Friday, May 6, 2011

Meryl Streep in Silkwood

Meryl Streep received her fifth Oscar nomination for playing Karen Silkwood, a working woman who learns the shocking truth about the place where she works in the movie Silkwood. Under normal circumstances, I would say that Meryl received the second most votes but she had just won her second Oscar a year before. So I guess the Academy was not as eager to give her the third Oscar as they are now. I think only those voted for her who really loved her performance and people primarily voted for her because she was great.

Silkwood is a good film. I wouldn't say it's unforgettable but it's worth watching once or twice. Mike Nichols is a director who made some fantastic movies in the sixties, which are really unforgettable but in time his movies became a bit artificial (in the eighties, precisely). They want to give some social message and yet they don't want to give up on being really entertaining. Why eactly? Many people are blown away by Cher's performance in this movie and although I found her quite impressive, I don't think she should have won over Linda Hunt.

Meryl Streep is pretty much the Academy Award Queen. Or Award Queen, to put it precisely. She's really an awards magnet and I would be very surprised if she didn't win her third for The Iron Lady. OK, I know that they say the movie is gonna suck but come on. Meryl is quite technical and she's really someone who wants everything to be pitch-perfect in her performance. I guess that's sometimes a real advantage and sometimes it can go really wrong. It mostly works but sometimes it really doesn't. Plus, nowadays she has these role where she seemingly haves fun (It's Complicated, Mamma Mia!) and they are horrible though not only because of her.

Meryl seems to be at her prime nowadays but I think that's not really correct. Meryl is always at her prime and there was a period where she wasn't really herself (in the second half of the ninties). She became a major star in the eighties and receieved six Best Actress nominations in one decade. Silkwood came in this very prolific and succesful period of her career and it's become one of her most respected performances and it's always dangerous to write about such a work.

Karen Silkwood is a character who is quite interesting and the performer can benefit very much from that. She had a very mysterious death and as a result, the character herself has some kind of a mystery, too. Still, I think it was a great decision by the filmmakers to make Karen a very ordinary woman (I love using this word with 1983, I know). She's a bit vulgar, a bit unlikeable and so on. However, somehow Meryl wins our sympathy.

The technical part of this performance is just terrific and flawless. Amazing Grace is brilliantly sung by Meryl and it was very touching to hear it. Meryl worked extremely well with the accent, the mannerisms but that's something that you expect from Meryl. I especially loved the small ticks that she added to this character. Really, I couldn't say a single flaw in the technical part. Everything was just fine and excellently done by her.

I also loved how she developed the character. Karen discovers some really ugly facts about the dangers of the nuclear plant where she was working and the way she became more and more smart was fascinatingly handled by Meryl. This aspect of her performance really did benefit from Meryl's awareness and confidence. Karen's development is rather standard but Meryl makes it all very interesting.

And yet, as I said, I'm a tiny bit disappointed because this is a performance where I keep remembering Black Swan. Just like Nina Sayers, Meryl wanted to get everything just perfect and never lost herself completely. I felt that she was a bit too aware and in control. I felt that she's great enough to let this character go after a while. She could have been thoroughly mindblowing as she IS mindblowing in most of the scenes.

However, this doesn't mean that her acting is not gripping because it is. You don't really see Meryl Streep there, you really see Karen Silkwood, a very determined woman, who's willing to fight for justice. Plus, those shower scenes are brutally effective.

Nevertheless, I cannot deny Meryl's greatness as Karen Silkwood. Despite the fact that I wasn't totally blown away, I just cannot forget her whole performance. The technical part is, of course, flawless, it's just that I wasn't totally blown away by Meryl's whole achievement. Still, she's incredibly great and it's great to see Meryl play such an odd character. I'd really like to praise this performance as I feel it's really great and I most certainly loved her.

What do you think? I don't know when The Final Conclusion comes as the ranking is very hard.


Fritz said...

Well, so much for my prediction that everyone of them could win except for Julie! :-)

dinasztie said...

Yes, it's a bit funny (I hope this doesn't offend you). But it was also pretty much anyone's game and for a while, Meryl was my pick.