With 17 Oscar nominations, Meryl Streep has joined the pantheon of great thespians but, despite being the most nominated actress in history, she has not won an Oscar since 1982.
This is the year that could break Streep's Oscar dry spell. Nominated for her leading role as Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady," Streep is considered by many to be the front runner.
Streep has never shied away from controversial roles. Once again, as Margaret Thatcher, she validates her acting pedigree.
Her every gesture, the intonation of her voice, all bring to life the former British prime minister.
Success is not new for this actress. On Feb. 12, she won a BAFTA Best Actress award, the British equivalent of an Oscar. In early December, she was honored by the Kennedy Center for her achievements over a lifetime.
Streep has been at it since childhood. She started acting in high school.
Meryl Streep as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady.”
Murray Horwitz, a playwright and former director of the American Film Institute, says Streep blossomed on the stage.
“She is, I think, the most talented actor I have ever seen when it comes to physical portrayals," he says. "And for this, you really have to have seen her on stage.”
But film made her famous.
Streep's first Oscar nomination was for her 1978 role in "The Deer Hunter," in which she played Linda, a working class woman touched by the war in Vietnam.
A year later, she starred opposite Dustin Hoffman in "Kramer vs. Kramer," about a family wrecked by divorce. She was Joanna, a mother who leaves her husband and child to find herself.
Streep received an Oscar as best supporting actress for the role. But she also earned the respect of her peers for standing up to the producer, director and co-star in softening the portrayal of Joanna.
In 1982, Streep won the Oscar for best actress for her title role "Sophie’s Choice." Streep offered a tour de force performance as the tragic woman, a survivor of the Nazi Holocaust. She went on to play in dozens of films and has garnered countless awards.
Murray Horwitz explains her success. “A Broadway producer said to me one time, the idea is to make the hard ones look easy and the easy ones look hard. And I think Streep does this very, very well. She doesn't let you know she's acting."
Her emotional and intellectual range landed her roles like the ourageous baroness in "Out of Africa," the eccentric lady in the children's film "Lemony Snicket," and as fashion dragon Miranda Priestly in the comedy "The Devil Wears Prada."
After the fashion icon, she became a Catholic nun in the drama "Doubt," and then the iconic chef of French cuisine Julia Child in "Julie and Julia."
“Every muscle, every twitch, every breath, it seemed was right," Horwitz says. "Her physical gifts and her ability to harness them, her ability to use them are just, I think, unmatched.”