|Meryl Streep in a scene from The Iron Lady.|
It is Academy Award weekend coming up, time to sit back and enjoy the best that Hollywood had to offer last year.
The Irish as always will be well represented with Glenn Close nominated for the film Albert Nobbs, set in Dublin.
I found the film slow moving and pretty predictable and will be surprised if Close manages to finally win the most coveted award in the business, the Best Actress Oscar.
My personal favorite is Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady.
Streep gives a riveting performance, the best she has ever given, and that is truly saying something. She IS Thatcher in the movie, capturing the imperious persona who ruled Britain for over a decade.
The callousness of her decision to attack the Belgrano during the Falklands War is wonderfully portrayed by Streep, as is her utter indifference to the IRA hunger strikes which, ironically, was the spark that led to the resurgence of Sinn Fein in electoral politics after Bobby Sands starved to death.
We hear these days that Thatcher, now 86, has become feeble minded and indeed the film portrays her as such, imagining conversations with her late husband, Denis.
The opening scene in the film has her sneaking out and ordering a bottle of milk at the local store, a tired and run down old lady far removed from her imperial power days.
Streep succeeds in making her both sympathetic and repelling in almost equal measure.
Thatcher did what no woman before her ever did, climbing to power in a country where a grocer’s daughter from Grantham had no right to run a kingdom.
She has had no equal since. Hillary Clinton would, perhaps, be the closest in terms of making it in a man’s world, and Thatcher’s achievement in obtaining power is all the more remarkable as a result.
Sarah Palin would doubtless imagine herself in such a role someday, but she has none of Thatcher’s intellect. (Indeed, The Daily Telegraph reported that Palin, when briefed as the 2008 vice presidential candidate on the possibility of Britain pulling its troops out of Iraq, said she would personally pressure the Queen not to do it – a clear indication of how little she knew about the workings of British parliamentary democracy.)
Thatcher’s Falklands/Malvinas victory was her major military “triumph.”
I remember one of the finest pieces of ironic writing I’ve ever read being about her and Ronald Reagan walking on the beach at Normandy on the 50th anniversary of that incredible World War II landing – hallowed ground indeed.
“There they strolled, the conquerors of the Falklands and Grenada respectively,” wrote a writer for The Guardian, tongue firmly planted in cheek.
Yet Thatcher got it dead right on Europe, and her insistence on retaining British independence and its currency looks positively inspired these days.
She will always remain a hate figure to many, a heroine to others, but the reality is that she remains a major figure of the 20th century, especially in the ranks of British prime ministers
If you haven’t seen Streep portray her you should do yourself a favor. Rarely has art imitated life so well.
Here, view the trailer for 'The Iron Lady':