The Post was late out of the gate. And they'll be able to use the Best Actress and Best Picture nominations as a marketing tool to boost the box office over the coming weeks.

Ultimately, it ended up being the consensus five in the Best Actress category, as Meryl was joined by the following four women:

Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water)
Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
Margot Robbie (I, Tonya)
Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird)

Couple of small surprises in the acting categories: Denzel Washington getting in Best Actor over James Franco, Three Billboards getting two for Supporting Actor (meaning none for Call Me by Your Name) and Leslie Manville getting in over Holly Hunter in Supporting Actress.

Perhaps the most interesting snub of the morning, however, is that of director Martin McDonagh (Three Billboards). After its strong showings at the Globes and SAGs, it had sort of established itself as the Best Picture frontrunner.  The film received a lot of love in other categories, but it's pretty rare that a film that ends of winning Best Picture is absent in the Best Director category. I believe Argo was the last time that happened (maybe only time?).  Happy for Greta Gerwig, as she was nommed in both director and original screenplay.

The full list of nominees can be seen here, and the awards ceremony will be held on Sunday, March 4.  It's a little later this year due to coverage of the Olympics.

Congrats, Meryl!

Monday, January 22, 2018

Predicting Meryl's Oscar chances

Academy Award nominations will of course be announced tomorrow morning, and Meryl is in the running for her 21st nod. Only a year ago at this time, she had no definitive projects in the pipeline for 2017 until it was announced in March that Steven Spielberg would direct her in The Post. The film is currently in its second week in wide release, and is already up to $45 million domestically. Were it to snag a few Oscar noms, it would be a helpful little marketing tool.

So what do we think the likelihood of Meryl getting nominated is? To the casual observer, it seems like a foregone conclusion: prominent director, biopic, captures political zeitgeist, best reviews Meryl's received for a lead role since The Iron Lady, 88% on Rotten Tomatoes/Metacritic score of 83, promising box office. Streep has gotten in for a lot less. How could she possibly miss this year?

One of the reasons it may be tough is the fact that there are so many wonderful performances this year in equally wonderful films. Frances McDormand, Sally Hawkins, Saoirse Ronan, Jessica Chastain, Margot Robbie, Judi Dench, Annette Bening, Michelle Williams. There's a lot of competition and Meryl isn't exactly the fresh new face on the scene. Another reason is that she's been relatively absent from recognition among most critics groups this season. Yes, she received the National Board of Review Award, but other prominent voting bodies have rarely even included her among their top five. Not that this has necessarily stopped her before, just see Into the Woods and August: Osage County. Most pundits I've read have Meryl predicted in their top five, but generally toward the bottom of the list. 

Maybe I'm being paranoid, as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has historically been rather fond of Meryl's work. And if I'm being realistic, imagining the actors' body of the Academy, with their preferential ballots, having Meryl so low on their lists that she would place no higher than sixth overall?  That seems unlikely.  Ultimately, I'm predicting the following five, which seem to be the general consensus among Best Actress contenders at this point:

Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water)
Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
Margot Robbie (I, Tonya)
Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird)
Meryl Streep (The Post)

Regardless of whether or not Meryl is nominated or snubbed, her performance as Katharine Graham is exquisite and will be remembered as one of her finest.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

SAG winners predictions 2018

Although Meryl (and The Post) were completely shut out for SAG nominations this year, I'm still going to post my predictions in the film acting categories. One of the joys of this year's race is how competitive each category is, as there are multiple "frontrunners," but the certainty of any one win is less secure than an year in recent memory.

Outstanding Cast
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

alt: Get Out

Female Actor in a Leading Role
Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

alt: Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water)

Male Actor in a Leading Role
Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour)

alt: Timothée Chalamet (Call Me by Your Name)

Female Actor in Supporting Role
Allison Janney (I, Tonya)

alt: Laurie Metcalf (Lady Bird)

Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

alt: Willem Dafoe (The Florida Project)

If my predictions turn out right, Three Billboards will position itself as the strong frontrunner in several Oscar categories, including Best Picture.  Academy Award nominations are announced Tuesday starting at 8:22 EST.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Film review: "The Post" (2017)

It's hard to believe that it was only twelve months ago when after having read a copy of the Hollywood Blacklist script, The Post, that I blogged about what a fine opportunity I thought it would be for Meryl to play the film's central character, publisher Katharine Graham.  Fast forward two months later, and it's announced that Steven Spielberg had signed on to direct, with Streep and Tom Hanks set to star. The film was fast-tracked into production and with filming wrapped by July, here we are at the movie's nationwide opening weekend. And what a weekend it's likely going to be.

Last night, I joined my friend Scooter for a 6:40 showing of The Post, not far from my home in Minneapolis. Despite the subzero temperatures, it was the busiest I've ever seen the large theater complex, with folks forced to wait in line after purchasing their tickets just to get inside the main area. It was nice to see that our theater was completely full.

The film starts out with a brief background on the Vietnam War, setting up the conflict that would engulf the film's plot, about whether or not the Washington Post should publish classified documents from a study that were leaked from the Pentagon. In the papers, the folly of the U.S.'s involvement is explained in some detail. Matthew Rhys (whom I adore from The Americans) gets some nice screen time here as former military analyst, Daniel Ellsberg.

Meryl of course portrays Graham, who at this time in her life and career is less than confident in her role as the paper's publisher, a role that had essentially become hers by default after her father's death and husband's suicide. The acquisition of the Pentagon Papers puts her in a tricky situation, as an injunction from the White House threatens disaster. As we all know, the Supreme Court sides with the paper and the publishing is allowed to continue.

OK, now that a brief plot synopsis is out of the way, let's get to some aspects of the film's quality. Both Scooter and I really enjoyed it and remarked at how quickly it went by, with the suspenseful pace always keeping us on the edge our seats. Meryl does an exquisite job of showing us the significant lack of confidence and almost paralyzing trepidation Graham had at making big decisions that often involved the viability of her company. Being that the paper was tied up with the history of her family, and that many on the board weren't convinced as a woman she was suitable for the job, decisions surrounding the company's fate were particularly taxing. How she transitioned throughout the movie into a decisive boss was enjoyable to experience. It was by no means a broad or showy performance.  Instead, it was measured, subtle and touching. In the original version of the script I had read, there was a moving speech that she gave in front of the court which I was looking forward to seeing, but sadly was either cut after filming, or cut completely from the screenplay. I wonder if it seemed a bit too "on the nose" to keep in the film.

Tom Hanks similarly does a fine job as editor Ben Bradlee. A lot of people have complained about Hanks's somewhat affected speech patterns in the role, but I never felt distracted by his choices, and thought his moments were Meryl were strong and at times funny. A standout was Bob Odenkirk as journalist Ben Bagdikian, who manged to acquire the papers from Daniel Ellsberg and was instrumental in the ultimate decision to publish.

Regular Spielberg collaborator Janusz Kaminski provided an aura of the 1970s with an almost glossy effect in many scenes, highlighting the smoke-filled, often neutral tones of that era. John Williams's rousing score contributes to the sort of time-crunch angst we feel in their race against the clock. And there's probably not much left to say that hasn't been said about Spielberg. While the film is often intense and fast-paced, we get a real sense of intimacy with the characters and their struggle through the grueling and likely terrifying process of first acquiring the papers, deciphering them and then waiting to learn their fates in the aftermath of publishing. Scooter and I both enjoyed and appreciated the shots of how a newspaper is physically pulled together in the shop for each printing. For something that is as ubiquitous as a daily paper, that was a process neither of us had ever really seen before on screen.

The film is a perfect allegory to the preposterous political environment in which we currently find ourselves. Using real recordings of phone conversations of former president Richard Nixon was a painful comparison to what is so evident in today's administration and its constant attacks on the free press. The Post was an important reminder that the first amendment right of free speech is excellently demonstrated in journalistic integrity. As justice Hugo Black opined in the Supreme Court's 6-3 ruling, "in the First Amendment, the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors."

I'm glad Meryl was able to participate in the making of this movie.


Saturday, January 13, 2018

A brief update on "The Nix"

A few days ago, I came across a radio interview author Nathan Hill gave for a local station in Florida last week, and in it, he discusses the upcoming limited series project for the The Nix. Starting at 49:00, he and the interviewer discuss the stage the project is in and development of it. I'm posting about it because the script now seems to be nailed down to nine episodes (which is news), but the part that discouraged me a bit was that they're apparently still searching for a distributor.

Now, "searching for a distributor" could mean several things. Recall that in September I posted about the possibility that The Nix had been picked up by Amazon, as it was listed as a project in development for the studio when they announced plans for their 2018 production spending. It's possible that there is more than one company interested, and that they're hashing out whom to choose. That's probably wishful thinking, but with the nature of the novel's story and the fact that Hill is still discussing it in a manner that suggests it's very much alive, I'm optimistic for chances of production getting underway this year.

With Meryl producing, this would potentially be an interesting scenario were the limited series to gain awards traction, not unlike the situation we've seen this year with Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman in their promotion and discussion of their exceptional show Bit Little Lies. We just need someone to say "here's the money. Now go film it!"

ps-I'm seeing The Post tonight and am of course agog.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

"The Post" shut out at BAFTA

Like the SAG nominations last month, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts has left The Post bereft of nominations. To be honest, I almost forgot about these nominations being announced, since I had no expectations for Meryl getting in, but it's never good when your film is completely shut out.

Couple things to think about, though. The top four ladies I'd expect to get noms for Lead Actress from almost any body (Sally Hawkins, Frances McDormand, Margot Robbie and Saoirse Ronan) did. The shock to me was that Judi Dench (Victoria & Abdul), a favorite with BAFTA and already a nominee at the Globes and SAG, was passed over in favor of Annette Bening for Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool. Despite the miss, I think this bodes well for Meryl for a few reasons: if Dench can't get in at BAFTA, she's far less likely to get in with AMPAS (Academy Awards). Also, Bening, like Dench, is in a British film, which tends to help. We should remember that The Post is a decidedly American film that likely was seen by fewer voting members of BAFTA due to its late release, and it doesn't open in U.K. theaters until next week.

All that might be a bit of rationalizing, but I'm also trying to stay positive for Meryl's chances at a 21st Oscar nomination. I still think it'll happen, but I have to admit I'm a little nervous. Her many television appearances this week (Kimmel, Ellen, Graham Norton) should hopefully help boost box office a bit, with the film going wide in the U.S. this weekend.  I have plans to see it on Saturday evening.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

2018 Golden Globe predictions

It's really difficult to call winter my least favorite season, because it includes possibly my favorite period of the year: awards season! Tomorrow night, the Hollywood Foreign Press will hand out their Golden Globe Awards for achievement in film and television.  As usual, I enjoy predicting the winners in the acting categories.  Check out the starred(*) names below among the nominees for my winners selections.

Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama
1. Timothée Chalamet (Call Me by Your Name)
2. Daniel Day Lewis (Phantom Thread)
3. Tom Hanks (The Post)
4, Gary Oldman* (Darkest Hour)
5. Denzel Washington (Roman J. Israel, Esq.)

Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama
1. Jessica Chastain (Molly's Game)
2. Sally Hawkins* (The Shape of Water)
3. Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
4. Meryl Streep (The Post)
5. Michelle Williams (All the Money in the World)

Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
1. Steve Carell (Battle of the Sexes)
2. Ansel Elgort (Baby Driver)
3. James Franco (The Disaster Artist)
4. Hugh Jackman (The Greatest Showman)
5. Daniel Kaluuya* (Get Out)

Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
1. Judi Dench (Victoria and Abdul)
2. Helen Mirren (The Leisure Seeker)
3. Margot Robbie (I, Tonya)
4. Saoirse Ronan* (Lady Bird)
5. Emma Stone (Battle of the Sexes)

Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture 
1. Willem Dafoe* (The Florida Project)
2. Armie Hammer (Call Me by Your Name)
3. Richard Jenkins (The Shape of Water)
4. Christopher Plummer (All the Money in the World)
5. Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
1. Mary J. Blige (Mudbound)
2. Hong Chau (Downsizing)
3. Allison Janney (I, Tonya)
4. Laurie Metcalf* (Lady Bird)
5. Octavia Spencer (The Shape of Water)\

In my opinion, this is by far the best chance Meryl has at picking up a major televised award this year. The Post was completely shut out at SAG, and it's not even a foregone conclusion that she will get an Oscar nomination. But the HFPA love her, and if she were to come away with a win in this category tomorrow, I'll relax a little in regard to her chances for a nom. Let's not forget her speech last year at the ceremony (see clip below)? She is in a film about the importance of a free press, and they might want to reward her.

For the other categories, I would not be surprised is Frances McDormand, James Franco or Christopher Plummer won. I think the entire rest of the season for Supporting Actress will come down to Metcalf and Janney (with Metcalf likely taking Oscar). I'm probably out on a limb a bit with Daniel Kaluuya, but right now it just sort of feels right.  I'd love to see Timothée Chalamet make the upset, and I think Margot Robbie is a distant second behind Saoirse Ronan.

Super excited for Sunday!