By Michael Slezak
June 30, 2006 at 07:41 PM EDT

So you already knew Meryl Streep would rock in The Devil Wears Prada – she’s Meryl Streep, for cryin’ out loud. But just how hard? Our own Lisa Schwarzbaum raves that “Streep has noodled around with comedy before — air kisses are in order for her great silliness in the Lemony Snicket movie, and her hilarious ball-busting in the remake of The Manchurian Candidate. But we haven’t seen our Meryl like this until now, relishing the role as if it were the swellest Best of Everything achievement award a 13-time Oscar nominee could receive.” Do other critics agree? I perused this morning’s Prada reviews from newspapers and magazines across the country to find out. Here’s a sampling of the love-fest:

Peter Howell, Toronto Star: “Condolence cards need be sent, written in blood, to Cruella De Vil, Martha Stewart and the ghost of Joan Crawford from Mommie Dearest. There’s a new bitch on the block, and all others must fall beneath her stiletto heels… Every bloodshot eyeball must stay glued to Streep and [co-star Stanley] Tucci, who will surely walk the red carpet at the next Oscars, with nods for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor.”

Kyle Smith, New York Post: “She freezer-burns the screen, but [Anne Hathaway’s character] Andrea learns respect for Miranda in a scene where the boss is caught without makeup, literally and figuratively stripped. It’s a prototypical Oscar moment in which Streep plays the kind of stunned composure that suggests a stricken Queen Elizabeth, only with cooler clothes, more power and better-looking children.”

Jack Garner, Gannett News Service: “How good is Meryl Streep as the fierce fashion editor in The Devil Wears Prada? Good enough to expand her record of Oscar nominations to 14. Heck, come next year, she might even win her third statuette.”

Katherine Monk, Vancouver Sun: “Streep is the best actress of her generation — perhaps of our time — and that means Miranda never really manifests as Satan… Streep is fearless in her performance, and it’s her willingness to go places other actors fear to tread that makes her such a pleasure to watch. One scene actually caused the audience to gasp collectively because Streep allowed her character to look ‘unpolished’ in a moment of extreme vulnerability.”

Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune: “Every third movie or so, Meryl Streep does something swell — and effortless, which isn’t one of her defining qualities — to renew her membership in the Great Actress pantheon. The Devil Wears Prada … [is] an occasion for Streep to play against a stereotype, and win. It’s a rout, in fact. Lowering both her voice and her destroy-the-minion gaze, Streep adds lethal dashes of imperious nastiness as well as subtle pathos to a potentially monotonous gorgon.”

Keith Phipps, The A.V. Club: “Sometimes actors get parts so rich that they almost can’t help but make meals of them. Playing a frosty, high-powered editor in The Devil Wears Prada, Meryl Streep turns the role into a four-course dinner and shows up with her own dessert… It’s a diva turn in a diva part. It’s tempting to applaud at the end of her scenes.”

Maitland McDonagh, TV Guide: “The trouble isn’t that it’s chick lit — Jane Austen wrote chick lit — but that it’s a shallow compendium of brand names and whining. Streep is the answer to what ails it: Her magnificently nuanced Miranda is a monster of monumental proportions, across whose face ghostly glimpses of a fully realized person who made herself horrible flicker briefly.”

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times: “But aside from the soft-goods porn (there’s also a green velvet coat so fabulous that it deserves several paragraphs of its own, but, alas, won’t get them), there’s another compelling reason to watch this movie. Meryl Streep… coolly tosses down a performance that’s perfection. Placed side-by-side with her wistful, ditzy Yolanda Johnson in A Prairie Home Companion — two roles that couldn’t be further apart — it’s like a master class in film acting.”

Jennifer Frey, Washington Post: “Miranda is riveting — when she’s in the room, every muscle fiber of every other human being in her general proximity is acutely aware of, in awe of, and afraid of her presence. When Streep’s on the screen, she has the same effect on her audience; she totally commands every scene.”

Claudia Puig, USA Today: “Streep, known best for her stellar dramatic work, has perfect comic timing. She’s more subtle than her literary counterpart, but her delivery is exquisitely stinging. The veteran actress takes something as simple as Miranda’s signature ‘That’s all’ dismissal and delivers it with an off-handed, narcissistic menace that is both hilarious and chilling.”

addCredit(“The Devil Wears Prada: Barry Wetcher”)

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