Dec. 15, 2019, marks 10 years since three-time Oscar winner Meryl Streep starred as Jane Adler in the emotionally messy dramedy "It's Complicated." In honor of the film's big anniversary, Wonderwall.com is ranking Meryl's movie roles from great to the absolute greatest. Keep reading to find out where this character lands on our list, and see which of Meryl's roles comes in at No. 1…
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No. 25: Emmeline Pankhurst in "Suffragette"
In the 2015 biographical drama "Suffragette," Meryl Streep stars as British political activist and women's rights leader Emmeline Pankhurst. Based on true events, the film follows the British suffragette movement of the early 20th century in which Emmeline and other activists begin a campaign of violence to demand the right to vote. In a rousing balcony speech, Emmeline ignites her followers, saying, "We are fighting for a time in which every little girl born into the world will have an equal chance with her brothers. Never underestimate the power we women have to define our own destinies. We do not want to be lawbreakers, we want to be lawmakers!"
No. 24: Clarissa Vaughan in "The Hours"
In the 2002 romantic drama "The Hours," Meryl Streep stars as Clarissa Vaughan, a gay New York editor in 2001 who's coping with the pending death of her close friend, writer and former lover, Richard. Clarissa's journey of identity, acceptance and loss is one part of the braided story that weaves together the yearning of a 1950s stay-at-home mother and the last days of author Virginia Woolf, who eventually took her own life in 1941.
No. 23: Ricki in "Ricki and The Flash"
In the 2015 musical dramedy "Ricki and The Flash," Meryl Streep stars as the titular musician, Ricki, who returns home after abandoning her family in pursuit of a rock 'n' roll career. Ricki is a multi-faceted woman who discovers the family she left behind has suffered in her wake. While finding a way to help them heal, Ricki also learns to forgive herself for her mistakes. Even cooler, Meryl's real-life daughter, Mamie Gummer, co-stars in the film as her character's troubled daughter, Julie. We think it's one of Meryl's most underrated performances.
No. 22: Ellen Martin in "The Laundromat"
The only Netflix original movie to make our list is the 2019 comedic crime drama "The Laundromat." In the film, Meryl Streep plays Ellen Martin, an angry and determined widow who sets out on a mission to expose who's responsible for the fake insurance policy that left her without financial compensation after her husband's accidental death. Her unrelenting search ultimately leads her to uncover the Panama Papers — evidence of hundreds of thousands of illegal, offshore bank accounts and shell companies operating out of Panama.
No. 21: Karen in "Out of Africa"
In the 1985 romantic drama "Out of Africa," Meryl Streep plays Karen, a married Danish aristocrat who defies the expectation of a meek and modest woman and is determined to live life on her terms. After moving to a coffee plantation in Kenya with her husband — whom she married for convenience, not love — Karen embarks on a passionate romance with a big-game hunter while working to bring education to the villagers who call the plantation home. The performance earned Meryl Oscar and Golden Globe nominations.
No. 20: Kate Gulden in "One True Thing"
In the 1998 drama "One True Thing," Meryl Streep stars as Kate Gulden, a dedicated wife and mother who, after being her family's quiet backbone, is stricken by a terminal cancer diagnosis. After daughter Ellen (Renee Zellweger) comes home to help her mother during her final days, Kate teaches her child about the strength and courage it takes to be the one who cares for everyone else. Meryl was nominated for an Oscar for best lead actress.
No. 19: Helen in "Ironweed"
In the 1987 drama "Ironweed," Meryl Streep stars as Helen, a fast-talking stubborn alcoholic drifter who clings tightly to her former life as a singer. In the film, Helen and her like-minded companion Francis (Jack Nicholson) return to their hometown during Halloween in 1938 and end up facing an angry mob determined to get rid of the vagrants flooding their city. Meryl earned a best actress Oscar nomination for her work in the film.
No. 18: Violet Weston in "August: Osage County"
In the 2013 dramatic comedy "August: Osage County," Meryl Streep stars as Violet Weston, a difficult woman battling mouth cancer and an addiction to alcohol and narcotics. Following the suicide of Violet's husband, her daughters — one of whom is played by Julia Roberts, seen here — and their families come home to help but end up confronting painful moments from their past, many of which revolved around Violet's bad behavior. For this performance, Meryl earned yet another Oscar nomination for best lead actress.
No. 17: Jane Adler in "It's Complicated"
In 2009's "It's Complicated," Meryl Streep plays bakery owner and single mom Jane Adler, a divorcée who engages in a risqué affair with her cheating ex-husband (Alec Baldwin) while also navigating a potential new romance with her architect (Steve Martin) who's everything her ex wasn't. The story might have felt predictable, but Meryl — and her co-stars — were utter delights to watch.
No. 16: Sarah and Anna in "The French Lieutenant's Woman"
In the 1981 romantic drama "The French Lieutenant's Woman," Meryl Streep stars as both Sarah Woodruff, a Victorian-era woman engaged in an illicit affair, and as Anna, an actress playing Sarah in a modern retelling of her romantic liaison. Meryl's dual performances earned her her third best actress Oscar nomination.
No. 15: Suzanne Vale in "Postcards From the Edge"
In the 1990 comedy "Postcards from the Edge," Meryl Streep stars as Suzanne Vale, a recovering addict and actress who's sent to live with her manipulative, hard-drinking mother, Doris (Shirley MacLaine), in order to salvage her career. The film was based on the late Carrie Fisher's semi-autobiographical novel of the same name. Meryl earned an Oscar nomination for best actress for this one too.
No. 14: Madeline Ashton in "Death Becomes Her"
In the 1992 comedy-horror film "Death Becomes Her," Meryl Streep plays manipulative, washed-up actress Madeline Ashton, who's obsessed with reclaiming her former glory. Desperate to outshine her rival, Madeline seeks help from a mystical woman who promises eternal youth and beauty, with a few unintended side effects.
No. 13: Witch in "Into the Woods"
In the 2014 musical fairy tale "Into the Woods," Meryl Streep plays an evil witch at the center of a mythological adventure. Knowing that her baker neighbors can't bear a child, the cursed witch sets them on a seemingly impossible journey to retrieve magical items like a sparkling slipper, a red cloak and a white cow, all in return for a child of their own. Meryl was nominated for a best supporting actress Oscar for her work in the movie.
No. 12: Florence Foster Jenkins in "Florence Foster Jenkins"
In the 2016 biographical comedy "Florence Foster Jenkins," Meryl Streep takes on the titular role of a New York heiress who can't carry a tune if her life depends on it, yet she dreams of becoming an opera singer. Based on a true story, Florence — a devoted patron of the musical arts — is hilariously unaware of her terrible singing voice, in part because she surrounds herself with people who convince her she's got the vocal cords of an angel, all to keep her money flowing into their pockets. Meryl was nominated for an Academy Award for best lead actress for the performance.
No. 11: Sister Aloysius Beauvier in "Doubt"
The 2008 mystery-drama "Doubt" saw Meryl Streep in a darker, more defiant role as Sister Aloysius Beauvier, a draconian nun at a Catholic church who's able to command a room with a single look. In the film, Sister Aloysius discovers the school's head priest may be abusing students and sets upon a plan to expose him. Meryl earned an Oscar nod for best lead actress.
No. 10: Francesca Johnson in "The Bridges of Madison County
In the 1995 romantic drama "The Bridges of Madison County," Meryl Streep stars as Francesca Johnson, an Italian mother and wife living in Iowa who meets handsome photographer Robert (Clint Eastwood) while her family is away at the Illinois State Fair. Over the course of four short days, Francesca and Robert have a passionate affair that marks one of the most important moments of her life. As with so many of Meryl's performances, this one earned her an Oscar nomination for best lead actress.
No. 9: Kay Graham in "The Post"
In the powerful 2017 biographical drama "The Post," Meryl Streep stars as real-life Washington post publisher Kay Graham. The film follows Kay's decision in 1971 to expose information leaked via classified documents that revealed that four U.S. presidents had conspired to conceal the truth about the Vietnam War. Meryl was nominated for a best actress Academy Award for her work in the movie.
No. 8: Donna in "Mamma Mia!"
In the 2008 musical romantic comedy "Mamma Mia!," Meryl Streep stars as Donna, a carefree hotelier, musician and mother living on the Greek island of Kalokairi. We learn Donna was always a free spirit, even when it came to romance, which set her adult daughter on a journey to find out which of her mother's three past lovers might be her father. In 2018, Meryl reprised the role once more for the sequel "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again."
No. 7: Linda in "The Deer Hunter"
In the 1978 war drama "The Deer Hunter," Meryl Streep stars as Linda, a young woman living under her abusive father's roof who's torn between the safety of her relationship with boyfriend Nick and the lingering attraction she shares with his best friend, Michael (Robert De Niro), before they head out to fight in the Vietnam War. The movie marked Meryl's second film role and earned her the very first of her many Oscar nominations.
No. 6: Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady"
Another of Meryl Streep's powerful biographical performances was her 2011 portrayal of U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady." In the film, an elderly Margaret — speaking to the ghost of her late husband, Denis Thatcher — tells stories of her life and political career, leading to her becoming Britain's first female PM. For this performance, Meryl won her third Academy Award.
No. 5: Sophie in "Sophie's Choice"
In the 1981 drama "Sophie's Choice," Meryl Streep took on the titular role of a Polish Holocaust survivor who escapes to New York where she carries the burden of her painful past. While in a relationship with a volatile man, Sophie meets a writer who befriends her and soon uncovers the terrible secrets of her former life, including the unthinkable choice between life and death she was forced to make for her children. Meryl won her second Oscar for this performance.
No. 4: Julia Child in "Julie & Julia"
One of Meryl Streep's most delightful movie roles ever was, undoubtedly, America's first celebrity chef, Julia Child, in the 2009 biopic "Julie & Julia." The film follows two separate storylines — that of Julia's journey from former government agent to a master of French cuisine and celebrated cookbook author, as well as the story of a food blogger named Julie (Amy Adams) who, many years later, attempts to cook her way through Julia's "Mastering the Art of French Cuisine." The performance earned Meryl the 16th Oscar nomination of her career.
No. 3: Karen Silkwood in "Silkwood"
In the disturbing 1983 biographical drama "Silkwood," Meryl Streep stars as Karen Silkwood, a single mother and plutonium processing plant employee who uncovers a fatal disregard for workers' health and raises concerns about safety violations at the plant. After Karen begins speaking out about the dangerous workplace conditions, she gets caught in a plot to silence her. She's purposely exposed to high levels of radiation and, later, died before she's able to alert the authorities. The movie, which co-stars Kurt Russell and Cher, and was nominated for five Oscars, including a best actress nod for Meryl.
No. 2: Joanna Kramer in "Kramer vs. Kramer"
The 1979 drama "Kramer vs. Kramer" earned Meryl Streep her first Academy Award. In the film, Meryl plays Joanna Kramer, a deeply unhappy woman on the verge of a complete breakdown, who leaves her husband and young son in an effort to reclaim her mental health. After finding her way back to herself, Joanna returns to her broken family, only to be faced with a painful custody battle with her ex.
No. 1: Miranda Priestly in "The Devil Wears Prada"
Coming it at No. 1 is Meryl Streep's killer performance as the deliciously cutthroat fashion editor Miranda Priestly in 2006's "The Devil Wears Prada." In the film, Miranda suffers no fools, especially not her newly hired and good-natured assistant, Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway), who is determined to make it in the world of journalism. Demanding and at times cruel, Miranda — who's reportedly based on Vogue editor Anna Wintour — offers Andy a master class in power, style, confidence and what it means to take charge in a world that looks down on women. Meryl earned a Golden Globe for this performance as well as an Oscar nomination.