Meryl Streep is widely considered to be the greatest living actor. With 88 acting credits to her name, she has been nominated for a record 21 Academy Awards, of which she has won three (plus eight Golden Globes out of 32 nominations). As you can probably imagine, this makes creating a ranking of Meryl Streep’s best films a bit difficult. They’re nearly all really good. Still, we consulted the thousands of reviews made by IMDb users to come up with this list: the 30 best Meryl Streep movies, ranked. Did you favorite make the list?
1. Angels in America
Topping our list of Meryl Streep’s 30 best movies is Angels in America, a TV movie from 2003 about the 1980s A.I.D.S. crisis. Based upon Tony Kushner’s award-winning play, Angels in America attracted a number of big stars, including Al Pacino, Emma Thompson, and Mary-Louise Parker, to name a few.
2. The Deer Hunter
Director: Michael Cimino
Released just three years after the official end of the Vietnam War, The Deer Hunter is a gritty war drama which examines the ways in which the conflict impacted and disrupted the lives of people in a small Pennsylvania town. Streep plays Linda, the girlfriend of an abusive former soldier played by Christopher Walken. The film received the Academy Award for Best Picture, and Streep was nominated for her supporting role.
3. Little Women
Director: Greta Gerwig
Meryl Streep’s third best film, according to IMDb members, is one of her most recent. Based on the classic novel by Louisa May Alcott, Little Women is the coming-of-age story of Jo March and her three sisters, each of whom is determined to live life on her own terms. Streep portrays the girls’ spinster aunt. Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, and Laura Dern also star.
Director: Woody Allen
Written by, directed by, and starring Woody Allen, Manhattan tells the complicated tale of a divorced television writer who’s dating a teenage girl, but in love with his best friend’s mistress. Streep plays Allen’s [second] ex-wife, Jill, who just happens to be writing a tell-all book about their tumultuous relationship.
5. Kramer vs. Kramer
Director: Robert Benton
Based on the novel by Avery Corman, Kramer vs. Kramer is the heart-wrenching story about a couple, Ted and Joanna Kramer, who enter into a heated custody battle over their young son, Billy. Kramer vs. Kramer took home an impressive five Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, and Best Actress. Justin Henry, the 8-year old actor who plays Billy, was also nominated, but didn’t win.
6. Fantastic Mr. Fox
Director: Wes Anderson
Wes Anderson took on the task of adapting Roald Dahl’s classic children’s novel, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, for the big screen, and according to IMDb members, he did a great job. The unique animated film stars George Clooney as the titular character, and Streep as his wife, Mrs. Fox. The movie tells the story of a fox who can’t resist raiding the local farm, but then must help his community survive the farmer’s retaliation.
Director: Spike Jonze
Adaptation. is the complicated dramedy about a lovelorn screenwriter who becomes more and more desperate as he fails to adapt author Susan Orlean’s book, The Orchid Thief into a screenplay. But get this: the screenplay for Adaptation. was written by Charlie Kauffman, and in the film Nicolas Cage plays none other than Charlie Kauffman. And what book is Adaptation. loosely based on? That would be The Orchid Thief, by real-life author Susan Orlean, portrayed in the film by Meryl Streep.
8. Sophie’s Choice
Director: Alan J. Pakula
Sophie’s Choice is the “shattering” story of Sophie, a survivor of a Nazi concentration camp, who has rediscovered the will to live in her relationship with Nathan, an American Jew obsessed with the Holocaust. But Sophie harbors a terrible and guilt-ridden secret about her experiences during the war. Sophie’s Choice earned Streep Best Actress awards at the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, and BAFTAs, among a slew of others.
9. The Bridges of Madison County
Director: Clint Eastwood
In The Bridges of Madison County, Streep portrays Francesca Johnson, a bored housewife and mother whose world is turned upside down when photographer Robert Kincaid comes to her small town. Clint Eastwood, who stars as Robert, also directed this film, which was nominated for Best Motion Picture – Drama at the Golden Globes.
Director: John Patrick Shanley
Starring Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams, Doubt is about a Catholic school principal who dares to question a priest’s ambiguous relationship with a troubled young student. Based on director John Patrick Shanley’s own stage play, Doubt was nominated for five Academy Awards, including acting Oscars for Streep, Hoffman, Adams, and supporting actress Viola Davis.
11. The Hours
Director: Stephen Daldry
Based on the bestselling novel by Michael Cunningham, The Hours is about how Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway has affected three generations of women, each of whom has had to deal with suicide in her life. Streep stars alongside Julianne Moore and Nicole Kidman. the latter of whom won the Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Woolf.
12. Out of Africa
Director: Sydney Pollack
Based on Karen Blixen’s classic memoir, Out of Africa takes place in 20th-century colonial Kenya, and tells the story of a Danish baroness who falls in love with a free-spirited big-game hunter. Robert Redford stars as the hunter, Denys.
13. The Post
Director: Steven Spielberg
Released amid the “fake news” headlines of 2017, The Post is the true story of the country’s first female newspaper publisher, and a hard-driving editor. They join together to publish the story of a cover-up that spanned four U.S. presidents. Streep stars as publisher Kay Graham, while the editor is portrayed by Tom Hanks.
14. August: Osage County
Director: John Wells
Based on the play by the same name by Tracy Letts, August: Osage County is the chaotic story of the Weston family. A crisis brings the extended family members back home to Oklahoma in the heat of August, where tensions run high and dark secrets are revealed. Streep plays Violet, Weston family matriarch. The movie also stars Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Sam Shepard, and Benedict Cumberbatch, to name but a few of the all-star cast.
15. Defending Your Life
Director: Albert Brooks
Albert Brooks wrote, directed, and stars in this fantastical comedy about an afterlife which requires the recently deceased to defend their lives in a court-like setting. Streep plays Julia, a woman with whom Brooks’s character, Daniel, falls in love. The problem is that while Julia looks like she’ll pass her judgement and move onto Heaven, Daniel is afraid he’ll be sent in the other direction.
Director: Mike Nichols
Silkwood is based on the terrifying true story of Karen Silkwood, a worker at a plutonium processing plant who is purposefully contaminated, psychologically tortured, and possibly murdered to prevent her from exposing worker safety violations at the plant. Co-starring Kurt Russell, Cher, and Craig T. Nelson, Silkwood was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Actress in a Leading Role for Streep.
Director: Fred Zinnemann
Julia is the true story of playwright Lillian Hellman, who agrees to help her childhood friend, Julia, by smuggling money into Germany to aid the anti-Nazi movement. Streep co-stars as Anne Marie, while the two female leads are played by Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave.
18. Julie & Julia
Director: Nora Ephron
Based on the non-fiction book by Julie Powell, Julie & Julia is about a blogger’s challenge to cook all the recipes in Julia Child’s famous cookbook. Interspersed throughout Julie’s story is the story of Julia Childs herself, from lonely expat to one of the most beloved chefs of all time. Streep’s portrayal of Julia Childs earned her an Oscar nomination and a win at the Golden Globes.
19. One True Thing
Director: Carl Franklin
One True Thing stars Renée Zellweger as Ellen Gulden, a tough New Yorker who leaves her job and her boyfriend in order to take care of her mother, played by Meryl Streep, who has recently been diagnosed with cancer. William Hurt, Tom Everett Scott, and Lauren Graham round out the all-star cast of this movie, which earned Streep Best Actress nominations at the Oscars, Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild Awards, and Blockbuster Entertainment Awards, to name a few.
20. The French Lieutenant’s Wife
Director: Karel Reisz
In The French Lieutenant’s Wife, Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons portray a couple of married actors who are hired to play a couple in love in the Victorian era. Soon, the two begin to feel as if fiction is weaving into reality. The romantic drama earned five Oscar nominations, including a Best Actress nod for Streep.
21. The Devil Wears Prada
Director: David Frankel
Arguably Meryl Streep’s most quotable movie, The Devil Wears Prada features the actress as the cold and cruel — yet totally delightful — Miranda Priestly, intimidating editor-in-chief of a high fashion magazine. Known for terrorizing anyone and everyone who works for her, Miranda hires a wannabe journalist, played by Anne Hathaway, as her new assistant. The Devil Wears Prada earned Streep yet another Oscar nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role.
Director: Sarah Gavron
Meryl Streep is just one of a slew of big-name actresses in Suffragette. Taking place in London in 1912, the historical drama tells the story of a young working mother who becomes a passionate advocate for women’s voting rights. Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, and Romola Garai also star.
23. The House of the Spirits
Director: Bille August
Based on the bestselling novel by Isabel Allende, The House of the Spirits is about a rancher and his clairvoyant wife as they face a series of turbulent years in South America. The film also stars Winona Ryder, Antonio Banderas, Jeremy Irons, and Glenn Close.
24. A Cry in the Dark
Director: Fred Schepisi
In A Cry in the Dark, Streep plays Lindy, an Australian mother whose young child is killed in a dingo attack. When Lindy is accused of murder, she must put everything on the line to defend herself. The film is based on the controversial true story of Lindy Chamberlain, who claimed she witnessed a dingo stealing her baby daughter from their campsite.
25. Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events
Director: Brad Silberling
Based on the fantastical children’s series of the same name, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events is about three orphaned siblings who are delivered into the custody of their [possibly insane] cousin, Count Olaf, who is secretly plotting to steal their parents’ fortune. Streep plays kind, but loopy, Aunt Josephine, while Count Olaf is masterfully portrayed by Jim Carrey.
26. Florence Foster Jenkins
Director: Stephen Frears
Florence Foster Jenkins is a biographical comedy about the New York City heiress who dreamed of becoming a famous opera singer. Unfortunately, she has a truly terrible singing voice. Streep portrays the real-life Jenkins, alongside Hugh Grant who plays her devoted, if not completely loyal, husband. The Academy Awards and the Golden Globes both rewarded Streep’s performance with Best Actress nominations.
27. Music of the Heart
Director: Wes Craven
In Music of the Heart, Streep plays Roberta, a high school teacher who struggles to teach the violin to kids at her school in inner-city Harlem. The film, which was nominated for two Academy Awards (Best Actress for Streep and Best Original Song), also stars Gloria Estefan, Aidan Quinn, and Angela Bassett.
Director: Gavin Hood
Rendition features a powerhouse cast that includes Streep, Reese Witherspoon, Jake Gyllenhaal, Alan Arkin, and Peter Sarsgaard. The film begins with a bombing in North Africa which leaves 19 dead, including an American. When an Egyptian living in the U.S. is apprehended and blamed, his wife raises hell to bring out the truth.
29. …First Do No Harm
Director: Jim Abrahams
….First Do No Harm aired as a television movie in 1997. Starring Streep, Fred Ward, and Margo Martindale, …First Do No Harm is about a mother who must fight a narrow-minded medical establishment to gain an alternative treatment to help her young son’s epilepsy. Streep was nominated for her performance in the leading role at the Golden Globes and the Primetime Emmy Awards.
30. Marvin’s Room
Director: Jerry Zaks
In Marvin’s Room, Streep stars as Lee, the mother of an angry teenage son played by a young Leonardo DiCaprio. When Lee’s estranged sister, Bessie (Diane Keaton), comes back into her life, the two sisters reconnect and find that their newfound respect has a positive influence on Lee’s son. Robert De Niro, Cynthia Nixon, and Margo Martindale co-star.
And which Meryl Streep movies didn’t make our list? The Iron Lady, for which Streep won her third Best Actress Oscar, comes in at #43, while popular musical hits Mamma Mia! and Into the Woods ranked numbers 44 and 59, respectively.