How She Got Here: Even foreign press in far-flung corners got the word that this is the Year of Sandra. She also received a Globe nom for the sleeper hit “The Blind Side” and has proved she can be a box office hit in any genre. She sparkled in “The Proposal” as a high-powered executive who needs to marry to remain in the U.S., and this recent recognition underlines the notion that the bond between her and audiences formed with such sweetheart pics even before “While You Were Sleeping” remains strong.
How She Got Here: Earlier in the year this French delicacy raised her profile among American movie buffs with a memorable turn opposite Johnny Depp in Michael Mann’s “Public Enemies,” her most commercial film to date and the first since she took home Oscar for playing chanteuse Edith Piaf in “La Vie en rose.” In Rob Marshall’s film version of the Broadway musical “Nine,” she more than held her own in an intimidating situation: dancing half-naked as the wife of Daniel Day-Lewis among a heavyweight cast. Of the four actresses in this category, Cotillard may possess the most foreign press mojo.
How She Got Here: Tony Gilroy’s romantic spy comedy was both lauded and ripped for its narrative intricacies, but Roberts’ beaming presence and the chemistry she generated with Clive Owen helped to keep it grounded and zipping along at the same time. Few leading ladies do funny and sexy as well as she, although balancing roles as mom and career woman have kept Roberts on the outskirts of Hollywood’s radar as of late. Yet two years ago she snared a Golden Globe nom for “Charlie Wilson’s War” — her first since 2001 (“Erin Brockovich”) — and “Duplicity” may represent a permanent return to the statuette circuit.
How She Got Here: Naturally, one paltry nomination is hardly enough for a performer of her stature, hence the double. She always raises the level of anything she’s in, but she’s especially enjoyable in Nancy Meyers’ lighthearted ode to divorce, adultery, romance and chocolate croissants. Streep is that rare middle-age actress whose sheer cinematic power guarantees both a performance of integrity and imagination, and also of box office success. The intense Streep vapors, combined with the wicked talents of Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin, give this film a rare comedic potency it wouldn’t have had with a lesser mixture.
“Julie & Julia”
How She Got Here: Who else? What other larger-than-life presence would be a slam-dunk casting choice as legendary chef Julia Child? A woman’s place is not necessarily in the kitchen, but this woman’s rightful place was clearly in Child’s. Of her two noms, Streep’s performance in “Julie and Julia” came and went earlier in the year, which may cause voters to flip the spatula and salivate over “It’s Complicated.” Yet Streep as Child sends viewers into the same state of bliss that had been derived from gobbling one of Child’s butter-laden desserts, and the foreign press may ask for extra helpings when it’s time to vote.