Monday, January 19, 2015

Meryl Streep nominated for her first Academy Award—this year

by Sofia Squittieri, Writing Intern (with Germar Derron)

Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBCUniversal via Getty Images
Surprise! The academy has nominated Meryl Streep again. Again? Yes, again. One word explains her continued success—work.

She works. She’s good. No, she’s great. She delivers her best every time, and in every single performance. She gets even better with time--and work. Aspiring, and acclaimed actors look up to her. Julia Roberts, who worked with Streep in August: Osage County, said: “To work with Meryl Streep is a dream come true for anyone. To know her is an honor.” Chris Pine, who worked with Streep recently in Into The Woods—the newly nominated role—said, “She is everything that you want her to be. She is obviously, you know, Meryl Streep and mega talented.” Mastering your craft is powerful. Practicing, screwing up, starting over--working—leads to mastering.

Meryl Streep is considered a legend; she is a legend. Margaret Thatcher, and Julia Child, came back to life thanks to her performances. Audiences cried with Francesca Johnson in The Bridges of Madison County,  laughed with Lisa Metzger in Prime, and feared Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada. That same year, she danced, sang and jumped around as an immature, amusing, cute, irresponsible, and promiscuous mother of Donna in Mamma Mia! We watched her play a serious and contained Sister Aloysius Beauvier in Doubt. How is she able to maintain this versatility? What is her working method?

When asked about her acting method, in 2006, Streep said:
I have been smug and willfully ignorant. I've cultivated a deliberate reluctance to investigate my own method of working because I'm afraid of killing the goose. I'm afraid if I parse it I won't be able to do it anymore. Acting is an art that I find in its deepest essence to be completely mysterious.
 Anything I might add would just sound silly.

The Academy has nominated her 19 times already, including just last week. But she has “only” won three Academy Awards. Jack Nicholson, another talented workaholic actor has earned 12 nominations, resulting in three golden bald men. Sometimes the world isn't fair. Other actors undeniably deserve this award and have not won it yet. Leonardo DiCaprio works his fingers to the bone--since he was five. He deserved the award for The Wolf of Wall Street. But the Academy disagreed. And no matter how many actors deserve it, only one can have it.

But why are so many people concerned with winning an Oscar? What does it really mean? Does it mean the highest recognition of your work? It definitely improves the IMDB cred, but are we measuring work or fame?
There are two kinds of famous actors: 1) type one works and becomes famous because of that hard work. In this group, I would include actors like Sean Penn, Idina Menzel, Al Pacino, and Kate Winslet. Type 2 are famous and work because of that fame (e.g., Paris Hilton, Allison Williams). 

If there is a formula for good acting Ms. Streep has found it--or designed it.  And whether she wins or not, she probably understands that it’s not about the accolades but the work—a life’s work.


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