Can ‘The Iron Lady’ compete for Oscar gold?

The Iron Lady (2011)

6.5/10  PG-13

Gwyneth Paltrow, Frances McDormand, and Cher are just some of the Best Actress winners since 1982, when Meryl Streep last won an Oscar. Since, she’s been nominated 12 times, including for her portrayal of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 2011’s The Iron Lady. A travesty? I think so. Finally, a chance has come for her to win again and reclaim that glory that has been well-deserved for 29 years. Unfortunately, her performance couldn’t save the British biopic from being quite an air biscuit.

With very swift chronological leaps, the story revolves around an aging Thatcher recalling her life in politics. In all but one of the strings (where Thatcher was played by Alexandra Roach), Streep plays the politician, the first female Prime Minister in the country’s history and the longest-serving of the 20th century. And she nails it. Looking at clips of Thatcher’s interviews, it seemed for a second that she was impersonating Streep. If the Academy can look past her talent and realize they’ve been missing glorious opportunities to reward not only a splendid actress but a humble, wonderful human being, Meryl Streep couldn’t possibly lose. And for that, I’d like to thank the Academy, God, my family, and Harvey Weinstein.

That’s why it’s such a shame the film was a dud. Nominated for Best Leading Actress and Best Achievement in Makeup (and rightly so, for both), The Iron Lady will have a tough time winning due to its lousy execution. Can the Academy ignore the blaring grunge rock soundtrack and radically unnecessary cinematography to rightfully award these key features of the film?

Streep as the British Prime Minister

And you can’t spell “chronological” without “logical,” can you? Weinstein’s The King’s Speech worked rather well, winning Best Picture last year after having a rather simple storyline, with a beginning that came before an end. Perhaps if the story led from her time in Parliament to Prime Minister to retirement in one straight ‘A’ before ‘B’ line, it could have boosted Streep’schances. But that’s just a suggestion.

Jim Broadbent, an Oscar winner in his own right, is delightful as Thatcher’s husband Dennis. His performance, of course, is over-looked, but it deserves attention. The rest of the supporting cast is similarly overshadowed by Streep’s Oscar buzz, but they are vital to the success of the film (what little success it achieved). Director Phyllida Lloyd (Mamma Mia!) reminds us that females can direct Oscar-nominated films, though the men seem to hog the directing limelight.

The Iron Lady fails to impress its viewers much, but that shouldn’t hurt Meryl Streep’s chances to reclaim Oscar glory. What did you think of The Iron Lady? Can Meryl Streep end her 29-year drought? Can a win in make-up mean an Oscar sweep?? Thanks for reading and make sure to subscribe for email updates at the bottom of your screen!

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6 thoughts on “Can ‘The Iron Lady’ compete for Oscar gold?

  1. Excellent review of the film and of Streep. She did win after all. I liked the The Iron Lady more than you but as I wrote in my review it was for Streeps and the supporting cast. The telling in reverse by showing Thatcher’s onset of dementia I found was a terrible non linear device. Worse yet it was disrespectful to this great leader. Perhaps we are meant to feel empathy for her. How the great have fallen. Its the film maker’s creative choice; one I debated at length with friends. In the end it spoiled the content.

    1. I agree wholeheartedly. I enjoy the occasional non-linear plot, but only if it’s handled gracefully. This time, it seemed to be thrown together rather messily. I am glad that Streep won, it was a pleasant surprise! Thanks for reading!

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