Meryl Streep in ‘The Bridges of Madison County’: A look back at her 10th Oscar nomination, the competition and the outcome

After steamrolling through the 1980s, racking up half a dozen Best Actress Oscar nominations, Meryl Streep experienced a more subdued reception in the early 1990s.
The decade started off on just the right note, with a ninth Oscar nomination for “Postcards from the Edge” (1990). Streep also garnered praise for her turn opposite Albert Brooks in “Defending Your Life” (1991). The picture, however, was not a box office success, drawing roughly the same interest in theaters as “She-Devil” (1989), which was deemed a bomb upon its release.

Streep’s next project was among her most ambitious to date – a big-budget horror-comedy from filmmaker Robert Zemeckis, whose success with the “Back to the Future” trilogy and “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” (1988) gave him the license to go as extravagant as his heart desired. As the glamorous, exceedingly conceited Madeline Ashton, Streep is a comic delight in “Death Becomes Her” (1992). Hyped as one of the big summer releases of 1992, however, “Death Becomes Her” scored only fair box office receipts

“Death Becomes Her” was a big, fat hit, however, in comparison to Streep’s next film, Danish director Bille August‘s screen adaptation of the Isabel Allende novel “The House of the Spirits” (1994). Despite a starry ensemble cast of Streep, Jeremy Irons, Glenn Close, Winona Ryder and Vanessa Redgrave, the film was panned by critics and ignored by audiences. With a $40 million price tag, the film managed to reap just over $6 million in box office receipts – a colossal disaster well worse than “Heartburn” (1986) and “She-Devil.”

Streep’s other 1994 release – the Curtis Hanson-directed adventure “The River Wild” – was not a failure on the level of “The House of the Spirits” but still met with a rather middling response.

While Streep searched for that next Oscar vehicle, Clint Eastwood – with whom Streep had never worked on a motion picture – was having stunning success. His western “Unforgiven” (1992) managed to even captivate audiences who’d never been terribly fond of his past work. The film won four Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director for Eastwood. He followed that up with a leading turn in Wolfgang Petersen‘s “In the Line of Fire” (1993), another hit.

After Eastwood’s “A Perfect World” (1993) drew a collective shrug from audiences and critics, the director turned to an unlikely source for his next project – Robert James Waller‘s best-selling novel “The Bridges of Madison County,” which focuses on the romance that blossoms between an Italian war bride in Iowa and the National Geographic photographer who rolls into town. While Waller advocated for Isabella Rossellini as the film’s leading lady, Eastwood wanted Streep from the get-go – a pitch-perfect selection, as he was about to capture one of Streep’s finest career performances, if not the best.

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply