Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Happy 73rd, Meryl!

Meryl turns 73 today. Wherever she is, I hope she's doing something she enjoys. Not to sound morbid, but each year that goes by now, I get a little sentimental when considering how much longer we can hope to see Meryl in new projects. Maybe it's a little more pronounced this year, as we have no future projects realistically in the pipeline (that we know of). I remind myself that this is nothing out of the ordinary for her. She takes breaks. Sometimes for a year or two. More than likely, we'll get some news within the next few months about her signing on to some new movie or a limited series. We also have Extrapolations to look forward to later this year. 

For all we know, we could be embarking on her greatest decade of portrayals ever. I'm here for it!

Monday, June 20, 2022

Recasting 1979 (supporting): "All That Jazz"

For anyone who read the preview to this supporting casting project, you might recall how I mentioned something to the effect that some of my choices for roles this go around may at times border a bit on the obscure. That's perhaps the case in my choice for 1979. Bob Fosse's semi-autobiographical film, All That Jazz, saw a young Jessica Lange cast as Angelique, better known as the angel of death. We see scenes with Angelique and the main character, Joe Gideon (Roy Scheider), as Gideon navigates his way through editing a film, directing a musical, and managing the complicated relationships with his ex-wife (Leland Palmer), his girlfriend (Ann Reinking in a role where she's bascially playing herself), and his teenage daughter. Gideon is the epitome of someone who's burning the candle at both ends, with his unwavering libido, chain-smoking, and pill-taking, and work addiction. His conversations with Angelique, despite them not being real, sort of serve as a link to reality for Gideon and his unavoidable morality.


There are unfortunately so few clips out there of Lange and Scheider in their scenes together. It's a shame because the character of Angelique is so different from any other in the film. She's a figment, and essentially the only character in the film who doesn't sing or dance. I found this video that breaks down the character in further detail. It's worth a view:

While death may come in the form of a woman for Joe, and the commentary in the video suggests that Angelique is the only "person" who seems to understand him, I found Lange's portrayal a bit funny and condescending. Which is a great combo when considering for which types of things Joe Gideon feels he's misunderstood...or at least for those he's annoyed that he's made to feel like he should be doing something different. It would have been fun to see how Meryl would've played that. It actually sort of reminded me of the dynamic between Meryl's Ethel Rosenberg and Al Pacino's Roy Cohn from Angels in America.

Lange has been on record as saying that she and Bob Fosse were great friends, and that he went to great lengths to make her role in the film a reality. With that in mind, I think it's pretty unlikely Meryl was on anyone's radar for a part like this. But it's tough to say for sure. Word gets around. Someone sees someone in a play. They tell their friends about it. Those friends might just happen to be big wigs in the entertainment industry. Who knows if Fosse was aware of Meryl in 1978. She'd already been nominated for a Tony. She had filmed a movie with Robert De Niro and had been John Cazale's girlfriend prior to his untimely death from cancer early that year. Stranger things have happened. And I would've preferred Meryl being linked to Roy Scheider in this film instead of 1982's neo-noir dud Still of the Night. 

I like this choice for Meryl partly because of the aforementioned uniqueness of the character. But also because I like the idea of her getting to be in projects with renowned directors. I can't imagine those types of influences doing anything other than enhancing one's performance and skills. A handful of the upcoming selections I make in this project were heavily influenced by this fact. In addition of course to the role itself and the setting or topic the film covers. All That Jazz is now considered a classic. It was a critical success, nabbing Fosse the Palm d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, and was nominated for a whopping nine Academy Awards, winning four. Incidentally, it was the last live-action musical to be nominated for Best Picture until 2001's Moulin Rouge!

My selection for 1980 is a film that was originally released in 1981. But I'm bumping it up a year to make room for my 1981 selection, also originally released that year. 

Monday, June 13, 2022

Recasting 1978 (supporting): "Coming Home"

It has been well-documented that after the filming of 1977's Julia, Jane Fonda had sought to cast co-star Meryl Streep in her upcoming Vietnam War drama, Coming Home. Fonda was evidently so impressed with Streep that she had her in mind for the role of Vi Munson, originally portrayed by Penelope Milford. Meryl proved unavailable, and Milford went on to receive an Academy Award nomination for her performance. I had originally assumed that Meryl might have been too busy shooting The Deer Hunter (also 1978). As it turns out, however, Coming Home was filmed in early 1977 (The Deer Hunter mostly the latter half), but Meryl was committed to starring in a Tennessee Williams play. 

At first I was hesitant about choosing another Vietnam War-related movie to recast with Meryl, especially the exact year as The Deer Hunter. But it has been so long since I'd seen Coming Home that I'd forgotten how polar opposite the role of Vi is from Linda. It therefore seemed like a great choice to imagine Meryl diverging from the hapless, innocent, "waiting" Linda in The Deer Hunter to free-spirited, pot-smoking bohemian Vi in Coming Home. 

Vi meets Fonda's character, Sally, after both women's partners (Sally's husband, Vi's boyfriend) are deployed to Vietnam in 1968. To keep herself busy, Sally volunteers at the veterans hospital where Vi works, and she ends up developing a relationship with Luke (John Voigt), who is paralyzed from the waist down and in a wheelchair following a combat injury. Vi also has a brother (Robert Carradine) who lives at the hospital, struggling emotionally after a brief stint in Vietnam as well. There isn't much out there in terms of clips of Milford in the role, but I found this one that has a few snippets from several scenes (start at 1:28):

I think it would've been fun to see Meryl play the scene where's she with Fonda after learning that her brother committed suicide in the hospital. Vi is the opposite of naive, and she's the type of character who seems like she'd have a pragmatic view of it all in the end. That doesn't mean she's not angry or sad, but she's not shattered or helpless. She's a good lens through which the audience can understand another facet of the horrors of war; her brother spent little time overseas, yet came back so messed up that he ended up taking his life. Vi behaves like a ticked off older sister who's little brother pulled some kind of stupid stunt. Her pain no doubt goes much deeper, but her tough exterior won't let that show just yet.  

Directed by Hal Ashby, Coming Home was a tremendously successful film, both commercially and critically. It was also one of the few to realistically depict the life and struggles of someone wheelchair-bound--particularly in love scenes. The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards in total, winning three: Original Screenplay, and both Fonda and Voigt for their lead performances. Had Meryl not done that play, it would've been interesting to see for which film she would've been nominated, as it's an Academy rule that an actor cannot be recognized in the same category twice. 

Monday, June 6, 2022

Recasting 1977 (supporting): "Jesus of Nazareth"

From as early as I can remember, every spring around Easter, a network TV station would air the sweeping Franco Zeffirelli miniseries, Jesus of Nazareth. I'd been brought up Roman Catholic, and the life of Jesus Christ was a ubiquitous story in the small world of my rural hometown, my school, and family. Released in 1977 (at Easter), I'm convinced the production helped shape my ideas on what life might have been like for those living at the start of the Common Era. We'll get to how innaccuate that likely was in reality a bit later, but suffice it to say, that the series transported me into a world that blended the historical with the supernaturual in a way that to this day seems expertly done. I'll mention that I'm a total heathen now (I don't believe there is a divine being overseeing the universe, much less that it's some dude who lived and was excecuted in modern-day Israel 2000 years ago) and have been for some time. So I have very little trouble delineating the fantasy of the biblical story of Jesus of Nazareth from the way it was so realistically portrayed in Zeffirelli's work. 

I'm not going to go into the plot. Even non-believers likely have a general idea that Jesus was born, crucified, buried and allegedly rose on the third day. The story pretty much follows all that from a biblical point of view, with a fair amount of background involving the political and religious conflicts at the time. The whole series is a whopping six hours (about a half hour longer than 2003's Angels in America, for reference). It still sort of boggles me the scope with which this project was undertaken and the high-wattage ensemble cast that Zeffirelli was able to assemble for TV. Anne Bancroft, Laurence Olivier, Christopher Plummer, Ernest Borgnine, James Earl Jones, Anthony Quinn, Rod Steiger, Peter Ustinov. Eight eventual Oscar winners in total, among other brilliant actors. 

Whom did I have in mind for Meryl in this project then? No other than Mary, the mother of Jesus, of course. Originally portrayed by Brit Olivia Hussey (who had been Zeffirelli's Juliet in 1968's Romeo and Juliet), the actor needed to realistically be able to portray someone from age 17 to 50. Hussey, who would've been 24 at the time of shooting, is just shy of two years younger than Meryl. So if she was able to pull it off, I suspect Meryl would've had little problem with it as well. I actually rewatched the whole series in recent months. And I have to admit, there was a little more to do in the character of Mary than I had remembered. Not unlike themes in Colm Tóibín's novella, The Testament of Mary, we can almost get a sense in some earlier scenes, when an adolescent Jesus reads scripture to rabbis, that there's a hint of uncertainty in Mary's eyes about what her son's "attributes" may mean for him as he ages into adulthood. Starting at 2:46, it's a pretty intense scene for the character. 

Streep likely would've gotten a fair amount of attention after acting in something like this. Knowing that Zeffirelli cast Hussey, like many of the other actors in this production, after having worked with her on an earlier project, it's unlikely that Meryl came close to auditioning for this part, much less getting cast. But it's the kind of project she would've been on people's radars for around the time. After all, she starred in and won an Emmy for the CBS miniseries Holocaust only a year after this. And she could've used the same black wig she wore in her actual 1977 project, Julia, for Jesus of Nazareth instead ha:

There's no way this series would get cast the same way today. While there is a fair amount of diversity in the original, the majority of the main characters are played by white people. And not just like not brown or black, like paralyzingly blue-eyed Jesus:

While I'm certainly not in favor of casting white folks in roles for people that would definitely not have been white, the idea of Jesus Christ being a god who performs miracles and rises from the dead essentially moves the story out the realm of a pure preiod piece and one with elements of, to me, fantasy and mysticism. Put another way, the Bible is fiction. That being said, people did not look like this in first-century Jerusalem, fiction or non-fiction. At the time Jesus of Nazareth was made, the propagation of the image of Christ as someone who looked like he was born in Scandinavia had been very successfully orchestrated and carried out with multiple cultural and artistic depictions as such. It's perpetuated to this day, if perhaps with better knowledge and recognition of how inaccurate it really is. I've read that Dustin Hoffman and Al Pacino were originally considered for the role of Jesus, but even they were passed over in favor of Robert Powell, who was eventually cast, due to Powell's image more closely matching the "popular percetion of Jesus held by the American public." Yikes. 

The project received praise from critics and was a massive hit around the world. It's a bit perplexing to me that it didn't get more award recognition in the United States (only two Emmy nominations). It did much better with BAFTA (it was a British/Italian production), with six nominations (winning none). I tend to wonder if, despite the high quality of the production and excellent performances from the star cast, if it was a bit too obvious and "known" as a story. It had almost a documentary feel to it, which I have to admit is one of the more appealing aspects of it for me. Regardless, it's fun to imagine Meryl having been part of something so epic and memorable from my childhood!

Monday, May 30, 2022

Recasting 1976 (supporting): "Marathon Man"

We begin the "supporting" version of this recasting project in the same year we did for lead. Mery's actual filmography began with 1977's Julia. But we know that she was doing auditions for films earlier, as she's famously described her encounter with Dino De Laurentis in her audition for King Kong. That film was ultimately cast with Jessica Lange, and was released in December 1976. So it's not too wild to assume she may have not only been interested in doing a film a year earlier than she did, but was getting auditions with established directors. 

One of those directors could've been John Schlesinger, whose Midnight Cowboy had scored him an Academy Award for Best Director earlier that decade. Schlesinger reteamed with Dustin Hoffman in 1976 for an adaptation of William Goldman's thriller novel, Marathon Man. I'll say right off the bat that it's a bit of a stretch to think that Streep would've been considered for the role of a French and German-speaking Swiss woman for her first film. That being said, it's known that Schlesinger originally envisioned Julie Christie (a Brit) in the part of Elsa Opel that eventually went to Swiss actress, Marthe Keller. It's not a huge role and Keller was by no means a big star in Hollywood, but had up to that point appeared in several French and German films. Had Meryl secured an audition, we can expect that she would've been able to adeptly display her knack for accents and language, perhaps even to the point of being considered. We'll continue under that premise. 

The film basically follows Babe Levy (Hoffman), a Ph.D. student and jogger, whose brother, Doc (Roy Scheider) is a secret agent for the U.S. government, acting as a diamond courier for a Nazi war criminal, Dr. Szell (played by Laurence Oliver), in exchange for information in tracking down other Nazis. The plot is pretty convoluted, so suffice it to say that Elsa is also an agent secretly working for Dr. Szell. She becomes Babe's girlfriend to get info on Doc, whom Szell is now trying to kill because he feels he can no longer trust anyone with the diamonds. 

Doc tricks Elsa here into revealing that she's not really from where she says she is. Beyond the technical aspects of the language, it would be an interesting character from the angle of Elsa essentially being a role within a role. The majority of her time on screen is her "acting" like someone she is not. I suspect that would be both a challenging and fun prospect to negotiate for an actor. We never know for sure whether or not Elsa ever had true feelings for Babe. Or if perhaps she didn't at first or hadn't expected to when he was her "mark," but developed them as they spent time together. Spoiler: She ends up getting herself killed when she warns Babe toward the end that double agent Janeway is going to betray him. So we're left to believe, to some degree, that she really did care, since she put her life at risk to help Babe. One further point to mention here: Keller shows her top during a love scene with Hoffman. Hoffman does show his bare ass in a different scene, so it's not like it's only the woman who's showing some skin in the film. But I do wonder if that would've been a deal-breaker for Meryl at the time. She flashed one breast in a scene during Silkwood in 1983, so maybe it wouldn't have been too big of a deal. It would certainly not have hurt the film's quality had the nude scene been left out in Marathon Man

The film did rather well with critics. I've watched it a couple times now, and I agree that it's a solid film, if a bit difficult to follow from a plot standpoint. It's also not something to watch if you're squeamish, as there's a "dental" torture scene that is enough to make you want to consider forgoing your next scheduled cleaning. Olivier deservedly earned an Oscar nomination for his supporting role as Szell. It earned five overall nominations at the Golden Globes, including one for Keller in Supporting Actress. Keller also received a Bambi Award, a German award recognizing excellence in international media. The film is definitely worth taking the time to view. 

Monday, May 23, 2022

Recasting (supporting) project preview

In the early months of the pandemic, I began a Streep recasting project that spanned over forty years of movies. With one selection for each calendar year, I meant it to be a realistic sort of alternative or parallel career Meryl could've feasibly had, were she not to have done the movies of her actual filmography. This is not to be confused of course with my "reimagined filmography," which more reimagines what her career could've looked like if a handful of additions and subtractions were made to canon (the additions being roles for which she was at least obliquely connected to but never starred in, the subtractions being either stinkers or movies I just didn't really care if she'd never been in)--a sort of best-case-scenario look back of what wasn't wildly unrealistic had the chips fallen slightly differently over the years. The recasting project required no such connection to the films' casting histories. In fact, for only a handful of my recasting choices could I find information that she was in consideration. That difference was part of the fun. 

With the exception of two selections early on, all of the recasting choices were lead roles. It didn't seem super realistic to put her in high-profile leading lady projects when she would've been a total newcomer. We're coming up on a year since i finished that project last summer. I had indicated at the time that I expected to do a second iteration of the project, but this time with only supporting roles. Well, there's no better time than the present! I've had the entire list of which projects I plan to select complete for many months now (save one or two recent changes). It's been fun rewatching many of them to refresh my memory on the performances/characters. A few were projects that I'd never seen, but knew enough about that they intrigued me as potentially interesting roles. 

Similar to the original recating project (and Meryl's actual career in general), I made an effort to make selections that cover rather broad territory. Perhaps my favorite thing about watching Meryl is the wide variety of people we get to witness her inhabiting. With that in mind, not only did I attempt to choose roles that would provide an opportunity for interpreting a unique character, but also some projects specifically because of when or where the story takes place, by whom they were directed, and with whom she would get to co-star. Sometimes it's a bit of a combo of all these. And at the same time, they're often choices that are simply personal favorites, within the confines of my "guidelines" of course. As a result, some of the selections might seem a little wacky or unexpected (ranging from glorified cameos to borderline lead performances). But I assure you, they'll never be boring. 

Gird your loins, Streepers. Let's have some fun.   

Monday, May 16, 2022

Results of poll #15

Folks have made their choices for which film of Meryl's they feel should have been nominated for Best Picture, and was not. The results are as follows:

Doubt 29.55%

Silkwood 20.45%

Sophie's Choice 18.18%

The Devil Wears Prada 13.64%

The Bridges of Madison County 11.36%

Adaptation 6.82%

August: Osage County 0%

Into the Woods 0%

I can't really argue with Doubt. I think it's a great movie and regularly revisit it. I definitely would've ranked it ahead of both The Reader and Frost/Nixon that year. I'm a little surprised by how low Adaptation came in. I voted for it, just because of all the films of Meryl's that were not nominated for Best Picture, this might be the best, in my opinion. But when trying to decide which film I would push out of the top five that year. Maybe The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. As much as I enjoy Chicago, Adaptation is probably the superior film as well. 

Good to see that Silkwood and Sophie's Choice were up there at the top as well. Those also just happen to be two of Streep's likely top five performances in my view, with Sophie's Choice number one. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Poll #15: Which Meryl film should've been nominated for Best Picture?

This question was suggested in the comments of my last poll, and I thought it would be a great one to consider. It's interesting that Meryl has been in three films in the last five years that were nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards (The Post, Little Women, Don't Look Up). She was of course only nominated for The Post. She hadn't been nominated for a film that also had a Best Picture nom since way back in 1985 (Out of Africa)! 

I think it's means something extra when a lead actor or even supporting actor gets individually recognized for their performance in a film that's nominated for the top prize. So often Meryl is the best thing in her films, and she can make, what would otherwise be a bit of a stinker perhaps (see The Iron Lady, for example), a decent film due simply to the fact that she's so good and on screen all the time. 

So with that in mind, which film(s) do you think were deserving of that top nomination? 

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Wish list entry #12: "Broken for You"

This will be the last (for a while, at least) of several recent novel suggestions I've suggested could make great adaptations for Meryl. Stephanie Kallos' 's debut 2005 novel, Broken for You seems a tale ripe for a limited series. I say that because it's a reasonably long book, which would give ample story to cover six to eight episodes. 

One of the two main characters is Margaret Hughes, a 70-something wealthy divorcée living alone in a mansion in Seattle. Spoilers ahead. She's gotten a diagnosis of brain cancer and ends up taking in a boarder, Wanda Schultz, a young woman who's sort of obsessively trying to track down her ex boyfriend. The two develop a friendship which ends up changing them both in profound, but different ways. 

Margaret houses countless expensive antiques, which turn out to be items that were taken from Jewish families during WWII by Margaret's businessman father. Despite her many attempts to locate the owners of all the antiques, she's been unsuccessful, and harbors strong guilt around possessing them. Wanda is employed in the theater and has an artistic background. Events unfold where she ends up making enormous mosaic artworks out of the antique items, which get a lot of attention from the press...mostly very good, some controversial. But it ends up being a way for Wanda to work through the pain of parental and partner abandonment, and for Margaret to somehow do right by the families she's been unable to reach. Fun connection at the end is that Wanda's father, who'd left when she was a child to search for her mother, ends up befriending an old Jewish lady who possessed a small item that was part of an antique set in Margaret's possession. He ends up getting connected with Margaret after his friend dies and leaves the antique to him, and of course, he and Wanda get reunited. 

I thought it was a pretty good book with nicely drawn-out characters. Margaret and Wanda definitely feel like co-leads if they were to be portrayed similarly to the way they were in the book. It may seem a bit "been there done that" when one reads that the would-be Meryl character is suffering from cancer, but I'd argue it's not quite the same way we've seen from her before in the case of One True Thing, for example. I think the people you have around you, what you leave behind, and what secrets or regrets you may have greatly shapes people's experiences and approaches when faced with the real possibility of death. Margaret is in a very different position than Kate Gulden. And while not a mother (anymore--additional background that her son died tragically quite young), the stakes are perhaps higher in her their own, unique way. 

I suppose the story could work as a feature film as well. I just tend to think longer books with a lot of moving parts that span decades of experience are so often better suited for a limited series. The medium is a much more respected and highly-financed option that even fifteen years ago, and it also provides more time for us to enjoy our favorites onscreen. 

We (and Meryl, more importantly) have options out there, people! On this blog I've suggested adaptations of The Testament of Mary, The Buried Giant, Without Blood, The Cypress Club, State of Terror, State of Wonder, Celine, All Adults Here, and Broken for You. A couple have been optioned, non have been casted. With no official news on any upcoming filming projects, how fun would it be if one of her next came from the above list? 

Patiently waiting. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Results of poll #14

A big thank-you to all those who took the survey and/or commented on this latest post. I was pleasantly surprised by the interaction and examples folks communicated on which role they each felt was most underrated for Meryl. The top five scorers were:

The Hours (21.95%)
Doubt (12.2%)
Plenty (9.76%)
Ironweed (9.76%)
Marvin's Room (7.32%)

It's pretty easy to see why The Hours was ranked number one. Meryl's performance was so sensitive and layered, and she got overshadowed by Nicole Kidman's turn as Virginia Woolf. I think Meryl's exceptional reviews for Adaptation that same year sort of contributed to the tendency toward less attention on her performance as Clarissa Vaughan in The Hours. From an awards standpoint, Clarissa was likely more the lead character than was Virginia, but it's tough with basically three roles splitting up the movie. It could've gone either way, and Kidman's was the more transformative role. 

Totally agree with Doubt too! Yes, she was nominated for it, but she gets dragged for it being too hammy. I think it's a stunning performance that few could've come close to giving it the justice Meryl did. I love Plenty and in a year other than the same year as Out of Africa, Streep would've gotten a lot more attention. Ironweed's great, just not a lot of people saw it (although she ended up getting nominated). And yes, her performance/role in Marvin's Room might not be as baity as Diane Keaton's (fun fact--Meryl was originally going to play Bessie with Anjelica Huston playing Lee), but I love that Meryl played Lee, as up to that point she's portrayed the suffering one so often. It was great to see her rather flawed and even somewhat unkind or cold in the mid 90s, and not in a comedic way. Overlooked, no question.  

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Poll #14: Which Streep performance is the most underrated?

For whatever reason, I've been wanting to watch Let Them All Talk all the time lately. I don't know if it's the fact that they're on a beautiful boat, or that I enjoy the storyline, or the performances. All of these things are appealing about the film to me, but watching it back again, I realized that it's actually an amazing performance by Meryl. So many subtleties and nuances in both the serious and lighthearted moments. It got me thinking how underrated this role is probably going to end up being when one looks back on her filmography. So I thought it would be a great idea for a poll! 

As always, the films on my list are not an exhaustive list. It's easy to immediately think about her non-nominated performances, as it's hard to consider a role that landed an actor an Academy Award nomination and/or win to be considered underrated or somehow undervalued. But I argue that it could be. I'll be curious to see what people think.  

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Character info update for Streep's role in "Extrapolations"

I was alerted earlier today by a tweet from Jamie Michael Rogers that Meryl will be playing Sienna Miller's mother in Apple TV+'s anthology climate change series, Extrapolations. 

 When asked if she can say who Meryl is playing, Miller hesitated and reiterated that Meryl would play her mother and "one other part." This last line is interesting, as it suggests that Streep's role is being kept under wraps. I don't know why this would be, unless there's something special or different about it that they don't want to spoil. Maybe it's that she has more of a lead role that runs through several episodes. Maybe Sienna simply doesn't know if she's supposed to talk about characters other than her own in the series. I remember seeing a clip with director Scott Z. Burns talking about Meryl being in a certain episode, which made it sound like her participation was limited to that one. That still may be, but Sienna Miller's cagey response in this interview has me even more intrigued. 

No word on when we can expect to see Extrapolations. I'm confident it will be before year's end, however. 

Monday, April 11, 2022

Wish list entry #11: "All Adults Here"

I continue with what will be my penultimate wish list entry (for the time being) of a character from a contemporary novel. Last year, I had the pleasure of enjoying Emma Straub's All Adults Here. I'm pretty sure that at the time I was drawn to it for the very reason I've recently picked up a handful of other books. It's got a role for Meryl! And I'll mention off the bat that it, like State of Wonder, has already been optioned for a (likely limited) television series. 

Quick summary. The main character, 68 year-old Astrid Strick witnesses the death of an acquaintance, Barbara, when Barbara is hit by a school bus. Astrid wasn't particularly fond of Barbara, but her death sparks questions in Astrid, as she begins to think back on the upbringing of her now three grown children, Elliot, Porter, and Nicky. The same day of Barbara's death, Nicky's daughter Cecelia comes to live with Astrid, after she's bullied at school for "snitching" on a friend who ended up in a potentially dangerous sexual scenario with an adult the friend met online. Fun twist: Astrid, a widow, has been secretly dating her long-time hairdresser, Birdie. Astrid comes out to her kids as bisexual, and the book continues with an unweaving of preconceptions, misconceptions, and finally, some reconnections. 

It's interesting if one looks at the Goodreads synopsis of this book that it is super centered on Astrid. Yes, she's the main character, but the lives of the kids and the granddaughter are all pretty well drawn, with lots of individual focus. While that may be an attribute to the book on the whole, it might draw away from Astrid as the central character a bit, at least as it might concern her depiction on screen. That said, were this project to come to fruition, and if Meryl were somehow cast, she would unquestionably receive top billing and the classification of "lead." It was only announced as being optioned in July 2020, so it's not so long ago to think it's necessarily in development hell. It'll be interesting to see if it ever gets greenlit. Could be a good project. 

Monday, April 4, 2022

Wish list entry #10 : "Celine"

I'm continuing with my "wish list" entries with the latest book I've read depicting a character whom I think would be interesting to see Meryl portray. Peter Heller's 2017 novel, Celine is one of a few recent stories out there I've been able to find that depicts a woman protagonist who happens to be nearing 70. And not only that, she's a working private eye. 

Full disclosure, I wasn't a huge fan of the book as a whole. I won't get too much into a critique, but I was hoping for it to be a little more introspective on the part of the main character and a little less heavy on plot and or scene-descriptions. Just a matter of preference I guess, but it also affords anyone who wishes to bring it to the screen a great opportunity to more fruitfully imagine these characters. 

The book takes place not long after 9/11, where Celine Watkins, a French-born New York sophisticate is hired to find a woman's father who was presumed to have been killed by a grizzly bear years earlier. Celine is joined by her husband as they make the trek to the Rockies to start uncovering the complicated history of their subject and his daughter. Along the way we get to learn of Celine's own complicated past. Her family's escape from France during World War II. The tumultuous relationship with her father. Her two sisters' deaths. The baby she had to give up for adoption when she was very young and in a boarding school. All these pieces are ripe for a screen adaptation that I think would be best as a limited series. Picture something like Mare of Eastown with better clothes and older detectives. 

Celine is also a former heavy smoker, whose current emphysema makes all the physical work (especially in high altitudes) particularly arduous and dangerous. She has an affinity for guns and animal skulls, and is intimidatingly intelligent to most people she encounters. I had a hard time telling if Celine would've had an accent. It's never explicitly stated, but my initial thought was that if someone only spoke French until the time they were around 7 (which is what's described in the book, if memory serves), and then is immersed in an English-speaking country, I'd expect that person to grow up without much of an accent. I've read that after 11 or 12, it's tougher for folks to lose their accents. But Celine and her sisters are described as having only spoken French for quite a while after arriving in the United States, as they formed a bit of a sisterly posse, likely a self-preservation kind of sibling blanket. Everyone knows how much I love Meryl serving up a great new accent, so even if Celine wouldn't have had one, they could always adjust the character's age at the time she came over on the boat to give her a hint of a French sound. 

When comparing this story to Ann Patchett's State of Wonder, Celine I think would provide a more interesting individual character, while the latter's story is much more compelling and crisp. I haven't been able to find anything out there that suggests Heller's novel has been optioned. Maybe this can be a chance for Meryl to step up her producing game and purchase the rights! 

Monday, March 28, 2022

"Don't Look Up" shut out at Oscars

Don't Look Up was nominated for four awards at last night's Academy Awards (Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Film Editing). The film came away empty handed, unfortunately. But the four nominations were all sort of long shots, with maybe the exception of screenplay. 

I don't know how one can write anything about this year's award ceremony without mentioning the slap heard 'round the world. After Chris Rock took the stage to present the award for Documentary Feature, he made a comment to Jada Pinkett Smith, referencing her shaved head by joking that he was looking forward to G.I. Jane part 2. I still do not know (as I was not aware) if Rock understood that Jada suffers from alopecia, a medical condition which causes hair loss. Will Smith, her husband, originally laughed at the comment, but then approached the stage, slapped Rock, returned to his seat and twice shouted, "Keep my wife's name out of your fucking mouth!" 

It was surreal. I, like I'm sure many other viewers, could not believe at first that it was not a bit. It quickly became clear that it was not. I don't want to write a bunch about it, but from my perspective, I'm amazed Will Smith wasn't escorted from the building. He assaulted a presenter. As insensitive or perhaps even hurtful a comment may be, physical violence in retaliation is a step too far. I say this fully appreciating how one's upbringing and culture may strongly influence the impulse to defend oneself or one's family as Smith did. I also believe Chris Rock's comment to Jada Pinkett Smith was inappropriate and should not have been said. 

Will Smith of course later in the evening won the Oscar for Actor in a Leading Role for his portrayal of Richard Williams in King Richard. I was disappointed in his attempt to rationalize his behavior by invoking some maudlin mission of love. I found the speech bizarre and self-indulgent, and his actions "in defense" of his wife to be misogynist and exceedingly juvenile. It completely overshadowed any other nominee's or winner's experience, and the show will forever be remembered solely for this preposterous event. 

Congratulations to CODA for being the little movie that could. Alas, a new season is upon us. 

Monday, March 21, 2022

"Don't Look Up" takes top honor at Writers Guild Awards

Adam McKay scored his third WGA win after being honored with the top prize yesterday for his original screenplay for Don't Look Up. The film was up against King Richard, Licorice Pizza, Being the Ricardos, and The French Dispatch. David Sirota shared the awards with his co-screenwriter credit on the film. CODA won for Best Adapted Screenplay. 

Don't Look Up is up for Best Original Screenplay (as well as Best Picture) at the Oscars next Sunday. Would be a great win for the pic that has been so divisive among critics and fans. 

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Wish list entry #9: "State of Wonder"

A few weeks ago I finished Ann Patchett's 2011 novel, State of Wonder. It is the first of several I've recently selected which showcase a character whom I expect would be an interesting role for Meryl to portray onscreen. Warning that there are spoilers ahead. 

The story follows a woman named Marina (who is not the Meryl character), a physician in Minnesota who is tasked with tracking down her one-time mentor in the Amazon rainforest. One of her colleagues had previously been sent not long prior, but he ended up mysteriously dying. Her mentor, Dr. Annick Swenson (the Meryl character), has spent the better part of the last few decades in Brazil, working on a drug that allows women to become pregnant well into their seventies. First spoiler: the tribe that Dr. Swenson studies to develop her drug also has immunity to malaria. Marina works for a big pharmaceutical company, so this is a big deal. Second spoiler: Dr. Swenson, a woman in her early seventies, is pregnant. 

Just the plot points aren't necessarily enough to make for an interesting project. My guess is that Dr. Swenson would technically be a supporting character. But knowing how central she is to the story and action, particularly in the latter half of the book, someone with Meryl's star power might be able to snag a co-lead type of categorization. The character is a brilliant, decisive woman (nothing new to Meryl's roles there). But there's a certain subtlety and mystery around her, partly due to the fact that she never had children and now that she's pregnant so late in life (third spoiler: Dr. Swenson realizes the fetus has died inside her around the third trimester and she wants Marina to deliver it) there are a lot of interesting moral and ethical questions the reader can't help but consider. Dr. Swenson is also a rather pragmatic person and physician, something one might expect for anyone surviving in the jungle. This practicality she exudes contributes to the tricky questions that arise, and it's the type of nuanced and "difficult" character and story that I think usually catches Meryl's eye. It also doesn't brush over the physical ravages of age, despite how physically capable Dr. Swenson is and is required to be. And the character gets to speak a touch of Portuguese and the eponymous language of the (fictional) indigenous Lakashi people. 

What's interesting in researching this book was that it was optioned for a limited series back in 2018. A year later, director William Oldroyd (Lady Macbeth starring Florence Pugh and the upcoming Eileen starring Ann Hathaway) became attached. The screenplay started work around the time as well apparently, only for Covid to hit nine months later. I have no idea if Covid was indeed a factor in this not yet having any casting or further production news, but it's certainly a reasonable possibility for why it has not come to fruition, and why it's not crazy to think it still may. 

It would be a great lead role for a forty-something woman of Indian descent (Marina has both Indian and Norwegian heritage). And it takes place in the Amazon, a setting that is different than any Meryl has shot in. This last part might actually be a barrier to Streep taking the part were she offered it, knowing that she's been open about not liking being hot and sweaty. Although, she had a bit of that shooting in the swamp for Adaptation, so if the role is right, she may just try something new. Considering the dearth of casting news we've had for her over the last year, I would not be shocked if Streep's attachment would be the final boost the producers would need for that final green light necessary to get filming underway. 

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Streep on hand as AFI honors "Don't Look Up"

Don't Look Up was among ten films honored at the American Film Institute luncheon yesterday in Los Angeles. It's nice to see her making the rounds in support of the film this year. I also can't help but be a freak about speculating what's she's discussing when rubbing elbows with directors like Jane Campion. 

photo from Variety courtesy of AFI

They must be doing a movie together, right?! A boy can dream. 

Don't Look Up is in contention for BAFTA awards tomorrow in the categories of Best Film, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Leonardo DiCaprio), Best Original Screenplay, and Best Original Score. It'll be interesting to see who's on hand at Royal Albert Hall for the ceremony. Until then, I'll continue to speculate about what kind of character Jane Campion has concocted for our girl. 

Monday, March 7, 2022

Wish list entry #8: "Without Blood"

As I'd recently mentioned I was going to do, I'll be posting a handful of wish list entries in the coming months. My previous entries have mostly been biopic suggestions, including a recent poll opining on whom would be the best real person for Meryl to portray. The upcoming selections I make are going to be adaptations of fictional characters. At this point in Meryl's career, it's going to be more and more difficult to expect lead roles from either original screenplays or adaptations of novels or plays that depict interesting and complex characters in her demographic. Places, Please seems like it would be one (whatever the hell happened to that). The Good House would've been one, but that film is lingering in distribution hell despite good reviews for the film and great ones for Sigourney Weaver. I've taken it upon myself to make a list of and then read novels that depict lead characters that could reasonably be portrayed by Meryl in the coming years. And although I've definitely posted more than eight times in this particular tag, I'm numbering this one because I have a specific title in mind. 

What's kind of weird is that I finished a book this weekend and had planned to write about it today. This morning, however, I came across some news from a couple days ago, in which Angelina Jolie signed a three-year deal with Fremantle, with her first project to be an adaptation of Alessandro Baricco's novella, Without Blood. Jolie was slated to direct the film as far back as 2017, at which time I had read the book, thinking based on the description that it could contain a juicy role. I actually had to do a quick search on the blog to see if I had posted about it back then, as it was definitely something I remember thinking about for Meryl. 

Fast forward to today, and Jolie is going to begin filming in Italy in May. A quick idea of the story with spoilers: a four year-old girl is hidden while her father and other family members are killed sometime possibly around the time of the Spanish Civil War. One of the killers spots her but doesn't give her away. Many many years later (I've seen mentions of fifty years, sixty years, or simply "later as an old woman" to describe how much later..because I don't remember exactly), the woman, Nina, spots the the man who let her go and she invites him to a chat at a cafe. It's got a revenge aspect to it, as we learn that the other killers were systematically murdered over the years, but we don't know the extent of Nina's involvement, no what she has planned for this last guy. It's an intense story with the kind of uncertain moral questions that I suspect Meryl would be drawn to in the character. I don't think it's ever explicitly stated where the story physically takes place at the start. But if memory serves, the later scenes take place in an English-speaking country(?), which opens the possible opportunity for English dialogue from a Spanish-speaking character (y'all know how much I love a new accent from Meryl). 

I can see a few barriers to Meryl being cast in this role. If they do end up having Nina be in her early to mid 50s, then Meryl will likely be out of the running. The last killer, Tito, is supposed to be sixteen years older. But he, too, is described as an old man, and they can always fluff these numbers a bit if they have certain people in mind for the characters in a film version. They also might want to cast a Spanish or Italian actress, if indeed they're planning on portraying Nina as one or the other. I also wonder, if Meryl were somehow to be involved and that it's already going to film in two months, that we wouldn't have heard that her name was attached. Although that wasn't the cast with Don't Look Up, as Meryl was announced as joining well after it was announced the film was going to be made and other actors had already been revealed. 

There were rumors seven years ago round this time that Streep was going to portray Mary Leakey in a bipoic of Robert Leakey (to star Jolie's then-husband, Brad Pitt), entitled simply Africa. That project fell apart, but if there was any truth to that rumor, then obviously Meryl and Angelina had some semblance of a professional connection beyond attending awards shows at the same time. 

The articles from this weekend suggested that there would be more info on Without Blood's production coming up in the near future, which I expect has to include casting news. With how barren Meryl's schedule seems to be at the moment, aside form some reservations I have with Jolie's body of directing work, wouldn't this be a fun addition to her body of work?

Monday, February 28, 2022

Streep at the SAGs

Although Don't Look Up lost out to the cast of CODA in the ensemble category at the Screen Actors Guild Awards last night, it was nice to see that Meryl was in attendance. She joined co-stars Tyler Perry and Cate Blanchett to present the clip for their film. 

Meryl looks great! I might be crazy but I feel like usually when she's this trim she's either just finished filming something or is about to start. I know Extrapolations might have wrapped for her recently, but I'm just hoping and wishing that she's going to start something this spring for a late 2022 release. 

She also got to snap a pic with the night's Lifetime Achievement honoree, Dame Helen Mirren, as well as getting a shout out from Marlee Matlin during the acceptance speech for CODA's ensemble win (2:08 below).  

I love when she ends up playing a sort of a supporting role in awards shows, even if she isn't nominated in an individual category. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Will Meryl be cast in the upcoming screen adaptation of Hillary Clinton's novel?

Late last week, multiple sources announced that Hillary Clinton's recent novel, State of Terror, has been acquired for development into a feature film. I have to admit that I wasn't even aware Clinton had published a novel. But she has, it's gotten strong reviews, and now it's being executive produced by Clinton and her co-author, Louise Penny, along with Clinton's production company HiddenLight Productions and Gigi Pritzker's Madison Wells. A short blurb from the article: 

"This high-stakes thriller of international intrigue follows novice Secretary of State Ellen Adams, who is unexpectedly brought into the administration by a newly-elected President, her political and personal adversary. Events soon erupt that sweep her into a world of global intrigue and diplomacy where the stakes could not be higher and the potential consequences, both personal and global, could not be greater."

It's not hard to figure out where Clinton got her inspiration for the story. And it seems like it could be a juicy role for a woman over 50. In one description I read, they described Ellen as "middle-aged," but the character also has an adult daughter who now runs her media empire. Any concern of Streep potentially being too old for the part might not be a huge problem. Clinton was 65 when she left the office of Secretary of State in 2017. Meryl, even if the film were not to shoot for another two years (I have not even seen a screenwriter attached at this point), would be close to 75. Still doable, as she can easily play parts ten years younger. While not a true biopic, this project wouldn't be completely unlike when she filmed The Devil Wears Prada, a story adapted from a novel, which in turn was loosely based on real people. 

It would be an intriguing character, and the kind of political story Meryl has occasion to involve herself with. She and Clinton are friends (or at least friendly), so I can't imagine her name won't at least come up in the casting conversation, if it hasn't already. Places, Please was announced one year ago this coming Friday, with zero follow up info on the film's status since. Without any other projects confirmed or rumored, I'll be doing a lot of speculating in the coming weeks/months about possible projects. I would be thrilled if we learn that Places, Please is set to film this spring with a late 2022 release. Then we'll maybe get casting news on State of Terror sometime later this year. And if we throw in a true biopic (see any of the amazing options from Poll #13), that's an original screenplay, a novel adaptation, and a biopic all in a row in lead parts. 

Let the powers that be get to work! 

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Results of poll #13

Three weeks ago, I posted a poll question of whom folks would like to see Meryl portray in a biopic. The results are as follows:

Eleanor Roosevelt (29.03%)

Greta Garbo (16.13%)

Jane Goodall (12.9%)

Marie Curie (9.68%)

Helen Keller (9.68%)

Susan B. Anthony (6.45%)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg (6.45%)

Hillary Clinton (3.13%)

Helen Suzman (3.23%)

other (3.22%)

I chose Greta Garbo. We all of course know of Garbo in the early days of Hollywood film making. But there's not a lot out there about how exactly she spent her time after retiring from the screen at a rather young age. A couple of years ago, I read the Barry Paris biography Garbo, and couldn't help but picture a feature film that speculated on the later years of Garbo's reclusive life in New York City.  And Meryl would get to do a Swedish accent! 

Eleanor Roosevelt would be a great one too. Of course it would have to be her later years, most likely after FDR passed, when Eleanor would've been 60. I've always thought it would be interesting to cover her relationship with reporter Lorena Hickock, which was rumored to be romantic. A while back I had thought how fun it would be to pair Miriam Margolyes with Meryl as the pair (I save Kathy Bates for the role of Elizabeth Cady Stanton in a biopic of Susan B. Anthony). We already have a taste of what Meryl would sound like as Eleanor, as she voiced her in the Ken Burns documentary The Roosevelts in 2014. It's a very distinct voice. Showtime is premiering a series entitled The First Lady sometime this year, with Gillian Anderson portraying Roosevelt. Maybe since Anderson portrayed the TV version of Margaret Thatcher in The Crown and Meryl the film version in The Iron Lady, they could do something similar with Eleanor. One can dream. 

Time will only tell if we get to see Meryl portray any of the above amazing women...or someone no one has thought of! 

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

"Don't Look Up" receives four Academy Award nominations

The nominees for the 94th Academy Awards were announced this morning, and Don't Look Up came away with four: 

Best Picture
Best Original Screenplay
Best Score
Best Film Editing

With this slate of nominations, it makes it three out of the last five years that Meryl has been in a Best Picture nominee, following 2017's The Post (for which she also received a Best Actress nomination) and 2019's Little Women. It also unfortunately ties her longest streak without being nominated for an acting award. The last time she went four consecutive years without getting a nod was 1991-1994. Unless she somehow has a film released this year and gets nominated (which I maintain is not an impossibility if Places, Please (or something else) is filmed this spring and is released fourth quarter), she will break that streak. 

I was hoping Leonardo DiCaprio would sneak in to the top five in Best Actor, but I think Javier Bardem snatched that last spot, deservedly. I also thought the "Just Look Up" might get a nod for Best Original Song, but it also failed to crack the list. 

The most-nominated films were The Power of the Dog (12 nominations), Dune (10), and both Belfast and West Side Story (7 apiece). 

Biggest surprises to me:

-Judi Dench over Caitriona Balfe for Actress in a Supporting Role (both in Belfast)
-No Ruth Negga in Supporting Actress (Passing)
-Jessie Buckley in Supporting Actress (The Lost Daughter)
-No Lady Gaga in Actress (The House of Gucci)
-J.K. Simmons in Supporting Actor (Being the Ricardos)

The Oscars ceremony will be held Sunday, March 27 in Los Angeles. 

Thursday, February 3, 2022

"Don't Look Up" receives four BAFTA nominations

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts announced its nominees for film this morning. Don't Look Up came away with four nominations:

Best Picture

Best Actor in a Leading Role (Leonardo DiCaprio)

Best Original Screenplay (Adam McKay)

Best Original Score (Nicholas Britell)

I think these are about what I was expecting. I don't think I would've been shocked had DiCaprio been left off the list. At this point, I would be shocked if the film didn't crack the list of nominees on Tuesday for Best Picture. Screenplay and Score obviously look good as well, and Leo may have solidified himself for the top five. 

Some surprises (or maybe "shockers" is a better word). Spencer getting ZERO nominations. Denis Villeneuve snubbed in director. No Nicole Kidman, Olivia Colman (what?!), Kirsten Dunst. Other than the Dunst snub, The Power of the Dog did very well, as did Dune. I was happy to see the love for Ann Dowd in Mass. That was my favorite performance of the year. 

I expect we'll see some (more) surprises on Tuesday! 

Thursday, January 27, 2022

"Don't Look Up" receives guild nominations

Don't Look Up scored nominations today from the Writers Guild of America for Best Original Screenplay, and from the Producers Guild of America for Best Picture. This news bodes very well for its chances for getting screenplay and best picture nods at the Academy Awards. Director Adam McKay was unfortunately left off the list with the Director's Guild. Good showing otherwise. 

Oscar nominations will come out a week from Tuesday (Feb 8), with PGA winners announced on March 19, and WGA on March 20. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Poll #13: Whom would you like to next see Meryl portray in a biopic?

Whenever we're in a sort of lull in casting news for Meryl, I tend to ruminate on possibilities of what might come. As Meryl approaches her 73rd birthday this summer, the options for roles, much less lead roles, are growing slimmer and slimmer. So often biopics don't portray people primarily in their old(er) age. But I suspect there are a handful of reasonable prospects our there still. I'm going to offer a few suggestions below and hope folks will feel right to add any I haven't listed or thought of. I'm purposely leaving Lilly Ledbetter, Diana Nyad and Golda Meir off the list, since pics of them have already been recently cast with other actors. 

Source material in general for meaty Streep roles is the key to us seeing her in good stuff and working with great directors. I've recently added a few novels to my to-read list with female protagonists over 60, which after reading I plan to comment on the blog about whether I think they'd be good fits for Meryl, were they adapted to the screen. Maybe Meryl will read my posts and snatch up the rights to one of them before Frances McDormand can swoop in and win her fourth (acting) Oscar it. 

Then there's always original screenplays. Like Places, Please. I still think it's weird how completely absent any talk of that project has been since it was first announced almost a year ago now. Hopefully we get some news about what next soon. Of course I'm also curious to learn exactly what Meryl's role will end up being in Extrapolations. Until then, fire away at the biopic role poll.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

"Don't Look Up" poised to be most-watched Netflix film of all-time

Don't Look Up broke a Netflix record last week with the highest number of viewing hours in a single week. After another 28 million this week, its total hovers around 250 million hours. Red Notice (with Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot and Dwayne Johnson) currently holds the record for most view hours in its first 28 days, with 364.4 million. If Don't Look Up can sneak out another 15 million view hours by Friday, it will break the record, which seems pretty likely at this point.  

Great milestone for this picture! Even though Meryl's not getting much, if any, individual attention for her role, I enjoy seeing the film doing well with audiences. BAFTA nominations will be announced two weeks from tomorrow and Oscar noms only five days after that!

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Cast of "Don't Look Up" earns SAG nomination

The Screen Actors Guild announced their nominations for film and television this morning. While Don't Look Up was left out of any individual noms, the cast cracked the top five for outstanding cast in a motion picture. Meryl is included in that of course, which, according to Deadline, is her (own) record-breaking 17th nomination in a feature film. 

I'm not super shocked that there were no individual nominees form the film. I thought Leo might sneak into the top five, but it's a stacked year for Best Actor, and we still may end up seeing him get recognized by the Academy. 

A few surprises:

The most glaring was the absence of Kristen Stewart for her performance in Spencer (not may favorite). Jennifer Hudson was a surprise in this category for Respect. I was similarly surprised to see Cate Blanchett get nommed in supporting in Nightmare Alley over Aunjanue Ellis in King Richard. Although I still fully expect to see Ellis up for an Oscar. Jean Smart showed up in Best Actress in a Miniseries or Television Movie, but I have to remember that they don't have supporting distinctions in these TV categories. Still, I wasn't expecting to see her, but much-deserved. The men of Belfast were shut out, as was the cast for The Power of the Dog. This last one is perhaps the most shocking, considering it's a leading contender for Best Picture, and all three main cast member were nominated today! How does it miss?! 

Loving all the love for Succession, Ted Lasso, and Mare of Easttown. 

The SAG awards will be simulcast on TNT and TBS on Sunday, February 27. 

Monday, January 10, 2022

Streep to be in only one episode of "Extrapolations"?

Thanks to a tweet from Jamie Michael Rogers, I was alerted to the fact today that IMDb only has Meryl's name linked to one episode of the upcoming limited series, Extrapolations for Apple TV+. I wasn't sure if this really meant anything, but when I look at the rest of the cast's bios, their names are all linked to the full set of eight episodes in the series. Seems strange that only Meryl's would be different, unless it's simply the case that she's only going to be in one episode. 

Being that hers is the only character for whom they've never given any information, I've wondered for  while if ultimately she was going to have a rather minor role. Seems like that might be the case if this info turns out to be true. It's certainly possible we're reading too much into things. But it would kind of make sense, considering they've apparently been filming for over a month, and Meryl's been busy with press for Don't Look Up (which by the way was shut out at the Golden Globes last night). 

Extrapolations may just turn out to be something Meryl joined more for the message than the work. 

Friday, January 7, 2022

"Don't Look Up" breaks weekly viewing record

Multiple sources have reported that Don't Look Up set a new record on Netflix for most-watched film in one week (and currently at #3 all-time views). This is not an insignificant feat, considering the reactions to the film have been so polarizing. But I suppose that's what helps get people to tune see what all the fuss is about!  

While I'm not obsessed with viewership for Meryl's films, these days part of my enjoyment of her films making good bank (even though this movie was barely in theaters) is that, in my perhaps my naive mind, she remains a commercial draw for her future films to ultimately find funding. That might be an overreaction, but I'm paranoid that with Meryl not exactly being a spring chicken that a sting of bad films will make it tougher for her films to get the green light. That was such a specific boon following the success of The Devil Wears Prada that I remember reading how Meryl was "besieged" with offers after that. Let's hope we get some similar effects from this one (even if to a lesser degree).  

I can't help but wish we could get a reasonable estimate on how much the views on Netflix would turn out to be at the box office. I'm so much more attuned to what that would mean when comparing to other successful films. 

In other news, the Golden Globes will not be livestreaming their awards this Sunday. Instead, sort of like other critics bodies do, they'll post their winners in "real time" on their website an social media. Fine by me, I guess. Although I would like to see them return to a live show next year and they can convince everyone that they're not a total and complete mess. 

Sunday, January 2, 2022

What's in store for 2022?

Happy New Year! As 2021 came to a close, people can't stop talking about Don't Look Up and the film is a big hit for Netflix. It's nice to see that although there were a lot of people who didn't like it, there are a lot of people who do, and it has sparked quite a bit of attention and discussion. It'll be fun to see how it fares in the upcoming months of awards season. SAG nominations come out on the 12th, and I think the cast has a decent shot at an ensemble nod. 

Beyond that, the Apple TV+ limited series Extrapolations is apparently already shooting (or maybe is done shooting?). There is still zero information on what Meryl's role is going to be, but it'd be nice if it were substantial in size. Tough to predict when we'll get to see this show, but I'm guessing it'll be the second half of this year, most likely fourth quarter. 

And speaking of zero information, that's what we've had about Places, Please since it was announced almost a year ago now that Meryl would be starring in it. I'm sure it's still possible that they'll pull it together. In fact, it seems the type of movie that wouldn't need a lot of time in post, so could reasonably shoot this spring and be released by the end of the year. By the way she and the would-be director, Michael Cristofer, were interviewed about it at the time of the announcement, it seemed like a pretty sure thing. There was obviously a director attached, they had producers (including Meryl, which is rare), and they apparently had a shooting start date planned for summer. Then it was radio silence. Considering that Cristofer has described the role of Lillian Hall as "extraordinary," I hope we get to see Meryl in this. 

How about beyond that? There are no new projects that have been revealed which Streep is expected to do. She's likely going to tie her longest streak of not being nominated for an Oscar this year (unless by some miracle she sneaks in for Don't Look Up). We know we'll continue to see her in stuff, but leading roles in things that aren't crap and going to be increasingly difficult to come by. Maybe we will see her producing more in order to ensure she's getting to play things she finds interesting and challenging.

Regardless of what's next, I look forward to a handful of meaty dramas. She's great in comedy of course, but my favorite Meryl is when she's in the deep stuff, which she hasn't done a ton of in recent years. Again the roles have to be there. But knowing that just within the next year we're going to see three biopics alone from women in her age demographic (Helen Mirren as Golda Meir, Patricia Clarkson as Lilly Ledbetter, and Annette Bening as Diana Nyad), it's not like these types of films aren't getting made. I love a good biopic, and it has been four years since she's been in in on (The Post). But I hope her next big role that garners a lot of attention and praise is for an original character. Maybe Places, Please will end up being that one.