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Is Meryl Streep the best Hollywood actress of all time?

There is no doubt that Meryl Streep is the most accomplished actress of her era. However the million dollar question remains is she the best? A comparative study of her acting prowess vis-a-vis other great Hollywood heroines.

hollywood Updated: Jan 08, 2018 18:13 IST
Ranjan Das Gupta
Ranjan Das Gupta
Hindustan Times
Hollywood,Meryl Streep,Ingrid Bergman
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 12: Meryl Streep attends the 70th EE British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) at Royal Albert Hall on February 12, 2017 in London, England. (Getty Images)

“Number of Oscars won do not decide talent or creativity,” Sir Charles Chaplin once said. Veteran Hollywood actor Meryl Streep has received maximum Oscar and Golden Globe nominations. Her polished performance in The Post helped her to establish this. Iconic performers ruled Hollywood and international cinema prior to Meryl Streep. Vivian Leigh, Katherine Hepburn and Sophia Loren are only a few. Meryl Streep herself stated, “It is very difficult to match the inimitable Katherine Hepburn.”. Here is a comparative study of three cult actresses, along with Meryl Streep, with an effort to assess if she is the greatest Hollywood actress of all time.

Greta Garbo

A scene from the film 'As You Desire Me', starring Greta Garbo (1905 - 1990) and Melvyn Douglas (Getty Images)

No other actress had the charisma Greta Garbo did. She built around her a mystic aura which made her legion. Though not a classic actress, Greta Garbo was brilliant in author-backed characters, such as Mata Hari and Anna Karenina. Her low-pitched dialogue delivery accompanied with calculated body language made her a demigod to her countless fans. Greta Garbo was never a conventional method actress. She was spontaneous. Her love scenes were serene. She quit at a time no one thought she would.

Ingrid Bergman

A still from Casablanca (1942), in which Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman play lovers separated by war and destiny.

Initially she was termed a Swedish cow because of her height. The ravishing beauty mingled intelligence with fluidity to become an all-time great. Gregory Peck, Humphrey Boggart and Omar Shariff marvelled at her ability to react with multiple expressions. When she cried, “Oh Jesus” being burnt alive in Joan of Arc, Ingrid Bergman shed real tears. As Anastasia, she proved a perfect foil to the confident Yul Bryner. In Wild Stomboli, Ingrid Bergman scaled peaks of histrionics inspiring Ingmar Bergman to term her an authority of method acting.

Meryl Streep

ROME, ITALY - OCTOBER 20: Meryl Streep attends a party honouring Meryl Streep on October 20, 2016 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Ernesto Ruscio/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

As she stood smiling stark naked in a night sequence of Still of The Night, Meryl Streep became the most desirable female for millions of male admires. Blessed with talent, confidence and beauty, she has transcended barriers of acting. No other contemporary or junior has experimented with such a variety of characters like Meryl Streep. Her intensity in Sophie’s Choice is peerless. As Iron Lady, Meryl Streep is faultless. In Devil Wears Prada, Meryl Streep combines solid substance with style superbly. With maximum acting accolades, she is great. That she is the best is debatable as her performances are yet to touch souls as much as Ingrid Bergman or Sophia Loren could. Meryl Streep seems conscious in front of a movie camera, sometimes. Ingrid Bergman, Katherine Hepburn or Sophia Loren never bothered about camera angles and performed with an ideal combination of their heads and hearts.

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First Published: Jan 08, 2018 18:13 IST