Meryl Streep is the 2008 Film Society of Lincoln Center Gala Tribute honoree. The Lincoln Center has been honoring a living movie legend each year since 1972 (link to list). Their timing seems to have been off a little lately but this year they chose well with Meryl Streep.
Meryl Streep won her Oscars so early in her career (1979/80 and 1982/83) that she has spent the last 25 years Oscarless. For my money she should have won the Oscar for The Devil Wears Prada. And although I liked Helen Mirren and I thought The Queen was a better movie than Prada, Streep gave the performance of the year.
The first Meryl Streep film I saw theatrically, I'm happy to report, was Postcards From the Edge. Happy to report, because it was one of her benchmark performances, and a change of pace for her. I've seen many Streep films since, but not all. There are two films that vie for my favorite Streep perrformances since 1990 (outside of Prada)— The Bridges of Madison County (1995) and Adaptation (2002).
Like so many others, I thought little of the bestselling book, but what a great movie Eastwood turned out in Bridges. It was one of the few of his later day performances in which he wasn't too old to play the part. And Streep, in another of her "accent" roles, was perfection.
I can see why she picked up the Oscar for Sophie's Choice but I thought Jane Alexander should have won for Kramer Vs. Kramer (they were both up for the award). Her best performance pre-1990 is probably (the frequently parodied) A Cry in the Dark (1988).
Another good choice, Lincoln Center.