Helen Mirren was deservedly crowned The Queen for 2006, but as iconic fashionista Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada Meryl Streep’s no slouch. No performance by an American actress in that year had audiences in a more entertaining capitalist-bitch vise. When she articulates the word “stuff,” explaining its importance to the fashion industry, we’re all left a little numbed by what is easily the most incisive and expertly conveyed humiliating squeeze of the season, if not the last few years. Nor would anyone want to be the recipient of her subjugating stares. OTOH, who doesn’t want to emulate her imperial series of coat and purse slams on an assistant’s desk? (Madame Miranda’s “Where’s that piece of paper I had in my hand yesterday morning?” recalls the video customer in Clerks asking “Do you have that one with that guy who was in the movie that was out last year?”) In Patricia Field’s designs Streep is chicly patrician and J. Roy Helland’s lez-powered coiffure is the fitting crown. The National Society of Film Critics got it right when it named her the year’s best supporting actress for this, and A Prairie Home Companion. In the Houston Chronicle, writer Michael Hardy posits the following: “Lauren Weisberger’s 2003 book portrayed the fashion industry as a soul-sucking fantasyland that turns Andy (Anne Hathaway) into a Chanel-wearing robot. The genius of director David Frankel’s adaption is his inversion of this formula. In the book, the fashion industry is full of fakes while Andy’s personal life is full of regular Joes. In Frankel’s film, the industry feels vivid and plausibly decadent, while Andy’s private life is all shallow cliché. You can’t wait till she gets back in the office.” Minus the “genius” hyperbole, agreed—viewers can get impatient waiting to return to Streep in action, dripping in patented dulcet vocals and Queen Bee armor. Couldn’t this movie Andy recognize even once that her boytoy and her black artist friend were self-serving hypocrites in their condemnation of her career drive while theirs were climbing as well? Still, I had a rough time of it with more-than-adequate Hathaway; it’s not her fault she resembles Liza Minnelli but that’s baggage no one needs to carry. And Stanley Tucci carries his own—a ring so huge that it not only steals scenes, it causes the wearer’s wrist to limp more than necessary. (In Anna Wintour mop, Mirren does a reduced diva as Dominique in Gary Marshall’s 2004 Raising Helen.) mop,

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Text COPYRIGHT © 2007 RALPH BENNER All Rights Reserved.