Ready? "Why is no one reh-dee?"
GIRD YOUR LOINS!
Ten Best Miranda Priestley Line Readings
10 "My flight has been cancelled... "
How incredulous and put out she sounds without even raising her voice. The way she says "school" when referencing her kids recital which she's desperate to attend is giggle worthy, too. So childish. Translation 'How could such a thing happen to the center of the universe... me?'
09 "There you are Emily. How many times do I have to scream your name?"
'Actually my name is Andrea.' Oh shut it Hathaway. She doesn't care. She will call you what she likes and you'll come running. Streep's double sided reaction to this interruption is A+ perfect. She's almost delighted that someone is talking back to her -- the novelty! -- stifling an awkard smile/laugh. But then immediately reasserts control with a list of demands. The silent hanging punchline is so choice "And Emily..."
[Great Moments in Screen Bitchery #211, The Devil Wears Prada]
08 "I agree. No business tonight. Enjoy"
I couldn't include only her bitchiest quips! Thrown by the appearance of her rival Jacqueline, Streep gives us just a peak at Miranda's vulnerability in the gala sequence. Her boss doesn't want to discuss her cryptic reference to a note. She acquiesces by pouring the charm on a little too thickly, a little too needily. Everyone has a boss... even bosses from hell.
07 "And you can do anything... right?"
She wants the Harry Potter unpublished manuscript for her twin daughters. Normally Miranda's bitchy lobs are masked as power displays or excusable from a certain kind of 'Do your job' angle. But this time she's pissed. This one is a direct and purposefully impossible challenge. It's a gauntlet thrown down. For once she doesn't pretend otherwise.
06 "The truth is there is no one who can do what I do."
This line is uttered in the middle of her final monologue in which she is both rationalizing her own actions and chastising Andie on her holier than thou perch. The line is true enough of the character. But it's also not directed at the woman she's speaking too but to herself. It's a pep talk for a narrow escape from the competitors nipping at her heels.
And yes, the line is also true enough of the actress.
05 "You have no sense of style or fashion... No, no. That wasn't a question."
This isn't the first laugh Streep wrings from the lengthy opening act interview scene which introduces all four principals but it's her first "joke" in the movie as Andie's (Anne Hathaway) interview wraps up. I still remember the peals of laughter in the theater.
04 "Why is no one reh-dee?" AND "By all means move at a glacial pace. You know how that thrills me."
So quotable. These two lines are fraternal twins though they are separated by the bulk of the movie. They both spin their comedy from Miranda's exasperated and exasperating impatience. The second impatient quip is uttered when she is at her weakest, determined to work and succeed even in the face of another divorce. The breathy weariness that she employs when annoyed is suddenly not an affectation but the reality.
03 "This...stuff?" (aka the "Cerulean" monologue)
This whole speech, in which Priestley schools her clueless new assistant, is gold. We've written about it before. What's truly remarkable about the scene, which I'd name as the best in the film, is that it's madly multitasking. It brings all four principles together and underlines their place in the narrative while showing us not just workplace politics but actual work (a rare site in movies!). It's a showboating monologue that doesn't interrupt the flow of the storytelling but is the story.
We already know that Miranda Priestely is an über bitch and a major success, but suddenly we're forced into reconsidering our own ideas about the value of what she does and why she's so good at it; it's not just Andie's education but ours. Miranda is working during the whole speech -- "I think we need a jacket here" -- and teaching us the business. The speech, beautifully written and exceptionally delivered, is actually full of hostility and condescencion but somehow we emerge from the other end of it not hating being dressed down but enjoying our own comeuppance. Plus it's "sort of comical" to borrow from the fashionista headmistress herself.
02 "That's all."
It's not that it's her signature catchphrase. It's that each and every time those two syllables slip from her mouth, they carry different weight and meaning. And yet, it's never so simple an actor's trick as varying the punctuation mark. "That's all" is always quiet and simple like a period. It's never an exclamation point, question mark, or even ellipses. So how does she do it? We don't know. It's a magic trick from a seasoned confident showman. Professional magicians don't give away their best secrets.
01 "So often they turn out to be dissapointing and... stupid." AND "I said to myself 'Go ahead. Take a chance. Hire the smart fat girl.'"
These twin lines in which she brutally crushes both Emily (stupid) and Andie (fat) are SO mean. But the brillance of Meryl's delivery is that though the text is actually about Miranda admitting fault the delivery is anything but that. She's coddling herself throughout, gently coaxing herself to 'take a chance' and forgiving herself by blaming both assistants. The self regard is as tall as the office building and as transparent as the glass behind her. It's funny, too.
[Great Moments in Screen Bitchery #12, The Devil Wears Prada]
Listen, it's true that any number of actresses would have been great fun in this role. But Meryl Streep isn't just playing the caricature but a character. She's finds abundant shade and multiple gradations of color. Other actresses would have been blue; Meryl Streep is turquoise, lapis and cerulean.
Which brings us to Oscar nomination #14. We're almost done surveying the Streep Oscar fields, how about that?
And the nominees were...
- Penélope Cruz, Volver
- Judi Dench, Notes on a Scandal
- Helen Mirren, The Queen *winner*
- Meryl Streep, The Devil Wears Prada *Nathaniel's vote*
- Kate Winslet, Little Children
Probably Came Close: none; Traction Trouble: Maggie Gyllenhaal (Sherrybaby)... but what a performance! Her best outside of Happy Endings I think. I wish I'd nominated her for my own awards.; Low Impact (Not Necessarily Their Fault): Annette Bening (Running With Scissors), Kirsten Dunst (Marie Antoinette), Ivana Bacquero (Pan's Labyrinth), Gretchen Mol (The Notorious Bettie Page), Laura Dern (INLAND EMPIRE), Naomi Watts (The Painted Veil); Box Office Queens: Beyonce Knowles (Dreamgirls), Jennifer Aniston (The Break-Up) and Toni Collette (Little Miss Sunshine)
What's your favorite Streep moment in Prada? And now that we have four years worth of hindsight, what do you think of the 2006 field but more specifically, what do you make of the absolute lack of competition both in who the final five would eventually be and in who won?