Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Addendum to recasting--Part IV (1991): "The Silence of the Lambs"

One of my all-time favorites. Thinking back, I can't believe I watched this for the first time when I was twelve years-old. Knowing my parents, if we had sat down to watch something on HBO, for example, and this movie came on, I have no doubt they would not have let me continue watching at that age. But curious kids are curious kids, and I was aware of the films box-office success even way back then. When I saw it listed in the TV guide as being broadcast on cable, you better believe I tuned in, alone in the privacy of our basement. I remember my dad eventually knew I'd seen it, as my cousin and I asked him what the c-word was. He wasn't exactly thrilled, but he didn't put up much of a fuss. I ended up recording the film on our VCR

I imagine some readers may be wondering, "Are you suggesting Meryl for the role of special agent Clarice Starling? But she's too old!" The answer is yes. As this is possibly my favorite movie, and absolutely consider it one of a handful that most shaped my love of cinema (and no doubt my morbid fascination with serial murderers), I really wanted to include it among my recasting selections. To do that, I have to suggest some changes to the iconic character originated by Jodie Foster. Namely, her age. Hear me out. 

We know that one of the main features of Clarice in The Silence of the Lambs is that she's a young FBI trainee. Someone likely in her twenties. Inexperienced. Smart, but unsure. It's an important part of the dynamic between her and the super sophisticated nuance of Dr. Hannibal Lecter (played brilliantly by the great Sir Anthony Hopkins). But what if we imagine the character was, say, 35--nearing the cutoff point at which candidates will no longer be considered for becoming an agent for the FBI. Meryl would've been 40 at the time this movie filmed in the fall of 1989 (its release was pushed to early '91, as Orion Pictures wanted to focus its awards attention on another little film they had in their quiver that year, Dances with Wolves). So, absolutely no issue with Meryl playing 35. For whatever reason, I picture her character having a ponytail and bangs. Seems like it would make her appear a bit younger. And if we consider the history we learn about from Clarice, where she becomes an orphan and runs away from a relative's ranch and is then sent to an orphanage, it might be an even more compelling history if it took longer for her to scrape up the means for college at UVA (perhaps having to work and go to night school over the course of six to eight years), to then work her way up to the training academy. That might be more of an accomplishment. The stakes would higher with her working against the clock a bit in regard to age. But not so long in the tooth that she'd lose that important sense of innocence and "greenness" Clarice needs. What a fun prospect to imagine Meryl working to convey all that. 

One of the most memorable scenes in cinematic history. And I'm not sure if Meryl has done a West Virginian accent quite like this one--always fun to consider. While this film is arguably very character-driven, the aspects of a genre film are in there. Many would classify it as a true horror film, or a psychological thriller. Meryl's never quite done something as edgy as Silence of the Lambs was for its time. The movie was an example of how a film released early in the year could actually do well at the Oscars. And that it did, winning the top five (Picture, Director, Actress, Actor, and Screenplay--only It Happened One Night and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest managed to do that previously, and none have since). It was also a major box-office success, with a worldwide gross of $273 million against only a $19 million budget. 

I will say that while I maintain that this film is brilliant, I wonder if it would be as well-received today. The character of Buffalo Bill doesn't exactly show transgender individuals in the greatest of lights. I understand that even Dr. Lecter explains that Buffalo Bill isn't a "real transsexual," yet it's a little difficult to look back on this picture and not sort of get the impression of transgender folks having been depicted as a bit crazy. Some may think it's not a great look when gender identity is obliquely utilized as a tool to showcase creepy characters. I don't tend to view it quite that severely, but it's worth mentioning the film isn't a perfect picture. Although it's nice to see a woman lead in a movie who doesn't have a romantic relationship as part of the story--hopefully that's not negated by the gruesome fact that the story follows a killer of women. But it's sort of representative of the types of films Jodie Foster seemed to gravitate toward. 

In the end, I think this could've been an incredibly exciting role and story to see interpreted through Meryl's characterization. Next week, I'll "officially" wrap up this recasting series when I take on a lighter film from the summer of 1992. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Addendum to recasting--Part III (1990): "Dances with Wolves"

Way back in 2012, I bemoaned in my inaugural post of the Shoulda Coulda Wouldas tag how much I wished I could've seen Meryl tackle the role of Stands with a Fist from Dances with Wolves. I ended up including this film in my Reimagined history of her career. As I've mentioned in earlier posts in this recasting project, I've realized that the Shoulda Coulda Wouldas section has turned out to be the well from which I sort of designate roles into my two 'alternative' careers I like to imagine Streep having. I think Dances with Wolves ultimately fits better into my recasting project. 

Like the two previous choices from this recasting addendum, Dances with Wolves holds a prominent place in my memory as one of the films that helped shaped my interest in cinema. It's for this reason that I didn't wait for my supporting role recasting project to include this pic. I'm not sure if I saw it for the first time today if I would regard the film as highly as I do. But it's next to impossible to accurately gauge the answer to such a question when I've held such nostalgic fondness for this film over the years.

I first saw the movie shortly after it was released to home video. I would've been around eleven or twelve at the time. It's interesting how depending on what's going on in our lives at any given point, certain experiences can have memorable impact. We may not notice or realize it at the time, but looking back, what I saw on the screen in this movie was a community I'd learned about and thought about, but never really seen depicted in such a vivid way. I'd spent a lot of time in the north woods area of Minnesota growing up, where Native American influence and culture was obvious even to my young eyes. I can remember visiting a place called Deep Portage, a wilderness learning center, and was fascinated by the stories and replicas of the indigenous peoples' way of life. The focus was more on the Ojibwe people, not the Sioux (I say "Sioux," as that it what they call themselves in the film--I suspect Lakota is a more accurate term, while Sioux includes more than one group of people and language), but regardless, when I saw Dances with Wolves, it was like my curiosity had been brought to life in the form of a sweeping epic. 

The actual role of Stands with a Fist is of course a fascinating one. Not that the idea of a white child taken in and raised by Native Americans was a brand new idea. But the position she finds herself in, having to try to translate for her tribe and adoptive father, all while still in mourning from the passing of her own husband, offers a juicy start to the character's arc.

So many emotions to convey in just this one scene. Fear, frustration, sadness, surprise. Maybe a glint of attraction. Mary McDonnell does a tremendous job here. I remember seeing an interview with director/star Kevin Costner about the movie, where he states that he specifically wanted an actress for the role who "had lines on her face." Meryl is only three years older than McDonnell, and easily could've portrayed this character form an age standpoint. Then of course there's the fun aspect of language she would've gotten to tackle. Not only having to sound like you speak fluent Lakota, but also figuring out what the character would sound like in English! She hadn't spoken it since she was a child, and I think it's so fascinating to imagine how much we would lose if we didn't use it. When we started to try to recall words, which parts would come back to us? Certainly not always automatically the first syllables. I think Meryl would've dug deep into the nature of how all that would begin to resurface. 

I've read some items over the years that this film is just another white savior movie. It think that's a bit of a copout. If anything, I think it's the Native Americans who save the white guy. I can remember even as child never once considering that the white folks' way of life in this film was in any way superior to that of the Sioux people. I'm also not naive to the fact that the Sioux are almost depicted as a utopian society in this movie, which certainly is not historically factual. But they're probably closer to it than any of the cities in the United States during and around the time of The Civil War. 

Regardless of any of the historical considerations, Dances with Wolves is and will remain a special movie for me. With its broad, beautiful landscape, convincing performances, and endlessly engaging musical score, I know I'll continue to revisit it in the future. 

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Looks like no Ari Aster film for Meryl

Not the kind of news I want to see on Meryl's birthday! I'm always sad to learn that fun-sounding projects she's rumored for turn out not to include her. Deadline reported some casting news for Ari Aster's film with Joaquin Phoenix, Disappointment Blvd., and Streep's name was nowhere to be found. Patti LuPone is listed as co-starring, so there's a very strong possibility that the role for which Meryl's name was floated had gone to her instead. 

It's too bad. Would've loved to see Meryl work alongside Phoenix. And Aster would likely be a departure in tone from a lot of the stuff we usually see Meryl in. Maybe she couldn't do this because she's actually going to be too busy filming Babylon or Places, Please. Either way, hopefully we get official word that she's shooting something very soon. 

Happy 72nd, Meryl! 

Monday, June 21, 2021

Filming for "Babylon" set for July

There was a tweet posted recently that Damien Chazelle's upcoming film Babylon will be filming in the Santa Clarita Valley in California in July:

I post this because we still have no confirmation of whether or not Meryl will be part of the cast. Her name was floated over a year ago, but nothing has been updated since. Considering filming is supposed to commence within the next few weeks, even if Streep is not in fact going to be in the cast, I expect there should be some news on who will be playing Elinor Glyn (unless for some reason they've cut the role, which I doubt). 

Streep is also set to film Places, Please this summer, and there was also a rumor of her joining Joaquin Phoenix in an Ari Aster film. To be honest, I'll be surprised if she ends up in even two of these projects, much less all three. But one can hope!

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

"The Devil Wears Prada" turns 15

 Fifteen years ago this month, The Devil Wears Prada was released in U.S. theaters. While the film was a great critical and commercial success, more importantly, it represented a shift in Meryl's career that many believe skyrocketed her into a level of reverence that no other actress of her generation had ever been able to achieve. She earned her fourteenth Oscar nomination, and at the age of 57 had found herself an enormous box office draw. In only the five years after the film was release, Meryl enjoyed huge hits like Mamma Mia!, Julie & Julia, and It's Complicated, as well as three additional Oscar nominations (winning of course for 2011's The Iron Lady). 

It's difficult to overstate how important the success of this film was to the next decade of Meryl's career. Her name alone got films green-lit. And not just because she was a good actor. But because studios expected that she would make them money. That success continues to this day, much in part to how well The Devil Wears Prada was received. To commemorate the film's anniversary, the cast, director David Frankel, and costume designer Patricia Field sat down over a Zoom call with Entertainment Weekly to discuss the film's legacy. Some fun stuff packed into this 30-minute video. Enjoy. 

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Addendum to recasting--Part II (1989): "The Abyss"

Meryl hasn't really done a good sci-fi pic. Yes, there's The Giver, but that ended up being kind of a stinker. I had included Close Encounters of the Third Kind in the early stages of my recasting project, but inserted her into a supporting role. I'm reminded of Sigourney Weaver's legacy as an action star, having starred in the Alien series, the second of which (Aliens) was directed by James Cameron. I never really got into that movie, but from a young age, I absolutely loved both of his Terminator films, as well as 1989's underwater flick, The Abyss. There's something about the latter film that really captures the feel of what I liked about action movies at the time. There was a fair amount of technology utilized, and the setting was something we'd never really seen before at that level. Yet at the same time, we also get some intimacy and complexity surrounding the close-knit cast of characters who are thrust into the tumultuous scenario driving the film's more entertaining scenes. 

The film follows a crew oil workers who are tasked by the government to aid a SEAL team in recovering a nuclear warhead at the bottom of the ocean. Dr. Lindsey Brigman is the designer of the drilling platform utilized as a base for the operation. It's a bit of a tired trope to have the lady professional depicted as the queen bitch of the universe. But it's probably a fun character to play. Someone who's smarter than everyone else in the room and doesn't suffer fools or a slow pace. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (such a name from the 80s) does a fine job in the role, if perhaps a bit one level in the first half of the film. There are some fun moments of tension and humor between her soon-to-be ex-husband, Bud (Ed Harris), who's the foreman of the rig. 

One of the most memorable moments of cinema from my childhood was watching Lindsey's drowning scene. After Lindsey and Bud are left with only one oxygen tank in a rapidly flooding sub, Lindsey insists Bud use it so he can drag her hypothermic body back to the rig and resuscitate her.

Watching it as an adult, it's a tad far-fetched. From my understanding, using an automated external defibrillator is generally only indicated when someone's heart is beating irregularly, not to "shock it back" to life. CPR would be the usual approach, which they do implement here as well. Some definite artistic license here, but played well for dramatic effect. It's a powerful scene and beautifully acted. The actors create a great sense of collegiality in their reactions to Lindsey eventually coming around. I have to imagine drowning would be one of the most horrible ways to die. The feeling of having to finally take in a breath and only having water enter your lungs? Super scary. And it feels super scary for Lindsey in this scene. Would've been fun to see how Meryl played it. I did tend to wonder why Lindsey didn't seem more affected after the fact, considering Bud was basically beating the shit out of her when she lay there on the submersible deck. Her ribs and chest would've been so sore, I imagine it would've made her ability to speak normally very difficult in the days following. Lindsey seems to have recovered pretty well when she's guiding Bud down the Cayman Trough, based on the way Mastrantonio plays it. 

This film is so stamped in my mind as sort of encapsulating the feel of several movies in the genre around the late 80s and early 90s. Terminator 2: Judgement Day is a big one, as I eluded above, Die Hard, even Rocky IV, with its capitalizing on Cold War tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union (although interesting that The Abyss is set in 1994 when there actually was no longer such a thing as the U.S.S.R.).  I don't know if it was just a style around the time, or maybe that The Abyss has so many scenes underwater, but everything has a blue-like tinge to it, particularly in scenes without natural lighting, that seem very reminiscent of the time. It's easy to forget that The Abyss isn't just an action film. There's an alien marine life that ends up saving Bud at the bottom of the ocean. Some of the greatest special effects for the time were employed for this film (it won the Oscar for it that year), particularly the face-mimicking water formation into which the alien choses to take shape. The idea of there being technology that allows humans to breathe water to minimize the effects of the oceans pressure was always a cool prospect to think about, even as an adult. 

It's interesting that in Meryl's real filmography, 1989 marked a very distinct shift in the type of movie in which we usually saw her. She-Devil may have some fun tidbits, but in general, it's not a strong movie. This was the first time Streep took on a true comedy role, which she ended up doing more of over the next few years in the early 90s. I wonder if she had taken the risk of participating in something like The Abyss, would it have resulted in a major difference in what we could've expected from her shortly afterward, or what she would've been offered? The Abyss wasn't a huge box-office success, but it did fairly well with critics, and I think it's often considered an underrated movie these days. From what I've read, filming under James Cameron was extremely difficult for the cast. But maybe it could've been the same kind of physical toil Meryl had to endure when she learned how to white water raft in 1994's The River Wild. I'd take her in The Abyss over that or She-Devil any day. 

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Addendum to recasting--Part I (1988): "Bluegrass"

As I mentioned at the end of my final "official" selection of this project, I'm going to add a series of five entries that sort of encapsulate what has historically appealed to me about cinema. The more I think and write about Meryl Streep's career on screen, the more I'm reminded of how I got here. It's no accident how I ended up latching on to someone who's able to portray such a wide variety of characters. In Meryl, I get to vicariously experience worlds that I, almost without realizing, have loved imagining from an early age. 

The fact that many of the films that have shaped my taste in cinema also happen to showcase interesting and complex women is also probably not a surprise, considering where my interests obviously lie now. The 1988 CBS miniseries, Bluegrass, is one such example. Directed by Simon Wincer (Free Willy), I was eight at the time this was released, and from my first viewing I was in love. When it was replayed a couple of years later, after my family had acquired its first VCR, I managed to realize it in time to record the second half. I damn near wore that tape out over the years. Not until well into my 30s, perhaps after finding a clip on YouTube, did I acquire a bootleg DVD copy woefully transferred from VHS. The scenes from part one were surprisingly fresh in my memory. 

I should probably clarify that this miniseries didn't necessarily shape my taste in movies, so much as it was one of the things I watched over and over. Maybe it's more accurate that my interest in it more showcased what I liked, and the kind of lives I enjoyed seeing captured on screen. To some degree, I've found in looking back that it's often what I think I've enjoy about seeing such a wide variety of people and worlds portrayed in Streep films. In Bluegrass, we follow Maude Breen, a widow who heads back to her native Kentucky to get a fresh start. She buys a rundown farm and is considered a bit of an outsider, as her neighbor is a high-profile thoroughbred breeder and judge (Wayne Rogers), who also just happens to be someone who tried to rape her as a teen. She sparks a romance with her alcoholic farm manager (Brian Kerwin), and navigates a love triangle involving him and a charming Irishman (Anthony Andrews--bizarrely with an English accent), who ends up almost destroying her farm by introducing a diseased mare into the fold. 

It was all very sophisticated to my young brain. I've watched it multiple times as an adult (still waiting for a high-quality version) and that sense of adult intrigue has of course softened a bit. But I still think it's a very entertaining and well-acted production for network television in the 80s. No doubt there's a nostalgic aspect in it for me. It does hearken back to the tropes of wealth and excess so often displayed in that decade (thinking Dallas and Dynasty), though Bluegrass feels less crass about it, even to this day. 

I always thought Cheryl Ladd was so pretty. And Brian Kerwin is a dreamboat. I'm reminded of the great supporting turn of Mickey Rooney. Also that of Diane Ladd (no relation), who although not shown in the video, has some of the best one-liners among the large cast of characters. There are next to no clips out there of this film, but in these few scenes, we get to see a bit of the moxie in Maude's character. It's perhaps a bit overdone on occasion, but I like the conflicts of her trying to hold her own in a very male-dominated world. That wasn't necessarily depicted with regularity at the time. Of course there was like zero chance Meryl was ever going to star in something like this. And I don't think it's realistic to imagine she ever would've if the timing had just been right. That doesn't stop me from the imagining how she may have interpreted certain scenes, perhaps adding her two cents in regard to certain aspects of the script where she could've imbued some more complexity or gravitas to the character and her history. She also would've gotten to ride horses and try her hat at a Kentucky accent. It's a shame the series didn't garner any strong critical or awards attention. Although Wincer is credited with bolstering the popularity of the miniseries with his following year's highly successful project, Lonesome Dove

These days, I tend to think horse racing is a bit of a barbaric business. More and more we hear about animals having to be euthanized on the track due to injury. Of course I didn't think about things like that at the time Bluegrass was released. And I still like to tune in the first Saturday of May each year to watch the two most exciting minutes in sports. For years I collected model horses, which as an adult seems WAY gayer than I ever considered as a preteen. My interest was boosted when my uncle bought a pair of Arabians for his farm, and he arranged for some riding lessons for me and my cousins. I'm not sure if the series was really the catalyst for an interest in horses, or more that I watched it on repeat because the interest was already there. Either way, I'm still drawn to the allure of that gentile setting depicted on the ranches of Bluegrass. Does anyone reading this know someone at CBS who can finally get us a decent-quality copy to view? If so, kindly send them my way. 

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Recasting 2020: "Nomadland"

Exactly one year ago today, I posted my first selection in this recasting project. I hadn't planned to make it such a tidy timeline. But last week, when I thought about how close I was to the end, I decided to look back and check just what the date actually was. It's sort of a nice button to put on this whole thing. My intent in making my selections was to pick roles that diverge from things we've seen Meryl do before, many of which were from films that happen to be special to me in one way or another. After fifty-two weeks and forty-five films, I hope I've done the process justice. 

And what a film to end with. It's been only a little over a month since the drama Nomadland took home the big prize at the Oscars, along with a Best Director award for Chloé Zhao, and a third win for Frances McDormand in Best Actress. McDormand plays Fern, a woman in Nevada who's husband has recently died, and who loses her job after the gypsum plant in her town shuts down. She decides to purchase a van and essentially become a nomad, taking temporary or seasonal work where she can. She travels to Arizona to join up with a community of other nomads, learning how to survive with very little. 

The film was based on the nonfiction book of the same name, which follows how older Americans during the Great Recession (around 2008) adopted transient lifestyles. Many folks found themselves out of work and close to retirement, and decided to reject the usual nine-to-five of corporate America to hit the road and explore the vastness of the American landscape. Several of the real-life people depicted in the book portray themselves in the film. Fern eventually befriends a fellow nomad named Dave (David Strathairn), whom she ends up visiting at his son's home. Dave reveals his feelings for Fern, and offers to let her stay with him and his family for good. Fran declines and ends up returning to the Arizona community. It's here toward the end that we get a more intimate glimpse into how she got to where she is now.

There are some similarities in the tone of this film and that of Ironweed. Maybe it's because I'm not a person who's even remotely interested in abandoning certain creature comforts, but I found myself a bit anxious throughout both films. Fern's situation is far less dire than Helen's, yet there's a certain underlying melancholy felt around both women's existences. I don't get the sense that Fran necessarily wants to live the life of a nomad. She was more compelled in some way in the aftermath of her husband's death, and the loss of her both her town and job. McDormand does a great job with the complexity of that. She's pulled in different directions. She's got the support, encouragement, and validation from her fellow nomads. Then there's her sister, and residents of her former town who are perplexed and put off by her choice to live the way she is. Again, it's a job well done by McDormand, for example, when explaining to a friend that she's not "homeless," just "houseless."  There are nuances in those sorts of uncomfortable interactions that would fun to see Meryl play. 

I like the theme of not waiting until you're too old or decrepit to actually live a little. Granted, some might not consider the life depicted in Nomadland as a particularly attractive one, but it is to the folks who embrace it. I suppose each of us has some ideal concept or vision of what life can be like like beyond the toil of what's required of us to earn a living. It may not be in a van, but it's somewhere or something.

The film was an overwhelming critical success (94% on Rotten Tomatoes and 93 score on Metacritic). It's cinematography is stunning, and even more impressive considering how bleak some of the scenes likely seemed to be on paper. McDormand's Oscar win may have surprised a few people. It was one of those years where I could have seen four of the five nominees legitimately coming away with a win. With hers, McDormand became only the second woman to ever win three lead acting trophies at the Academy Awards (Katharine Hepburn has four). I'm not super interested in analyzing what it means (if anything) for Meryl's legacy. Streep could still win another one...or two. So could McDormand. I tend to think McDormand's second win only three years ago for Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri should have one hundred percent gone to Sally Hawkins for The Shape of Water. 

But we could go down that endless rabbit hole of who did and who should've all day long. It doesn't help answer the question of who the better actor is (if that's even an answerable thing). It's perplexing that Bette Davis, for example, has only two Oscars, while Hepburn has four. I wouldn't put up much of a fuss if someone used that example as a fair comparison of Streep and McDormand's film careers thus far. In the end, I'm just glad to see such great films getting made that showcase women (particularly women of a certain age demographic). It raises the question of whether Meryl might find herself producing more projects in the future the way McDormand does. Places, Please may be the start of that. 

While this is officially the last entry in my recasting cannon for Meryl, in the coming weeks, I'll be posting about five films that I'll consider an "addendum" to the current list. The selections cover a brief stretch of time that, looking back, sort of shaped my taste in cinema, and that all happened (not surprisingly in retrospect) to include memorable roles for women. And stay tuned in the future for when I do a full recasting of supporting performances! Until then, I'll leave you with the full list of lead roles from the past year of this project. My great admiration goes out to all the monumentally talented performers who originated the roles listed below. 

1976: Hester Street (Gitl) 
1977: Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Jillian Guiler) 
1978: Julia (Julia) 
1979: The Rose (Mary Rose Foster) 
1980: American Gigolo (Michelle Stratton) 
1981: Reds (Louise Bryant) 
1982: Frances (Frances Farmer) 
1983: Romancing the Stone (Joan Wilder) 
1984: A Passage to India (Adela Quested) 
1985: Agnes of God (Dr. Martha Livingston) 
1986: Crimes of the Heart (Rebecca Magrath/Babe Botrell) 
1987: Anna (Anna) 
1988: Gorillas in the Mist (Dian Fossey) 
1989: Dangerous Liaisons (Marquise Isabelle de Merteuil) 
1990: The Grifters (Lilly Dillon) 
1991: Fried Green Tomatoes (Evelyn Couch) 
1992: Blue Sky (Carly Marshall) 
1993. The Piano (Ada McGrath) 
1994: Dolores Claiborne (Dolores Claiborne) 
1995: Copycat (Helen Hudson) 
1996: Dead Man Walking (Sister Helen Prejean) 
1997: As Good as It Gets (Carol Connelly) 
1998: Primary Colors (Susan Stanton) 
1999: American Beauty (Carolyn Burnham) 
2000: Requiem for a Dream (Sara Goldfarb) 
2001: The Contender (Laine Billings Hanson) 
2002: In the Bedroom (Ruth Fowler) 
2003: Panic Room (Meg Altman) 
2004: Vera Drake (Vera Drake) 
2005: Elizabeth I (Queen Elizabeth I) 
2006: Notes on a Scandal (Barbara Covett) 
2007: Frozen River (Ray Eddy) 
2008: Grey Gardens (Edith Bouvier Beale) 
2009: The Last Station (Sophia Tolstaya) 
2010: The Kids Are All Right (Nicole Allgood) 
2011: The Debt (Rachel Singer) 
2012: Saving Mr. Banks (P.L. Travers) 
2013: The Hundred-Foot Journey (Madame Mallory) 
2014: Olive Kitteridge (Olive Kitteridge) 
2015: Hello, My Name is Doris (Doris Miller) 
2016: Julieta (Julieta) 
2017: Feud (Joan Crawford) 
2018: The Wife (Joan Castleman) 
2019: Catherine the Great (Catherine the Great) 
2020: Nomadland (Fern)

Roles by originating actress:

Helen Mirren (5)
Jessica Lange (4)
Kathy Bates (2)
Anette Bening (2)
Glenn Close (2)
Frances McDormand (2)
Sissy Spacek (2)
Emma Thompson (2)
Sigourney Weaver (2)
Joan Allen (1)
Ellen Burstyn (1)
Judy Davis (1)
Judi Dench (1)
Melinda Dillon (1)
Sally Field (1)
Jane Fonda (1)
Jodie Foster (1)
Helen Hunt (1)
Holly Hunter (1)
Anjelica Huston (1)
Lauren Hutton (1)
Carole Kane (1)
Diane Keaton (1)
Sally Kirkland (1)
Melissa Leo (1)
Bette Midler (1)
Vanessa Redgrave (1)
Susan Sarandon (1)
Imelda Staunton (1)
Emma Suárez (1)
Kathleen Turner (1)