I first watched a Golden Season (and cared about its results) in 2002. I had one concern and one concern only: seeing what would happen with The Fellowship of the Ring. I’m a massive Tolkien fan and ever since the movie was nominated, I wanted to find out if it would get any awards. As you all know, 2002 ended up being a slow year for The Lord of the Ring. The trilogy scored four Oscars, but nothing in the main categories. For me, on the other hand, the result was quite different. 2002 was the year I became obsessed with awards ceremonies. Ever since then, I have been religiously watching them every single year.
In 2003, I went back to my couch to see if The Two Towers would be luckier than its predecessor. Sadly, I was disappointed once again. It scored two prizes, less than Fellowship. Since I was so angry with the results, I decided to watch all the movies that had won in some category, to see if I was being unfair to them of if the Academy operated on a logic I didn’t quite understand. That’s how I got in touch with The Hours.Nicole Kidman was voted best actress playing Virginia Woolf in that movie, so I rented it. Even though I was much too young to fully understand the movie – I was 11 years old – I found it rather fascinating. It wasn’t Kidman, however, who got my attention, it was Meryl Streep. Her Mrs. Dalloway had me from the first minute. There was something about her I loved, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I thought her to be a great actress and admired her work, but didn’t instantly become a fan. After all, it was only much later I could appreciate the beauty of her scene with Claire Danes, that moment laying in bed when she talks about the beginning and the end of happiness.
Anyway, my very uncomplicated 11 year old life went on and Meryl stayed on the back of my head, not completely forgotten, but not entirely remembered either. It was only in 2006 that I saw her again on screen. The movie was The Devil Wears Prada and although it is far from being a masterpiece, her Miranda Priestly will forever be one of my favorite characters.
From then on I compulsively watched every single Meryl movie I could lay my hands upon. That’s how I ended up seeing The Bridges of Madison County.I had already seen a bunch of Meryl stuff, but mostly very fluffy movies. Death Becomes Her, The House of Spirits, Postcards from the Edge, all very cute stories, but not exactly able to show off the best of Ms. Streep. So when I saw her portraying Francesca, I cried nonstop for three hours. I don’t want to spoil the movie for those who haven’t seen it yet (GO WATCH IT, NOW!), so all I’ll say is it is my favorite movie of all time. Actually, it shares the spot with All About Eve (Bette Davis, who by the way inspired Meryl to become an actress, killing every single scene). Then it was Sophie’s Choice. And The Deer Hunter. Out of Africa. Silkwood. Kramer vs. Kramer.
As the Golden Season fan I already was, I went to IMDb to check which awards she had already won. It was then I found out she had two Oscars, but the last one was from Sophie’s Choice, in other words, it had been given to her in the 80’s. I honestly couldn’t believe it, just as I couldn’t believe Bette Davis had less awards than Katherine Hepburn – sorry, Hepburn fans, she is awesome indeed, but I can’t come to terms with the fact Davis didn’t win as Margo Channing.
This is how I’ve been waiting for Meryl to win an Oscar for six years. Helen Mirren took the prize home in 2007 playing The Queen– well deservedly. Kate Winslet in 2009 for The Reader – again, well deservedly. Sandra Bullock was awarded in 2010 for her performance in The Blind Side – I won’t even comment on that one. This year, Meryl has been nominated again. For the 17th time, she will be at the Kodak Theater waiting for the winners to be announced.
I must admit I was cheering for her from the moment she was nominated, before even before watching The Iron Lady. I had no idea if the movie was good or if her performance deserved to be awarded, but for me it was irrelevant. Since the Academy has a long tradition of giving the Oscar to people who deserved the prize in the past and didn’t get it, and Meryl certainly fits that category – you do remember Gwyneth Paltrow’s win for Shakespeare in Love, I assume, just to mention one – I simply wanted her to win.
Nonetheless, I went to the movies today to see Meryl’s performance. Now, not only do I want her to win, I will be furious if she doesn’t. Iron Lady isn’t exactly a movie, it is a performance. You most certainly have already read something about how underwhelming Phyllida Lloyd’s direction is and how the script is messy at some points and doesn’t follow a very clear timeline. If you haven’t, go to Rotten Tomatoes. However, I think critics should realize one thing: all the problems in the world won’t be able to diminish one simple fact: Streep is flawless as Margaret Thatcher. All you can see is her, all you can think about is her. Meryl herself said, on her BAFTA winning speech earlier this month, that the movie isn’t about Thatcher, the politician, it’s about Thatcher, the woman. It tries to show us there is always more to know about people, even about that person we are absolutely sure we know everything about.
Next Sunday, I will be sitting in front of the TV, hoping to see Meryl be awarded what she has deserved for quite some time: a third Oscar. This time, I believe she will take it home. If not, we will just add the night to the list of so many others in which not the best were celebrated, but the winners. Because the Academy chooses who takes the Oscar home, but it can’t “award” everything. It can’t decide who is the best. And no matter what happens on the 26th, Ms. Streep certainly is THE best.