Meryl Streep, a Date with Oscar and a Test Screening
Twitter was a-flutter with reactions from a test screening of the Meryl Streep/Julia Roberts film August: Osage County. I never trust test screenings where Oscar is concerned because they are almost always wrong. Moreover, they can sometimes set expectations too high for a film to then meet those expectations. I hate it when that happens. But you can’t put the genie back in the bottle once it’s out and so August: Osage County is not quite getting the Les Mis treatment yet but it might be headed in that direction. Remember: you need critics to see a movie to know if it’s going to be a Best Picture contender at the very least. Over the years test screening reactions have almost always turned out to be misleading.
Here’s what we know before we ever even go read those: Streep brings it. She brings it in bad movies (The Iron Lady) and brings it in great movies (Adaptation) — so there isn’t likely going to be anything disappointing about Streep in this film. Therefore, it isn’t that surprising that the early word from the screening is a sploogegasm on the order of MERYL STREEP WILL WIN HER FOURTH OSCAR. And she very well might. Since Hollywood, and the industry, really really really doesn’t like movies with strong female leads in them, and that there are barely enough of them to go around at all, it seems plausible that Streep’s tour de force could blow out any potential competition.
But enough of my empty, pointless speculation — on to the tweets. A reader named Daniel sent this in (I hope he doesn’t mind if I post it):
And I have to tell everyone that I loved it.
I was very nervous about this adaptation because I loved the play so much. I saw it 6 times on Broadway, and was really worried about Julia Roberts taking on the Amy Morton role.
Julia Roberts, while no Amy Morton, acquits herself nicely, and does some of her best acting in years. However, this is Streep’s movie, and she really sinks her teeth in to the part. The dinner scene stands out as a really strong moment (and always was one of my favorites in the play). She is totally unrecognizable in the first few scenes, and tears threw them brilliantly.
Tracy Letts does a nice job adapting his work for the screen. Everything is very faithful to the original material, but more opened up for the big screen. There is an addition to the end that i didnt’t care for, but overall I thought everything worked really nicely.
The biggest surprise for me was Benedict Cumberbatch. He took a very minor character who was never someone I liked onstage, and made me care about him.
Margo Matindale was the casting I was most excited about for this film and she totally delivered. She is an excellent Mattie Fae, and i hope that she can score a supporting nod.
Overall, I think this is easily one of the best films of the year, and I can’t wait to see this again.