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!