LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Meryl Streep looks set for an unprecedented 17th Oscar nomination after winning glowing reviews for her performance as Britain's Margaret Thatcher in the movie "The Iron Lady".
"Virtuoso", "translucent", and "compelling" were among the words used by U.S. movie critics this week to describe Streep's turn as Britain's polarizing, and only female, prime minister.
"Is there anything that Meryl Streep can't do as an actress? One can only marvel at her virtuoso performance as Britain's Margaret Thatcher," said Rolling Stone reviewer Peter Travers.
"The Iron Lady", in which Streep plays Thatcher both as a rising politician and as a confused, elderly woman looking back on her 1979-90 period in office, opens in New York and Los Angeles on Friday, and reaches British movie theaters on January 6.
Streep, 64, already has a record 16 Academy Award acting nominations. But she has won the Oscar only twice, for "Kramer vs Kramer" in 1979 and "Sophie's Choice" in 1982.
Her turn as Thatcher has put her on the short-list for Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards in January, ahead of the Oscar nominations announcement on January 26.
Time magazine's Richard Corliss called Streep's performance as Thatcher, who is now 86, "a triumph"; Leah Rozen, writing for TheWrap.com, said Streep was "astonishingly accurate in mimicking the look, voice, gait and mannerisms of her real life character."
However "The Iron Lady" itself won fewer fans, scoring a 62 percent positive rating on movie aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes.
New York Magazine's David Edelstein described the film as "shallow but satisfying, largely because of Meryl Streep and her big fake English teeth and gift for using mimicry as a means of achieving empathy."
Writing in the New York Times, A.O. Scott praised the brilliance of Streep's performance and said the movie was "likely to be the definitive screen treatment of Mrs. Thatcher, at least for a while."
But Scott added; "You are left with the impression of an old woman who can't quite remember who she used to be and of a movie that is not so sure either."
(Reporting by Jill Serjeant)