Already a Broadway star in revered revivals of Anton Chekhov and Tennessee Williams (and an Emmy winner for the earnest 1978 miniseries Holocaust), Streep steps warily into movies but nonetheless finds immediate success. The Deer Hunter (1978), a small role, is her first Oscar nomination, but it is in Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), playing a complex Manhattanite who chooses independence over motherhood, that she shows her way with tricky material.
The numbers alone are insane: 19 Academy Award nominations (unsurpassed), three wins and one Presidential Medal of Freedom. But even more impressively, Meryl Streep continues to find strange and wonderful ways to push herself in comedies, romances and some of the best movies of all time. This week, Hollywood’s finest actor plays the opera world’s worst singer in Florence Foster Jenkins (and somehow manages to turn that thankless role into a feast of sympathy). Not bold only onscreen, Streep recently displayed her support of Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention. But with so many great films to her name, we feel your eyes glazing over. Here’s where to begin.