Arts & Culture

The 13 Best Meryl Streep Movies of All Time

A look back at the Hollywood legend's famed film roles.
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Over the course of her nearly 50-year career, Meryl Streep has captivated audiences with her riveting on-screen presence, earning her three Academy Awards and over 30 Golden Globe nominations, eight of which she won. From waitressing to pay her way through school at Yale at the age of 26 to becoming one of the most renowned actresses of her time, Meryl Streep has demonstrated what it means to work your way to the top.

Here's a list of Streep's best work on the big screen.

1. The Deer Hunter (1978)


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In this legendary war drama, Streep stars as the girlfriend of a steelworker (played by Christopher Walken) and the love interest of another man (Robert De Niro) who are both preparing to leave for Vietnam. Her performance was so striking, it earned Streep her first Academy Award nomination, and though she didn't win, the film signified that Streep was well on her way to Hollywood superstardom.

2. Manhattan (1979)


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Hailed as one of the best films Streep has ever been a part of—even though she only has about four minutes of actual screen time—Manhattanfollows the love triangle between a high school girl, a twice-divorced television writer, and his wife, who left him for a woman.

3. Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)


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Kramer vs. Kramer handles the topic of divorce in a way no film like it had before. While Streep's character could have been easy to hate, her achingly real performance won Streep her first Oscar.

4. Sophie's Choice (1982)


A tearjerker, Sophie's Choice sees Streep playing a Holocaust survivor forced to choose between two lovers. Streep's mournful, powerful performance earned her the Academy Award for Best Actress.

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5. Silkwood (1983)


Streep stars as Karen Silkwood, a woman who works at a processing plant in Oklahoma and draws attention to the fact that she and her co-workers are being exposed to high levels of radiation. In a role that deviates from her typically sensitive characters, Streep's performance is both hilarious and haunting.

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6. A Cry in the Dark (1988)


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In this fact-based film, Streep plays a mother accused of killing her own child. While the movie could have easily been dismissed as a mockable take on a true story, casting Streep as the lead role transformed it into a heart-wrenching drama about a grieving mother's struggle.

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7. Defending Your Life (1991)


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Charming, funny, and incredibly real, Streep's character Julia is a shoo-in for getting into the pearly gates of heaven. She absolutely steals the show in this film about a man caught in limbo who must defend the life he lived on Earth in order to get in heaven.

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8. Death Becomes Her (1992)


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An outrageous and effect-heavy dark comedy, Death Becomes Her is decidedly different from Streep's other works. Shallow, vindictive, and vain, Streep's character showcases her comedic side as she battles her frenemy, played by Goldie Hawn, on their quest for eternal youth.

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9. The Bridges of Madison County (1995)


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The Notebook has nothing on Streep's passionate performance as a midwestern housewife having an affair with a traveling photographer, played by Clint Eastwood. The film follows two soul mates who met at the wrong time, making for a surprisingly sweet love story.

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10. One True Thing (1998)


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If ever there was a movie to watch with your mom, this is the one. Streep plays a mother dying of cancer whose estranged daughter Ellen comes home to care for her in her last days. In the time they spend together, Streep’s character Kate reveals glimpses of her true self to Ellen, ultimately bringing them closer together.

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11. Adaptation (2002)


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Streep plays real-life journalist Susan Orlean, whose best-selling book is being adapted into a movie by a frustrated screenwriter (Nicolas Cage.) Her performance earned Streep a Golden Globe and marked her 13th Oscar nomination.

12. The Devil Wears Prada (2006)


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In this book-based film, Streep shines as Miranda Priestly, a terrifying fashion editor whose blasé attitude and judgmental expression leave her new personal assistant, Andy (Anne Hathaway) shaking in her Louboutins. Never has Streep come off as more frighteningly powerful, creating an unforgettable pop culture icon.

13. The Post (2018)


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In her latest on-screen work, Streep plays journalist Katharine Graham, the first female publisher of The Washington Post. As Graham races to expose a massive cover-up of government secrets that span the course of four U.S. presidencies, Streep puts on a superb performance that rivals even some of her best work.

*This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com
*Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors

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Chanel Vargas
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