The 30 Best Meryl Streep Movies Every Fan Needs to See

Indisputable fact: Meryl Streep is one of the greatest actresses of all time. Thanks to her incredible range and uncanny ability to master every accent, the legendary performer will go down in history as a Hollywood icon thanks to her lengthy resume (93 credits, to be exact) and record-breaking 21 Academy Award nominations, including three wins.

So, to celebrate her unparalleled, decades-long career, we compiled a list of the best Meryl Streep movies to watch, from box-office hits like Mamma Mia! and The Devil Wears Prada to beloved classics like Sophie’s Choice. Whether you’re up for a feel-good rom-com or a thought-provoking thriller, there’s something on this list for everyone.

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1. “the French Lieutenant's Woman” (1981)

  • Cast: Meryl Streep, Jeremy Irons, Hilton McRae, Emily Morgan
  • Rating: R

In this adaptation of John Fowles's novel, an engaged paleontologist falls hard for an outcast named Sarah in 19th-century England. Streep's powerful performance earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role.

2. “a Cry In The Dark”(1988)

  • Cast: Meryl Streep, Sam Neill, Dale Reeves
  • Rating: PG-13

Streep is captivating as Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton, a Seventh Day Adventist who was wrongfully convicted of killing her child in what became one of the most famous murder cases in Australian history. The heartbreaking film also examines Australia's justice system and how manipulative the press can be.

3. “sophie’s Choice” (1982)

  • Cast: Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Peter MacNicol
  • Rating: R

Critics have lauded this psychological thriller as one of Streep's best, and it's easy to see why. The actress plays Sophie Zawistowski, a Polish immigrant and Holocaust survivor who lives with her abusive and emotionally unstable partner. Set after World War II, the film chronicles the couple’s relationship with their neighbor and reveals the details of Sophie’s dark past.

4. “the Bridges Of Madison County” (1995)

  • Cast: Meryl Streep, Clint Eastwood, Jim Hayne
  • Rating: PG-13

Set in 1965, the movie follows Francesca Johnson (Streep), a housewife who lives with her family in Iowa. When everyone else leaves for a short trip, she crosses paths with a photojournalist named Robert (Eastwood). A steamy love affair ensues.

5. “kramer Vs. Kramer” (1979)

  • Cast: Meryl Streep, Dustin Hoffman, Justin Henry
  • Rating: PG

Streep earned her first Oscar for playing Joanna Kramer in this groundbreaking title, which examines relevant themes like gender roles, single parenthood and work-life balance. Streep and Hoffman both deliver stellar performances as a divorced couple who fight to gain custody of their son.

6. “the Devil Wears Prada” (2006)

  • Cast: Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Adrian Grenier, Stanley Tucci, Emily Blunt
  • Rating: PG-13

A film that explores toxic work culture and passes the Bechdel test? Um, yes please. The comedy drama follows college grad Andy Sachs (Hathaway), who heads to New York and starts her “dream job” as assistant to Miranda Priestly (Streep), AKA one of the most powerful women in the fashion world.

7. “the Deer Hunter”(1978)

  • Cast: Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep, Christopher Walken
  • Rating: R

This epic war drama follows three close friends who are drafted to fight in Vietnam. After experiencing the inhumanity of war, they return home and realize that nothing will ever be the same. (Fun fact: Streep got her first Oscar nomination for playing Linda.)

8. “defending Your Life” (1991)

  • Cast: Albert Brooks, Meryl Streep, Rip Torn, Lee Grant, Buck Henry
  • Rating: PG

This cozy rom-com revolves around Daniel Miller, an LA-based businessman who dies on his birthday and gets sent to a place called Judgment City. While there, he is put on trial to determine whether he'll get reincarnated or move on to the next phase of existence. As always, Streep—who plays a deceased woman—doesn’t disappoint.

9. “marvin's Room” (1996)

  • Cast: Meryl Streep, Leonardo DiCaprio, Diane Keaton, Robert DeNiro
  • Rating: PG-13

Streep showcases her acting and vocal chops in this moving story, which tackles sibling relationships, mortality and mental illness. Streep and Keaton star as Lee and Bessie, two estranged sisters who reconnect when Bessie learns that she has leukemia.

10. “one True Thing” (1998)

  • Cast: Meryl Streep, Renee Zellweger, William Hurt
  • Rating: R

Ellen Gulden (Zellweger) is a magazine writer with big dreams. But when she learns that her mother is dying of cancer, she puts her career on hold to care for her mom.

11. “hope Springs”(2012)

  • Cast: Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, Steve Carell
  • Rating: PG-13

Streep and Jones play an adorable couple with decades of marriage behind them. The only problem? Their relationship has lost its spark. To spice things up (and possibly save their marriage), they enlist the help of a famous marriage counselor, played by Carell.

12. “the Prom” (2020)

  • Cast: Meryl Streep, James Corden, Nicole Kidman, Keegan-Michael Key
  • Rating: PG-13

The Prom tells the story of an Indiana teen named Emma, who wants to bring her girlfriend as her date to the school dance—except they’re banned from attending. Their only hope is a trio of Broadway stars, who are determined to support Emma (and save their careers in the process).

13. “the Manchurian Candidate” (2004)

  • Cast: Denzel Washington, Meryl Streep, Liev Schreiber, Jon Voight
  • Rating: R

In this remake of the 1962 thriller, Washington is Captain Bennett Marco, a former soldier who suffers from nightmares and suspects that he and his squad were brainwashed. Streep is simply phenomenal as an evil political genius named Eleanor Prentiss Shaw.

14. “postcards From The Edge” (1990)

  • Cast: Meryl Streep, Shirley MacLaine, Dennis Quaid
  • Rating: R

We can’t resist a smart comedy that explores messy mother-daughter relationships. The film follows a recovering drug addict and actress (Streep), who must move in with her successful mom, despite working so hard to escape her shadow.

15. “the Post” (2017)

  • Cast: Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Sarah Paulson
  • Rating: PG-13

Streep gives a memorable performance as Kay Graham, AKA the newspaper’s first female publisher in the 20th-century. The film depicts Graham and her staff as they uncover details of the Watergate Scandal and decide whether to the publish The Pentagon Papers in The Washington Post.

16. “death Becomes Her” (1992)

  • Cast: Meryl Streep, Bruce Willis, Goldie Hawn
  • Rating: PG-13

Who says you must wait until Halloween to enjoy this classic? Streep and Hawn star as Madeline and Helen, two women who fight to win the heart of the same man. But when they consume a magical potion to stay youthful, it leads to dire consequences.

17. “little Women” (2019)

  • Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Laura Dern, Timothée Chalamet, Meryl Streep
  • Rating: PG

Greta Gerwig puts a modern-day spin on Louisa May Alcott's classic Little Women, but in the best possible way. Follow the women of the March family as they all strive to pave their own paths in 19th-century Massachusetts.

18. “manhattan” (1979)

  • Cast: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Michael Murphy, Mariel Hemingway, Meryl Streep
  • Rating: R

If there’s one movie that’ll make you fall in love with the Big Apple, it’s this scenic film. Director Allen plays a divorced TV writer who pursues a relationship with a 17-year-old girl. But when he meets his best friend’s mistress, he starts to fall for her instead.

19. “julie & Julia” (2009)

  • Cast: Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Stanley Tucci
  • Rating: PG-13

Based on true events, Julie & Julia follows food blogger Julie Powell (Adams) as she takes on her biggest culinary project to date: cook all 524 recipes from Julia Child's cookbook in one year. Streep is delightful and charming as the famous cook and author.

20. “the Hours” (2002)

  • Cast: Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Nicole Kidman, Ed Harris
  • Rating: PG-13

The Hours revolves around three generations of women, including Clarissa Vaughan (Streep), a New-York based editor; Laura Brown (Moore), an unhappy and pregnant housewife; and Virginia Woolf (Kidman), a writer dealing with depression. The movie received nine Oscar nominations and earned Kidman a win for Best Actress.

21. “mamma Mia!” (2008)

  • Cast: Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgård, Julie Walters
  • Rating: PG-13

In this fun jukebox musical, bride-to-be Sophie (Seyfried) secretly invites three of her mother's exes to her wedding in hopes of discovering the identity of her biological father. What could possibly go wrong?

22. “doubt”(2008)

  • Cast: Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Viola Davis
  • Rating: PG-13

Fair warning: This isn’t an easy watch, as it deals with difficult themes like child molestation. Still, with such strong storytelling and solid performances all around, it’s worth a watch. Streep plays Sister Aloysius Beauvier, a Catholic school principal who investigates one teacher’s behavior after hearing a concerning report involving the school’s only Black student.

23.“adaptation” (2002)

  • Cast: Nicolas Cage, Tilda Swinton, Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper, Maggie Gyllenhaal
  • Rating: R

In this thought-provoking comedy, screenwriter Charlie Kaufman depicts his own struggles with writer's block and his efforts to adapt Susan Orlean's The Orchid Thief. Streep, who played Orlean, scored an Oscar nom for Best Supporting Actress.

24. “florence Foster Jenkins” (2016)

  • Cast: Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant, Simon Helberg, Rebecca Ferguson
  • Rating: PG-13

The biographical film revolves around Florence Foster Jenkins (Streep), a New York socialite who’s best known for her glamorous style and poor singing. FYI, this feel-good dramedy earned Streep an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.

25. “into The Woods” (2014)

  • Cast: Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine
  • Rating: PG

From Rapunzel to Little Red Riding Hood, our favorite childhood fairytales get a dark and modern twist in this musical fantasy film. It tells the story of a baker and his wife as they embark on a quest to undo the curse that was placed on them by an evil witch (Streep).

26. "dancing At Lughnasa” (1998)

  • Cast: Gerard McSorley, Meryl Streep, Michael Gambon
  • Rating: PG

Period drama enthusiasts will appreciate this British film, which follows five very different sisters as they grow up together in Ireland in the 1930s. Streep steals nearly every scene as Kate, the protective eldest sibling.

27. “don’t Look Up” (2021)

  • Cast: Meryl Streep, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Rob Morgan
  • Rating: R

This star-studded comedy tells the story of two astronomers (DiCaprio and Lawrence), who learn that a comet is hurtling towards Earth at full speed. When they scramble to alert the public, including the media and the government, no one takes them seriously. In his review, Assistant Editor Joel Calfee notes that the movie is "overflowing with themes and social commentary."

28. “it’s Complicated” (2009)

  • Cast: Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin, John Krasinski
  • Rating: R

Streep and Baldwin star as a divorced couple who start a steamy affair after reuniting for their son’s college graduation. They’re both in relationships with other people, which makes things…well, complicated. Watch this one if you’re looking for a guilty pleasure film that’s guaranteed to elicit a few laughs.

29. "music Of The Heart"(1999)

  • Cast: Meryl Streep, Angela Bassett, Gloria Estefan
  • Rating: PG

Wes Craven may be a master of the horror genre, but this Oscar-nominated musical proves that he’s equally skilled at creating poignant dramas. Inspired by the true story of violinist Roberta Guaspari (played by Streep), the film follows her struggle to get funding for music education in public schools, as well as her impact on young students.

30. “out Of Africa”(1985)

  • Cast: Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, Klaus Maria Brandauer, Michael Kitchen
  • Rating: PG

Streep plays real-life Danish writer Karen Blixen in this adaptation of the namesake autobiography, although much of it is dramatized. In the film, Blixen heads to Africa to be with her husband, but after learning that he's been unfaithful, she falls for a charming man whose lifestyle couldn’t be more different from hers. (Fun fact: Out of Africa won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture.)

nakeisha campbell bio

Associate Editor, News and Entertainment

Nakeisha has been interviewing celebrities and covering all things entertainment for over 8 years, but she has also written on a wide range of topics, like career...