EXCLUSIVE: Meryl Streep is waiting until almost the last possible minute to jump into this year’s Oscar race. Although many places list her Margaret Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady as a December 16 release, The Weinstein Company has decided it is best to keep us waiting a little longer. So the official opening date for the movie that co-stars Jim Broadbent and is directed by Phyllida Lloyd is now December 30 in a limited platform release, with a wider break to come on January 13 to cash in on those expected Golden Globe and Oscar nominations. Streep is expected to be a front-runner for lead actress, which would be her 14th nomination in that category and 17th overall (she has three in supporting) with two wins, the last coming in 1982 for Sophie’s Choice. The records she keeps breaking are her own. Although an impressive statistic, Streep likes to remind people she has also lost more times than any other actor in Oscar history. The closest competitor for number of Best Actress nods is Katharine Hepburn who stopped at 12 (although Kate’s ahead in the actual gold count with four wins).
Will her portrayal of Thatcher bring Streep that elusive third Oscar? She has tough competition from potential nominees Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe in My Week With Marilyn, Glenn Close in Albert Nobbs, Charlize Theron in Young Adult, Viola Davis in The Help and Tilda Swinton in We Need To Talk About Kevin among others.
At research screenings, Streep reportedly got the highest test numbers Harvey Weinstein has ever seen. Between Meryl and Michelle playing Margaret and Marilyn, Harvey is holding a hot hand in this year’s Best Actress contest.
Streep has also been announced as one of this year’s recipients of the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors, which will be awarded on December 4 and air on CBS on December 27 — the same day Oscar nominating ballots are mailed. Timing is everything.