The moment we've all been waiting for is finally, finally here.
Reflecting on the last TWO MONTHS of my life that have been devoted to this Madness (I began this endeavor on March 4th, and am finishing it May 1st), I am realizing just how much I've learned about acting. I wish I'd done something like this in ~theatre school~ because it's taught me exactly what I value in a performance, and it's not exactly what I expected.
I definitely got my roots started in the sexy allure of The Method: it wasn't "real acting" unless you Totally Transformed, unless you were Literally Unrecognizable, and most of all, unless it Physically And Emotionally Scarred You. I thought ~REAL ART~ was supposed to hurt, was supposed to cost you. Like an ancient god you had a to pay a price to in the form of a human sacrifice.
But watching some 30 Meryl movies in 40 days taught me this simply was not the case. As much as I acknowledge the skill that goes into it, I didn't care for Meryl With An Accent. It was an extraordinary an achievement to give such an emotionally naked performance under a literal prosthetic MASK in The Iron Lady, but it was by no means my favorite, and I'll probably never watch it again.
Part of my early deification of The Method probably had a lot to do with my utter disdain for actors who basically just played themselves in every role - the Cameron Diazes of the world, or the Tom Cruises. How can you call that "acting?"
But when it really came down to the last few brackets, I found that that's what I was truly searching for in each performance: where was Meryl? I didn't want to go hunting for her under layers of accents and prosthetics and "disappearing into the role." I wanted to see MERYL, in all her glory. I wanted to see a different version of Meryl, for sure - Meryl as a mother abandoning her child, Meryl as a drug addict falling in love - but I still wanted to see her.
When I think of Meryl's acting, I think of: Resilience. Roots. A strong foundation. Powerful. Graceful. Vulnerable, but never weak. An excellent bitch. Capable of selfishness, but she always feels the cost of it. Nuanced. Layers. An internal monologue that goes on for pages and pages. Intelligent. Intentional. Empathy.
Next time I do a bracket - AND IT WON'T BE FOR A FEW MONTHS SO DON'T GET TOO EXCITED, THIS WAS EXHAUSTING - I am definitely going to match up the films at random, because I found that going by decade proved too costly. Like many actors, Meryl did a lot of her best work in chunks of time - you can't expect an actor to do an entire decade of dramas and not follow it up with a decade of Hallmark movies and comedies.
If I could do this again, or spare the casual viewer hours and hours of sub-optimal Meryl, these would be my Cheat Sheets:
Who Should've Been in the Final Four: