Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Meryl Streep To Receive Honorary Golden Bear At The Berlin Film Festival

The Berlin Film Festival announced that it will bestow an honorary Golden Bear to Meryl Streep. Streep is to receive the award on February 14 at the Berlinale Palace.

Her latest film, The Iron Lady (Phyllida Lloyd, UK 2011), is slated to screen out of competition at this year's film-fest.

Additionally, the following five Meryl Streep films will be shown at select Berlinale theatres across Berlin to commemorate her honorary Golden Bear:

Kramer vs. Kramer (Robert Benton, USA 1979) is the film that put her on the map and the one for which she received her first (of two) Academy Awards. Though only starring in a supporting role, Streep gives a strong performance as the troubled Joanna, a wife and mother who decides to desert her husband and son. Deemed maudlin and mainstream at the time, watching the film today the decision taken by Streep's character seems actually revolutionary. It certainly is a part that's unthinkable to come out of mainstream Hollywood such as it is today.

Sophie's Choice (Alan J. Pakula, USA 1982) was one of the first big Hollywood films to address the topic of the Holocaust. It followed Streep's breakthrough in the US mini series, Holocaust, which is credited with raising the awareness of the mass murder of Jews during WWII, not only in the US but internationally. It wasn't until Holocaust was shown on television across West-Germany that films dealing with the Holocaust slowly started to emerge in that country.

Out Of Africa (Sydney Pollack, USA 1985). It was Streep's biggest hit to date and a huge success in West-Germany. It is also one her most memorable performances, earning her her fifth Academy Award nomination, though in the end Streep lost out to Geraldine Page. On the downside, Out Of Africa is partly responsible for the fact that following her, albeit captivating, performance of the ill-fated Danish writer Karen Blixen, Streep was frequently typecast in tragic roles, belying her extraordinary comic talent and wit.

The Bridges Of Madison County (Clint Eastwood, USA 1995) was the culmination of Streep's parts as the woman struck by tragedy. Though it undoubtedly is once again a very commendable performance by her, had it been up to me, I would have selected Death Becomes Her (Robert Zemeckis, USA 1992), a much underrated film and one which brilliantly showcases Streep's unique talent for camp.

A Prairie Home Companion (Robert Altman, USA 2005), aptly shows Streep's other talent as a singer, though again, to show that particular talent of hers I would have rather selected Silkwood (Mike Nichols, USA 1983), which has, in its end credits, a beautiful rendition of Amazing Grace, sung a capella by Streep. A Prairie Home Companion was Altman's last film. It had its world premiere at that year's Berlin Film Festival, with Streep in attendance.

Lastly, the Berlinale will screen Streep's latest, The Iron Lady (Phyllida Lloyd, UK 2011) which, it is my firm belief, will at long last earn her her third Academy Award: