With the release of Iron Lady (limited release tomorrow and wide release January 13), there is already a lot of Oscar buzz surrounding this film. The major question looming is, “Will this movie get Meryl Streep her third Best Actress Oscar– and her first since 1983 for Sophie’s Choice?”
In Iron Lady, the 62-year-old Oscar winner stars as the former British prime minister, who in 1979 became the first female to hold the position.
There have been many Best Actor and Actress awards given to actors for their roles playing real life characters. Here are my top five favorites.
1. Daniel Day-Lewis as Cristy Brown in My Left Foot (1989) – If I were to take all Best Actor and Actress winners and pick one, this might win above all. Daniel Day-Lewis is just that good as Christy Brown, who is born with crippling cerebral palsy and cast aside, believed to be mentally disabled. Thanks to his mother and his own self determination, he becomes a poet and author, all with his only usable appendage, his left foot.
2. Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen (2006) – Helen gives a very touching performance, as the year is 1997 and Princess Diana has just been killed in a car crash. Mirren’s performance perfectly depicts the royal family’s struggle with their loss, all while still trying to lead a country.
3. Julia Roberts as Erin Brockovich in Erin Brockovich (2000) – In this great legal drama, Julia Roberts is perfect as a single unemployed mother who plays a pivotal role in a huge corporate case as a small-firm legal secretary.
4. Colin Firth as King George VI in The King’s Speech (2010) – England is on the verge of entering WWII and the king has just passed away. With the current heir wanting to go his own way, King Edward VIII gives way to King George II. The major problem, of course, is that King George has a speech impediment. Doing his best to work and overcome his deficiency, he delivers his speech and leads England into the war against Nazi Germany.
5. Forest Whitaker as Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland (2006) – Forest Whitaker is perfect as the leader of Uganda, who after an assassination attempt, becomes more chaotic and paranoid, leaving his country in bloody ruins. A truly scary performance!
I guess one can debate whether or not portraying a historical character is easier or more difficult than a completely fictional character. Yes, they may have more to pull from for inspiration, whether it be historical films or an interview with the real person. But it also means an actor can take fewer liberties in his or her performance. So, in my opinion, when portraying an historical figure, actors have a lot to live up to.
What’s your take on it? Who’s excited to see Meryl Streep in Iron Lady?
Just remember, no talking or texting during the movie.