Impersonations have become a thing of the major awards show today. In the past, lots of movies about Hollywood and politics were out, just not a major issue for filmmakers who could come up with original ideas for films. 1980 brought the first year the two lead actors won for playing real life people, they also happened to be two of the most deserving winners ever - so what's my point? Today, if you play someone who had any kind of sustainable celebrity power, whether it be Richard Nixon or Ray Charles or Leeann Tuhoy, you're almost guaranteed an Oscar nomination whether or not you deserved it or not.
Which brings me to Meryl Streep - out of her overwhelming 17 nominations, she has played 6 real life people (Karen Silkwood, Karen Blixen, Lindy Chamberlain, Susan Orlean, Julia Child, Margaret Thatcher). Most came in her peak of being a phenomenal actress, the latter two have came within the "give her a third Oscar NOW" era, and it's rather unfortunate. Yes, her Julia Child is bordering on terrible, and is constantly an impersonation - always watching Meryl Streep try to be Julia Child. Her performance in The Iron Lady is much different - she's playing the same card, she's doing the same thing, but she is working with more dramatic material and from the looks of it, learned her lesson.
Margaret Thatcher is already a controversial topic, and the movie is not some kind of patronizing look at her life, but Streep seems to know she isn't perfect or reasonably likeable, always playing her with a strong amount of annoying fierceness. Her best scenes are the old Thatcher holding onto her memories - a movie solely focusing on this would have been better because despite the makeup, Streep plays it with strong vulnerability and the right amount of sympathy to not sway a viewer like me. It's not an impersonation in these scenes, it's like going into her home and watching her loose her memory. Unfortunately, we have to deal with the parts of the film, including terrible scenes (cowardice comes to mind), but Streep makes a good impression with me.
It would be a weak Oscar win, but I wouldn't be totally insane if Meryl won for this performance. It's a strong interpretation, with some terrific moments as the older Thatcher...but if only the rest of it could have held up just the same.