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Celebrate Meryl Streep’s Nominations With Her 12 Fiercest Characters

Meryl Streep is 68 years old, but we kinda get the feeling she’s only getting started. The Academy Award-winning actor has been turning out stellar work for decades now, but it almost seems like each role she steps into is better than the last. And with her latest performance in The Post, we’re just going to watch the awards roll in.

Here are some of the roles that made her an icon.

1. Katharine Graham — The Post

Meryl Streep's Best Work: The Post
Image: DreamWorks Pictures

It wasn’t Streep’s first rodeo playing a woman editor, but her performance in The Post felt remarkably timely, as the plot explores the battle between publishing and the government.

Favorite quote: “Oh dear; I don’t like hypothetical questions.”

2. Miranda Priestly — The Devil Wears Prada

Meryl Streep's Best Work: The Devil Wears Prada
Image: Fox 2000 Pictures

It’s hard to believe someone so warm and friendly could portray an ice queen magazine editor, but Streep did — with ease — in 2006’s The Devil Wears Prada.

The iconic actor definitely loved playing such a difficult character because she said she’s willing play Priestly again if the book’s sequel comes to the big screen.

“I’d have to lose the f***ing weight, but yes,” she told Access Hollywood in 2012.

Favorite quote: “By all means, move at a glacial pace. You know how that thrills me.”

More: Meryl Streep Is Being Forced to Work With Donald Trump

3. Margaret Thatcher — The Iron Lady

Meryl Streep's Best Work: The Iron Lady
Image: Pathé

Streep won her third Academy Award for her role as Britain’s Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher. The actor completely enveloped herself in the role, taking on the elderly politician’s mannerisms and walk with ease.

“To me she was a figure of awe for her personal strength and grit,” Streep said in a statement about Thatcher after the former prime minister’s death in April 2013. “To have come up, legitimately, through the ranks of the British political system, class bound and gender phobic as it was, in the time that she did and the way that she did, was a formidable achievement.”

Favorite quote: “Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become… habits. Watch your habits, for they become your character. And watch your character, for it becomes your destiny! What we think, we become.”

4. Julia Child — Julie & Julia

Meryl Streep's Best Work: Julie & Julia
Image: Columbia Pictures

Streep is the only actress who can do legendary chef Julia Child any justice — and she definitely did so in the 2009 film Julie & Julia. Seriously, who else could copy Child’s shrill voice with ease? Only Streep.

Favorite quote: “If no one’s in the kitchen, who’s to see?”

More: Meryl Streep Gets Standing Ovation at the Oscars for Her ‘Lackluster’ Career

5. Francesca Johnson — The Bridges of Madison County

Meryl Streep's Best Work: The Bridges of Madison County
Image: Amblin Entertainment

A woman’s heart is full of secrets — and sometimes those secrets stay quiet until death. In 1995’s The Bridges of Madison County, Streep played Francesca Johnson, an Iowa housewife who had a four-day affair with photographer Robert Kincaid (played by Clint Eastwood) while her family was away. Her tender portrayal of Francesca earned her a Best Actress in a Leading Role nomination at the 68th Academy Awards.

Favorite quote: “I want to love you the way I do now the rest of my life. Don’t you understand… we’ll lose it if we leave. I can’t make an entire life disappear to start a new one. All I can do is try to hold on to to both. Help me. Help me not lose loving you.”

6. Madeline Ashton — Death Becomes Her

Meryl Streep's Best Work: Death Becomes Her
Image: Universal Pictures

Streep is mostly known for her serious roles, but she has comedic chops, too. Need proof? Her role in 1992’s dark comedy Death Becomes Her still makes us laugh — and gives us nightmares.

Favorite quote: “Wrinkled, wrinkled little star… hope they never see the scars.”

7. Suzanne Vale — Postcards From the Edge

Meryl Streep's Best Work: Postcards from the Edge
Image: Columbia Pictures

Streep also knows how to play women who are seriously off-kilter, as in her role as the drug-addicted Suzanne in 1990’s Postcards From the Edge.

Favorite quote: “Thank God I got sober now so I can be hyperconscious for this series of humiliations.”

8. Mary Fisher — She-Devil

Meryl Streep's Best Work: She-Devil
Image: Orion Pictures
Only Streep could go toe-to-toe with Roseanne Barr — and win!

Favorite quote: “I’m taking back control of my life, Bob! As long as you’re all under my roof, things will be done my way, starting now!”

9. Sophie — Sophie’s Choice

Meryl Streep's Best Work: Sophie's Choice
Image: ITC Entertainment

Streep won her first Best Actress Academy Award for her poignant role as a tortured Holocaust survivor in 1982’s Sophie’s Choice.

The role might not be her typical in-your-face character, but it was actually her vulnerability that made her fierce.

“No question that this person was not going to dominate the conversation at a dinner party,” she told NPR of Sophie. “So they fell in love with her.”

Favorite quote: “Don’t you see? We are dying. I longed desperately to escape, to pack my bags and flee, but I did not.”

10. Joanna Kramer — Kramer vs. Kramer

Meryl Streep's Best Work: Kramer vs Kramer
Image: Columbia Pictures

Streep blazed yet another trail in 1979’s Kramer vs. Kramer when she played a woman who ditched her family for greener pastures — and then wanted it all back.

Favorite quote: “I woke up this morning, kept thinking about Billy and I was thinking about him waking up in his room with his little clouds all around that I painted, and I thought I should have painted clouds downtown because then he would think that he was waking up at home. I came here to take my son home. And I realized he already is home.”

11. Linda — The Deer Hunter

Meryl Streep's Best Work: The Deer Hunter
Image: EMI

Streep’s iconic role as Linda in 1978’s The Deer Hunter made her quite the hero among men.

“For men, the favorite character that I’ve ever played is Linda in The Deer Hunter, without question,” she told NPR. “The heterosexual men that I’ve spoken to over the years, they say, ‘That’s my favorite thing you’ve ever done.'”

Favorite quote: “What goes through your mind comes out your mouth.”

12. Florence — Florence Foster Jenkins

Meryl Streep's Best Work: Florence Foster Jenkins
Image: Pathé

In 2016’s Florence Foster Jenkins, Streep once again showed off her comedic chops — and proved (again) that she’s one heck of a character actress.

Favorite quote: “They’re getting through the potato salad like gannets.”

Who’s your favorite Meryl Streep character?

A version of this article was originally published in June 2016.

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