Wed. Aug 5th, 2020

2018 Oscars: Is this the year Meryl Streep finally misses?

The always venerable Meryl Streep finally vulnerable in an Oscar race?

I feel like we have this discussion every other year. Will the Academy’s most-nominated actress finally fail to earn an Oscar nomination? Inevitably, every time we do we acquiesce to the fact that, yes, she’s getting nominated. Look at last year: Florence Foster Jenkins was a cute film and a nice performance from Streep but she was unmovable when it came nomination time and we found out that it was Amy Adams in Arrival, a Best Picture and Best Director nominated film, who was snubbed. Both had every precursor (SAG/GG/BAFTA) in her pocket. FFJ only had one other nomination to its name, as is often the case for Streep. In the majority of her nominations she’s either the only one or one of two, that’s how strong she is.

So what’s different about this year? Despite great reviews, both for the film and her performance, The Post was such a late-breaking film that most awards bodies and critics groups did not see the film in time or even receive screeners. When they did, they were fraught with everything from weird encoding to signature-only deliveries to awards bodies members. So limited was the visibility of the film that it didn’t receive a single Screen Actors Guild nomination. She received a Golden Globe nomination (which she lost) and the film received a PGA nomination (which it won’t win) but, like SAG, the film was also snubbed entirely by BAFTA.

In the post-SAG era, Streep has never gotten an Oscar nomination after having only earned a Golden Globe nomination first. In the pre-SAG era she did it three times: Postcards from the Edge, A Cry in the Dark and Ironweed. Every Oscar nomination she has received in the post-SAG era was a combination of SAG/BAFTA, SAG/GG or all three, with the exception of Adaptation. It’s an extraordinary exception too, as she won the Supporting Actress GG for that role (while also being nominated in Lead for The Hours) and was also BAFTA-nominated. She was submitted in Lead at SAG for Adaptation. and Supporting for The Hours and missed both.

Here’s one of the strangest elements of all of this. Streep’s nominations rarely line up with a coinciding Best Picture nomination. In fact, the last time was 32 years ago, for 1985’s Out of Africa. The Post, by all means would and should be her first since then. She’s rarely had a film with this much prestige and Oscar power behind it but the rushed production was not fast enough to be seen in time. Oscar nomination voting is happening right now, it ends today, in fact. It’s reasonable to think that even though most awards bodies missed out on the film that Academy members, who have given Meryl Streep 20 nominations and three wins, are going to search through their screener list (or see it in the theater) and vote her in. But still, what a fumble from 20th Century Fox on this one. While it’s understandable that the production start (May 30th), wrap and post-production were incredibly fast, it was clearly too ambitious even for Spielberg, who is also in post with Ready Player One.

Let’s look at her competition: Saoirse Ronan, Frances McDormand, Sally Hawkins and Margot Robbie are in likely Best Picture contenders too. All hit SAG as Best Actress nominees. All are in likely Best Picture nominees. What will work in Streep’s favor is that past that list her challengers aren’t as formidable. Judi Dench (Victoria and Abdul) was the 5th Best Actress SAG nominee but her film has woefully underperformed at the guilds and, amazingly, she was snubbed at BAFTA, of all places. Jessica Chastain (Molly’s Game) has become one of the most vocal women’s activists in the business, and her film has over-performed at the guilds (PGA and ACE noms, along with WGA) but she’s coming in with just a Golden Globe nomination as well. After that, anyone else breaking in would be a shocker.

Here are Meryl Streep’s 20 Oscar-nominated performances and the precursors that got her there. Will she get in again?

Film SAG Golden Globe BAFTA Lead /Supporting
Florence Foster Jenkins X X X Lead
The Iron Lady X X X Lead
Julie & Julie X X X Lead
Doubt X X X Lead
The Devil Wears Prada X X X Lead
Into the Woods X X Supporting
Music of the Heart X X Lead
One True Thing X X Lead
The Bridges of Madison County X X Lead
Adaptation. X X Supporting
Pre-SAG era
Out of Africa X X Lead
Silkwood X X Lead
Sophie’s Choice X X Lead
The French Lieutenant’s Woman X X Lead
Kramer vs. Kramer X X Supporting
The Deer Hunter X X Supporting
Postcards from the Edge X Lead
A Cry in the Dark X Lead
Ironweed X Lead
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