Meryl Streep, the papess of cinema

From Journey to the Edge of Hell to the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, Meryl Streep has conquered the world of cinema to become an icon. Here’s a look back at the career of this American actress, whose successes are countless.


At the 77th Cannes Film Festival, after more than three decades of not attending the ceremony, Meryl Streep finally made the trip on Tuesday evening (15 May) to receive the honorary Palme d’Or. The actress received the award from Juliette Binoche, who gave a very moving speech. The applause from the audience lasted over 2 minutes 30 seconds, confirming her reputation. Meryl Streep will be able to place this distinction alongside her three Oscars (21 nominations), eight Golden Globe awards (33 nominations) and two BAFTA awards.


© Festival de Cannes 2024

Early career and first successes


Born in New Jersey in 1949, Meryl Streep studied drama at Yale University and obtained a Master of Arts, before joining the Phoenix Repertory Theatre in New York. In 1977, she landed her first film role in Fred Zinneman’s Julia, starring Jane Fonda.

Spotted by Robert de Niro, whom she greatly admired, she played his girlfriend in Voyage au bout de l’enfer in 1978, a film about the Vietnam War. Shortly afterwards, she flew to Austria and Germany to star in the mini-series Holocaust, about the Shoah.



In 1979, Meryl Streep played the role of a confused mother fighting for custody of her son in Robert Benton’s Kramer vs Kramer (1979), which won her a Golden Globe and an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. The film The French Lieutenant’s Mistress by Karel Reisz, in which she played two characters, was released in 1981.

This was followed by Death at Auction and Sophie’s Choice in 1982, in which she played a Polish survivor of the Nazi camps. This film won her an Oscar and a Golden Globe.


The Silkwood Mystery (1983) by Mike Nichols, Falling in Love (1984) by Ulu Grosbard, Out of Africa (1985) by Sydney Pollack, La Brûlure (1986) by Mike Nichols, Un cri dans la nuit (1988) by Fred Schepisi, She-Devil (1989) by Susan Seidelman, La mort vous va si bien (1992) by Robert Zemeckis… Meryl Streep went on to make a string of films, with varying degrees of success, but all of which demonstrated the artist’s full range of interpretations.



In 1995, she starred with Clint Eastwood, who also directed the film, in The Road to Madison, which received rave reviews from critics and audiences alike. The following year, she presented Jerry Zaks’ Simples Secrets with Leonardo DiCaprio, Diane Keaton and Robert de Niro, followed by Carl Franklin’s Contre-Jour (1998) and Wes Craven’s La Musique de mon cœur (1999).

The success of the 2000s


In 2002, she starred in Stephen Daldry’s The Hours, adapted by Spike Jonze. After several films and stage performances, Meryl Streep enjoyed one of the greatest successes of her career, reaching a wide and worldwide audience, for her role as Miranda Priestly in David Frankel’s The Devil Wears Prada, starring Anne Hathaway and Emily Blunt, in 2006. She brilliantly played the tyrannical, cold and work-obsessed editor-in-chief of the fashion magazine Runway. Even today, the film is one of the most popular in the fashion industry.



Two years later, she starred in Mamma Mia! the musical comedy directed by Phyllida Lloyd. She returned to the director in 2011 for The Iron Lady. She plays Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. The actress won an Oscar, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA.

John Wells’ A Summer in Osage Country and Rob Marshall’s Into The Woods were released in the following years. Steven Spielberg’s Pentagon Papers starring Tom Hanks was released in 2017. Meryl Streep was applauded by the public and won her third Oscar. In 2021, she shot Don’t Look Up with a five-star cast, including Léonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Timothée Chalamet and Cate Blanchett.



Unstable, traumatised, in love, powerful, cruel, light-hearted… The women Meryl Streep has played are as diverse as they are profound. The actress is renowned for always adding the personal touch that is so characteristic of her acting. Committed to equality between men and women, Meryl Streep has advanced the position of women in cinema, earning her this standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival a few days ago. A long film career that has established her in the pantheon of the greatest actresses of her generation.



Featured photo : © Festival de Cannes 2024

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