You gotta feel for Meryl Streep.
Her recent box office successes and two Academy Awards for “Kramer vs. Kramer” and “Sophie’s Choice” aside, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has put America’s greatest living actress through the ringer. So much so that it’s probably more than you or I could take.
It’s been over 16 years since Streep won the Best Actress trophy for “Sophie’s” and in the intervening time span she’s been nominated another 11 times (15 total for those counting at home) and the New York City resident has continued to trek to Los Angeles only to lose again and again. At first, at least through the mid-90s, it didn’t seem like that big a deal because Streep was one of the rare actresses to have already won twice. Then, by the turn of the century, she’d been nominated for a few roles mostly by reputation only although you could argue she was robbed in 1996 for her performance in “The Bridges of Madison County” coming in second to the equally worthy Susan Sarandon in “Dead Man Walking.” Streep’s best chance at winning a third may have been in 2003 when her supporting role in Spike Jonze’ “Adaptation” lost out to Catherine Zeta-Jones who charmed her way to Oscar glory in “Chicago.” These days, especially after her nod for “The Devil Wears Prada,” any Streep performance is pretty much considered a contender. So that’s why the scuttlebutt will soon begin on Streep’s turn as Julia Child in the new romantic comedy “Julie & Julia.”
A split level story if there ever was one, “Julie & Julia” chronicles two different lives connected by one book. The contemporary story finds Amy Adams as Julie, a failed writer who decides to spice up her life by baking 365 recipes from Julia Child’s best-seller “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” and then blogging about it. The other storyline begin in Paris in the late 1940s and chronicles the origins of Child’s career as a chef and author. It’s clearly the most compelling part of the film and that’s mostly due to Streep’s charismatic portrayal as Child. But is it enough for yet another Oscar nomination? And lord, does she even want it?
Let’s be honest, a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical is in the can. The only question is whether Sony Pictures, producer Scott Rudin and Streep herself try to position the role as a supporting one because they feel that Oscar category is less competitive (a fact that remains to be seen at this date). On the other hand, with Streep finally verbalizing her understandable frustration of going through the process and loosing time and time again since Ronald Reagan was still in his first term (!), you wonder if she’ll pull an Oprah and make sure her name isn’t submitted for consideration this time around (for those playing at home, after winning numerous Daytime Emmy Awards for best talk show host, Oprah Winfrey no longer allows herself to be considered). Especially after loosing last year for “Doubt.”
Still, it’s hard to imagine the grand lady not getting into the awards season game and the performance is charismatic enough that a nomination is clearly possible, but it would be a big surprise if this is the role that awarded her a third statue. Watch the four clips from below and decide for yourself.
“Julie & Julia” opens nationwide this Friday.