Oscar Actors: Streep, Meryl–Hollywood’s Most Accomplished Actress

No screen personality demonstrates the validity of the “accumulative advantage” sociological theory as it prevails in showbiz better than Meryl Streep.

Hollywood’s hottest and most accomplished actress of the past generation, Streep has achieved stardom on stage, television, and film in an astonishingly brief period of time.

Right now, she holds the record of Hollywood’s most nominated actress, with 20 nods to her credit (in both the lead and supporting categories).

Upon graduation from the Yale School of Drama, she appeared in repertory at the Public Theater. For her Broadway debut, in the Phoenix Theater’s production of Tennessee Williams’s 27 Wagons Full of Cotton and Arthur Miller’s A Memory of Two Mondays, she received Tony and Drama Desk nominations and the Outer Critics Circle and Theatre World awards.

This auspicious beginning led to a bit part in the film Julia and to a major role in the TV series Holocaust, for which she received an Emmy. In 1978, Streep earned her first supporting nomination and the National Society of Film Critics Award for The Deer Hunter.

The turning point in Streep’s career occurred in 1979, with the release of Woody Allen’s “Manhattan” and Robert Benton’s “Kramer vs. Kramer,” which brought Streep her first Oscar and established her as a household name. In 1981, Streep made a smooth transition from supporting to leading roles in “The French Lieutenant’s Woman” (1981), which earned her a first Best Actress nomination.

In the following year, there was critical consensus that as the doomed Polish heroine in “Sophie’s Choice,” Streep rendered the bmost wrenching performance of the year, for which she won the Oscar and practically every film award.

In 1983, Streep won her fifth nomination for playing the title role in “Silkwood,” and two years later, she was singled out by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association for “Out of Africa,” winning for it her sixth Oscar nomination and the Cannes Film Festival Award.

Over the past decade, Streep has been labeled the queen of Oscar because of her spate of nominations: “Ironweed” in 1987, “A Cry in the Dark” in 1988, “Postcards from the Edge” in 1990, “The Bridges of Madison County” in 1995, “One True Thing” in 1998, “Music of the Heart” in 1999.

There’s no doubt, that in the next decade, Streep will surpass the critical recognition of Katharine Hepburn, with whom she ties the alltime record of twelve nominations (though Hepburn’s nominations are all in the Best Actress league, whereas two of Streep’s fourteen nods are in the Supporting category).

Indeed, Streep was nominated for Supporting Oscat for “Adaptation” in 2002, and for Best Actress for “The Devil Wears Prada” in 2006.