Christmas is the perfect time of year to get some serious movie watching done, and there’s no better indicator that a film will leave you satisfied than the inclusion of Meryl Streep.
She’s racked up over 60 flicks in her long career, meaning there’s one for every possibly holiday mood, from feel-good tinsel-tastic to “bah, humbug” and back again.
We’ve compiled a handy list of the best Meryl movies to suit your festive disposition.
1. Mood: Christmassy
We don’t know why, but there’s something inherently festive about animated films, especially ones using stop motion. Add to that the fact this is an adaptation of a Roald Dahl story, and features talking animals (including a female fox with Meryl’s exact intonation), and you’ve got all the ingredients for a cosy, cockle-warming couple of hours.
2. Mood: Missing the Sun
In the depths of midwinter it can be easy to forget that the big ball of fire in the sky ever existed. But 2008’s Mamma Mia! is as good a solar pick-me-up as any UV lamp. It’s one hour and 49 minutes of Greek sunshine, sea and (ahem) songs, all by Swedish power-pop band ABBA. It’s impossible not to delight in just how much fun Meryl’s having.
3. Mood: Lonesome at Christmas
However sorry you feel for yourself, rest assured that Woody Allen feels a lot sorrier, and boy does he have a lot to say about it in Manhattan. Okay, so Meryl’s only in it for a few scenes (as the lesbian ex-wife of Woody’s character), but that Gershwin soundtrack will have you forgetting your blues in no time.
4. Mood: Vowing Eternal Abstinence
Christmas can be a time of over-indulgence, prompting many to vow never to touch another chocolate or mince pie again. If this is you, then may we suggest 1990’s Postcards from the Edge? Meryl stars as recovering drug addict Suzanne Vale in this hilarious comedy adapted by Carrie Fisher from her own semi-autobiographical novel of the same name.
5. Mood: Recovering from a Family Rift
Christmas is a time for family, but being under the same roof can put strain on even the happiest brood. If that’s the case, cheer yourself up by watching this classic 1979 film about two dueling parents, played to perfection by Meryl and Dustin Hoffman.
6. Mood: Craving Some Brain Food
At first glance, 1981’s The French Lieutenant’s Woman looks like a standard Victorian period piece, but it’s intercut with the modern-day love story playing out between the two lead actors “Mike” (Jeremy Irons) and “Anna” (Meryl). It’s as postmodern as that other meta masterpiece Meryl stars in, Adaptation, but the windswept harbor, that famous black cape and oaths of undying love make it that little bit more Christmassy.
7. Mood: Wistful
Meryl plays country singer Yolanda Johnson in 2006 film, A Prairie Home Companion — an offbeat Robert Altman comedy about the goings on behind-the-scenes of Garrison Keillor‘s beloved radio show. Alongside her loopy sister (Lily Tomlin), Yolanda is every bit the weary, resilient country star who’s experienced a lot of heartbreak.
8. Mood: Bah humbug
The closest Meryl comes to playing Ebeneezer Scrooge is the monstrous Sister Aloysius Beauvier in 2008’s Doubt. A smug busybody convinced that the school’s priest (Philip Seymour Hoffman) may have had an inappropriate relationship with a student, she is self-righteous, stubborn and the very opposite of the spirit of Christmas. Recommended for those whose own Christmas spirit is on the ebb.
9. Mood: Romantic
Quite possibly the most passionate story ever put to film, 1995’s The Bridges of Madison County was adapted from a mega-selling romance novel of the same name. Set in 1960s Madison County, Iowa, it tells the story of a middle-aged woman who rediscovering what it means to fall madly in love (and lust) when photographer (Clint Eastwood) comes to town. Settle in and get cosy: The swoon factor here is off the charts.
10. Mood: Looking for Action
For some people, Christmas equals action movies, and the annual airing of Die Hard is as traditional as It’s a Wonderful Life. Want to add a heart-thumping gem to your Christmas watch list? We recommend 1994’s The River Wild. The closest thing to an action film Meryl’s made, she plays a wife and mother who must protect her family during a whitewater rafting trip after they befriend fellow outdoorsmen (Kevin Bacon and John C. Reilly), who turn out to be dangerous criminals on the run.
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