Meryl Streep won her third Oscar on Sunday for Best Actress for her role as controversial British MP Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady.
Her triumph makes her one of only five performers ever to win over three Academy Awards (an honor shared by Jack Nicholson, Ingrid Bergman, Walter Brennan and Katharine Hepburn). It was also the legendary actress's seventeenth nomination, and her first Oscar triumph since she won her second award for Sophie's Choice 29 years ago. Streep won her first Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 1979's Kramer vs. Kramer.
“When they called my name, I had this feeling I could hear half of America go, ‘Oh, no, why her again?’ But whatever,” Streep said, laughing.
“I really understand I’ll never be up here again, she continued. I look out here and I see my life before my eyes, my old friends, my new friends. Really, this is such a great honor but the think that counts the most with me is the friendship and the love and the sheer job we’ve shared making moves together.”
While Oscar buffs and movie fans may doubt that Sunday's Academy Award ceremony saw Meryl Streep's last acceptance speech (Hepburn, after all, still holds the record for four Oscars in her decades-long career), nobody is about to deny that Streep's amazing film career encompasses some of the most iconic roles in cinema for the second half of the twentieth century, a pattern she has already begun to continue as movies makes their way through the twenty-first.
In honor of Streep's third Oscar win, take a look back at her ten most iconic roles so far, from her newest part as power-wielding and power-hungry Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady to her heart-wrenching turn as Sophie in Sophie's Choice.
1. The Iron Lady (2011)
The British biographical film is based on the life of Margaret Thatcher, the longest serving Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of the twentieth century, directed by Phyllida Lloyd. The film also stars Jim Broadbent as Thatcher's husband Denis, and Anthony Head as Thatcher's longest-serving cabinet member and eventual deputy, Geoffrey Howe.
Trailer For The Iron Lady:
2. The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
This comedy film, based on the Lauren Weisberger novel from 2003, featured Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly, the editor-in-chief of Runway magazine. Feared and idolized by her staff and nearly everyone in the fashion world, Priestly can kill with a look or a phrase--but she often goes much farther than that.
The Devil Wears Prada: You Think This Has Nothing To Do With You.
3. Julie & Julia (2009)
Streep played the Julia Child portion of this comedy-drama film, directed by Nora Ephron and co-starring Amy Adams. Streep went beyond imitation to capture the legendary chef, with Stephanie Zacharek of Salon concluding that Streep isn't playing Julia Child here, but something both more elusive and more truthful — she's playing our idea of Julia Child.
Trailer For Julie & Julia:
4. Sophie's Choice (1982)
Some regard Meryl Streep's take on Sophie, a Polish immigrant harboring an unbearable secret in post-WWII Brooklyn, as her greatest role ever. Her interpretation of the character, based on William Styron's 1979 novel of the same name, focuses on the titular character and her lover Nathan, who share a boarding house with a young writer named Stingo before the trio's guilt, jealousy and intertwining pasts begin to unravel their seemingly idyllic life.
Trailer For Sophie's Choice:
5. The Hours (2002)
Based on the 1999 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same title by Michael Cunningham, the film focused on the lives of three women from different generations whose lives are interconnected and recreated by the novel Mrs. Dalloway, including its author Virginia Woolf. Streep played Clarissa Vaughan, a New Yorker hosting an award party for friend and poet Richard, a man slowly dying of AIDS.
The Hours: Always Giving Parties To Cover The Silence.
9. Out of Africa (1985)
Denmark native Karen Blixen falls in love with a free-spirited hunter after a marriage of convenience with a womanizing baron brings here to Nairobi, Kenya at the turn of the twentieth century. Co-starring Robert Redford as her lover, Streep gave a masterful performance in a film cutting between six loosely connected episodes in Karen's life, woven throughout by her own narration.
Trailer For Out Of Africa:
7. Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)
Adapted by Robert Benton from the novel by Avery Corman, Kramer vs. Kramer focuses on the story of one couple's divorce and struggle for custody for their son. The film won Streep her first Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, as well as winning Best Actor, Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Director, and was widely praised for clearly and tenderly addressing the shifting perspective people had of motherhood and fatherhood in the 1970s.
Kramer vs. Kramer: I'm Leaving You.
8. The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981)
Directed by Karel Reisz and adapted by playwright Harold Pinter, the film is based on the novel by John Fowles, combining the original story of Sarah Woodruff and Charles Smithson in Victorian England with the story of two actors, also in love, playing them on the screen in the early 1980s. Meryl Streep starred opposite Jeremy Irons as Sarah and the actress Anna, playing both the tragic and the happy endings for the film that Fowles envisioned for the original book. Streep's portrayal of both a fallen woman in the 1800s and an actress in the midst of an affair earned her widespread praise from critics and contemporary audiences.
Trailer For The French Lieutenant's Woman
9. Silkwood (1983)
Based on the true story of Karen Silkwood, who died in a suspicious car accident while investigating the Kerr-McGee plutonium plant where she worked, Streep mesmerized and horrified audiences with the story of a woman whose work trying to prove the dangers of exposure to radiation consumes her as she fights with her former common-law husband to have more access to her three children.
Trailer For Silkwood:
10. The Bridges of Madison County
Meryl Streep starred as Italian war bride Francesca Johnson, whose four-day affair with a National Geographic photographer, played by Clint Eastwood, is discovered by her children after her death. Told through her diary, the movie focuses on the impact the affair, which took place while her husband and children were at the Illinois State Fair, had on Francesca, and on the effect it has on her husband and children.
The Bridges of Madison County: It Doesn't Scare You, Though? Being Alone?
10. The Manchurian Candidate (2004)
It's hard to choose just ten films that capture Meryl Streep's ability as an actress, or that can limit the parts she has played down to eleven iconic roles. This film almost missed the cut due to Angela Lansbury's own mesmerizing performance in the same role in the original 1962 film, but Streep's rare villainous turn as the ruthless Sen. Eleanor Prentiss Shaw is worth highlighting, and reveling in.
The Manchurian Candidate: Decisions