30 Highest-Grossing Meryl Streep Movies, Ranked
Actress Meryl Streep has made a lot of money for a lot of people over her lengthy and successful career. Streep has won three Academy Awards and has been nominated for an Oscar a record 21 times. She's also earned a record 32 Golden Globe Award nominations, winning eight times. Furthermore, she has had 17 movies that have topped $100 million at the worldwide box office. In all, Streep’s worldwide box office movies have brought in $2,982,447,280.
In fact, Streep has been regarded as the best actress of her generation, but what made her so successful was the ability to adapt to whatever role she played. Consider this: She's been Margaret Thatcher, a washed-up rock-and-roller, a ruthless fashion magazine editor, the publisher of the Washington Post and a Greek hotel owner in a musical. And we could go on and on.
Here are Streep’s 30 highest-grossing movies, and we attempted to avoid spoiling the ending of these movies.
30. Ricki and the Flash
Year released: 2015
Box office worldwide: $41,166,033*
Streep plays the role of Ricki Randazzo (real name Linda Brummel) who gave up everything with hopes of becoming a rock star. Unfortunately, things didn’t quite work out for Ricki, so her only option was to return home with her tail between her legs and try to make good with her family.
That meant returning home to Indiana and facing her ex-husband Pete (played by Kevin Kline), daughter Julie who nearly committed suicide over a broken relationship, son Josh who was engaged and Adam, the youngest. Ricki hoped to swoop in and mend the fences, but it didn’t quite work out that way, and now she must find out how to repair the damage she caused.
*Note: Box-office numbers are not adjusted for inflation.
29. Fantastic Mr. Fox
Year released: 2009
Box office worldwide: $47,001,091
In this animated comedy film, Streep lends her voice as Mrs. Fox, who plays opposite Mr. Fox (voiced by George Clooney). Mr. Fox gave a promise to Mrs. Fox that he would not raid the farms of their human neighbors. That worked just fine until, after 12 years, Mr. Fox could not resist himself anymore.
It didn’t matter that Mr. Fox was risking his marriage and the safety of his family and animal friends. His animal instincts took over, and he needed to act. Meanwhile, the farmers rose up and forced Mr. Fox, Mrs. Fox, their family and friends to go underground.
So, it was up to Mr. Fox to save the day, and he organized his friends with hopes of pulling off the greatest chicken heist in animal history.
28. The Ant Bully
Year released: 2006
Box office worldwide: $49,610,898
"The Ant Bully" was another movie in which Streep showed off her voice-acting chops, playing Queen Ant in this computer-animated comedy.
The plot follows a 10-year-old named Lucaschnickohl who feels neglected by his family, and he has to deal with a bully from school named Steve. Out of frustration, Lucaschnickohl attacks an ant colony; however, he is later shrunk to ant size by a potion from Zoc, a wizard ant. It didn’t take long for Lucaschnickohl to understand life through the eyes of an ant.
So, Lucaschnickohl and the ants join together for an assortment of adventures with hopes of stopping an exterminator from destroying the colony, but it definitely is anything but a smooth ride.
27. The Deer Hunter
Year released: 1979
Box office worldwide: $50,057,795
It’s safe to say that this was the breakthrough role for Streep that launched one of the greatest careers in motion picture history. "The Deer Hunter" came away with five Academy Awards and, for Streep, she earned her first Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Streep excelled in the role of Linda, who needed to escape her abusive father.
Meanwhile, the main characters were played by Robert De Niro (Mike), Christopher Walken (Nick) and John Savage (Steven). They played steelworkers from Pennsylvania who loved to hunt deer in the woods and hang out in the town bar. But their lives changed when they went to fight in the Vietnam War. The film focuses on the brutality of the war in Southeast Asia and how these friends tried desperately to cope with the experience of escaping a Viet Cong cage. It's been regarded as one of the best films ever made.
26. August: Osage County
Year released: 2013
Box office worldwide: $50,738,810
Streep showed how versatile she is as an actress by playing the role of Violet, a mother who is suffering from oral cancer and is addicted to narcotics.
The death of Violet’s husband brings the strong-willed women of the Weston family back together in rural Oklahoma. The homecoming becomes anything but a grand reunion of sorts. Violet is good at speaking her mind no matter who is within earshot. (Perhaps, a relative most people can relate to.)
This film did not lack stars. Not only did Streep’s performance earn her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress, but Julia Roberts was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress.
Year released: 2008
Box office worldwide: $53,191,101
Streep plays Sister Aloysius, a strict leader of a Catholic elementary school who has everyone on their toes in fear of what she will do next. Father Flynn, played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman and who is well-liked, suggests that her style of teaching needs some tweaks and that doesn’t go over too well. Needless to say, Sister Aloysius has a dislike for Flynn.
A nun, played by Amy Adams, notices that Flynn has been paying extra attention to the school’s only black child and relays that to Sister Aloysius. This launches an informal investigation by Sister Aloysius who aims to capitalize on the fact that Flynn is committing the ultimate sin without any supporting evidence.
Streep’s powerful performance led to a Critics’ Choice Award win as well as nominations for Best Actress at the Academy Awards and Golden Globes.
24. Florence Foster Jenkins
Year released: 2016
Box office worldwide: $56,000,399
In this true story, a legendary New York socialite, played by Streep, has this overwhelming notion that she can successfully pursue her dream of becoming a great singer. It seems the voice Florence Foster Jenkins is hearing from her mouth is simply charming and delightful.
However, in actuality, what everyone else is hearing is so awful that it's seen as comedy. Her companion/manager St. Clair Bayfield, played by Hugh Grant, finds every way possible to protect Florence from the truth. Now, Florence believes she is good enough to perform a concert at Carnegie Hall.
The movie follows the desperate attempt by Bayfield and voice coach Cosme McMoon, played by Simon Helberg, to shield Florence. Streep earned another Oscars nomination for Best Actress.
23. Lions for Lambs
Year released: 2007
Box office worldwide: $63,211,088
Streep plays liberal TV journalist Janine Roth in this war drama directed by Robert Redford. The plot covers three sides to this story. Two college students want to do something meaningful with their lives, so they enlist in the Army and go to Afghanistan only to be killed by the Taliban.
Then, there is a Republican Senator who has sights on the White House and tells Roth of his new war strategy in Afghanistan. Finally, a college professor attempts to get through to a student with potential by telling him the story of the fallen soldiers.
This was the first movie under Cruise/Wagner Productions with film studio United Artists after Tom Cruise had a falling out with Paramount Pictures in 2006.
22. The Giver
Year released: 2014
Box office worldwide: $66,540,205
Streep plays the role of Chief Elder in this sci-fi flick in which society has been totally changed following a major calamity. The human experience has completely altered, and all memories of the past have been removed and are held by one person, The Giver played by Jeff Bridges, to shield the rest of the community from pain. The elders rule the community their way with the Chief Elder telling those in the community, “When people have the freedom to choose, they choose wrong, every single time.”
Well, as you might guess, things begin to slip through the cracks. Jonas, played by Brenton Thwaites, lives a colorless, yet good life until the teenager starts hanging out with The Giver. Sure enough, Jonas begins to uncover layers to discover the community’s deadly truth, and he’s faced with a life or death struggle to protect the people.
Year released: 2005
Box office worldwide: $67,527,153
Under an extraordinary set of circumstances, Streep’s character, psychiatrist Dr. Lisa Metzger, suddenly begins to discover things concerning a patient of hers named Rafi, played by Uma Thurman, and her son, Dave, played by Bryan Greenberg, that she maybe shouldn’t know.
Rafi tells her deepest secrets to Dr. Metzger during their sessions, which is OK until Rafi starts to hook up with Dave. Once Dr. Metzger finds out about her son and Rafi, things get complicated. Clearly, Dr. Metzger does not approve of Rafi seeing her son, but it gets worse when Rafi finds out Dr. Metzger is her boyfriend’s mother. Yikes!
20. The River Wild
Year released: 1994
Box office worldwide: $94,215,000
You can stick this movie under the category of bad timing. All the Boston family wanted to do was take a rafting trip to the Salmon River in Idaho, and instead, they wind up getting mixed up with some criminals.
Streep plays Gale Hartman, the mother of the family who happens to be a former river guide. Gale and her husband Tom, played by David Strathairn, are having marital problems; Tom is spending too much time at the office. So, they decide to take their son, Roarke (Joseph Mazzello) on a rafting trip for his birthday. The family pet, Maggie, also joins in while their daughter stays behind.
So, they meet up with three other rafters (the bad guys), and the Hartmans are on their way for quite an adventure. The twists and turns of this plot make for a good thriller. Streep earned Best Actress award nominations from the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild.
19. The Manchurian Candidate
Year released: 2004
Box office worldwide: $96,135,872
The question of what is real and what is false comes into the light with this political thriller. Streep plays the role of Senator Eleanor Prentiss Shaw, who would stop at nothing to get her son, Raymond (Liev Schreiber), into the White House. He is a U.S. Representative from New York who is a war hero and a vice-president candidate. However, Sen. Shaw wants more for her son.
Meanwhile, Major Bennett Marco (Denzel Washington), who led the Gulf War unit with Raymond, begins to have doubts about what really happened in this mission through the dreams he's having. Unbeknownst to him, Marco had a nanotechnological implant put in his back, an experiment from Manchurian Global, a major company that has big-time political connections.
Once Marco discovers and removes the implant from his back, he starts his own investigation. The plot thickens, and it leads to brainwashing and murder, whatever it takes for Eleanor to put Raymond in the White House. Streep was yet again nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress.
18. The Hours
Year released: 2002
Box office worldwide: $97,030,468
The film takes an interesting course focusing on three women, played by Streep, Julianne Moore and Nicole Kidman, in three different time periods on the same day, but they interconnect by a novel written by Virginia Woolf in 1925.
Streep plays Clarissa Vaughn who is preparing for an award party for a long-time friend, who is suffering from AIDS, in 2001. Laura Brown (Moore) is pregnant in an unhappy marriage with a son in 1951, and Woolf (Kidman), a writer, is trying to overcome depression and mental illness in 1923. The film is about choices between life and death.
Streep earned a Best Actress nomination from the Golden Globes. But it was Kidman who won Best Actress from both the Academy Awards and Golden Globes.
17. Kramer vs. Kramer
Year released: 1979
Box office worldwide: $106,260,000
If you’re looking for a movie where divorce can be downright brutal, "Kramer vs. Kramer" is at the head of the class. Streep plays Joanna, and Dustin Hoffman plays Ted. The movie starts out with Joanna blind-siding Ted with news that she is leaving him and their son Billy (played by Justin Henry).
Since Ted is a workaholic and never had time for Billy, all of that had to change. And it did. Their relationship improved greatly. Fast-forward 15 months, and Joanna is back in the picture to fight for custody of Billy, and things get downright nasty between their lawyers. This box-office success earned Streep an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress and Hoffman, for Best Actor.
16. The Iron Lady
Year released: 2012
Box office worldwide: $115,592,104
You would probably be hard-pressed to find someone who can portray former Britain Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher better than Streep, who received an Oscar for Best Actress for the third time in her career. However, prior to this role, she hadn't won an Oscar for 29 years.
The movie has plenty of flashbacks that include Alexandra Roach, who plays the younger Margaret Thatcher. Some flashbacks, in particular, date back to Thatcher’s early years in politics as a woman who overcame her struggles and emerged in the male-dominated Conservative Party where she earned a seat in the House of Commons.
From there, the film follows Streep’s character from winning the 1979 general election to her reluctant resignation 11 years later. She was controversial, tough and fought for what she believed in, for better or worse.
15. Julie & Julia
Year released: 2009
Box office worldwide: $131,516,178
For this, you get two true stories for the price of one. Streep portrays cooking legend Julia Child while Amy Adams stars as Julie Powell, who is completely frustrated with her dead-end job and wants out.
So, how do the two relate to one another? In one plot, Child is an American in France who embarks on learning how to become a chef in France. She struggles a bit with French cuisine, but she eventually becomes a celebrity chef. Meanwhile, Powell, an amateur chef, decides to cook 524 recipes from Child’s cookbook in one year in a tiny apartment and chronicle her struggles and victories in a blog.
Streep was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Actress category, and she won a Golden Globe. Also, Streep fans will quickly recognize Stanley Tucci, who plays Child’s husband, from when they starred together in “The Devil Wears Prada" (more on it later).
14. Hope Springs
Year released: 2012
Box office worldwide: $133,085,295
Streep and Tommy Lee Jones star as Kay and Arnold who are devoted to each other after 30 years of marriage. However, while Arnold is OK with what they have, Kay sees their marriage as stuck in a rut that needs to change. Oh, and Arnold is a pretty stubborn guy when it comes to breaking a routine.
So, when Kay gets wind of a highly regarded couples specialist in Great Hope Springs played by Steve Carell, she gets the idea for her and Arnold to take a one-week trip to try to regain what they once had with help from the specialist. The big obstacle is convincing Arnold that this venture is worth the time and effort.
For her performance, Streep was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actress.
13. Death Becomes Her
Year released: 1992
Box office worldwide: $149,022,650
This box-office smash pits Madeline Ashton, played by Streep, against Helen Sharp, played by Goldie Hawn, as the two rivals fight for the same man (Ernest Menville) played by Bruce Willis.
The story begins when Ashton invites Sharp and her fiance Menville to Ashton’s unsuccessful Broadway musical. Soon, Menville finds an attraction for Ashton, and he breaks off his engagement to Sharp to marry Ashton. Sharp’s life goes in the toilet, but she begins to plot against Ashton. Meanwhile, after seven years, Ashton’s career declines, and Menville becomes an alcoholic.
At the center of this film is a magic potion; if it’s drunk, people look fabulous and can live forever. The trick is they must take care of their bodies. Both Ashton and Sharp, unbeknownst to the other, took the potion, and now their wild adventure begins. Streep earned a Golden Globe Best Actress nomination for her performance.
12. The Bridges of Madison County
Year released: 1995
Box office worldwide: $175,516,617
"The Bridges of Madison County" brings together a housewife named Francesca Johnson, played by Streep, and a photographer named Robert Kincade, played by Clint Eastwood, who is on assignment to photograph the historic bridges in Madison County.
Francesca is left alone as her husband and kids go on a trip, and down the road, here comes Robert harmlessly seeking directions. However, that sets into motion an intense four-day love affair between Francesca and Robert. They fall in love and nearly go off together, but Francesca begins to have doubts and wonders whether it's a fling or long-lasting. Ultimately, the two part ways.
Eastwood directed and produced this movie for which Streep was nominated for an Oscar, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards for Best Actress.
11. The Post
Year released: 2017
Box office worldwide: $179,769,457
Streep plays Katharine Graham, the first woman publisher of The Washington Post, as she goes up against the newspaper’s editor, Ben Bradlee played by Tom Hanks, on whether or not to publish the Pentagon Papers back in 1971.
At stake in this true story is our freedom of speech rights. The Pentagon Papers were a set of classified documents regarding the government’s involvement in the Vietnam War and French Indochina. Graham must make the decision for the Post to publish the papers under the threat of legal action and likely the end of the Post itself.
Furthermore, this film came out during a time when the newspaper industry was sharply declining, and many people in the field point to this movie to show how important newspapers are toward holding public officials accountable, even as high as the White House. For her part, Streep was nominated for Best Actress at the Academy Awards and Golden Globes.
10. Into the Woods
Year released: 2014
Box office worldwide: $212,902,372
This movie has everything you want from a fairytale musical with witches, spells and, of course, a curse. In fact, this movie brings in fairytales such as “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Cinderella,” “Jack and the Beanstalk,” and “Rapunzel.”
Streep plays a witch who has vengeance in her heart, and the movie is based on a couple who seek to have a curse removed that prevents them from having children. What the couple has to do to get the witch to remove the curse makes for a challenging and fun adventure.
Streep received a Best Supporting Actress nomination at the Academy Awards, Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild awards.
9. Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events
Year released: 2004
Box office worldwide: $212,956,024
Streep is not at the forefront of this movie, playing Josephine Anwhistle, who acts paranoid with a touch of OCD, and her ultimate fate doesn’t go too well.
The center of the movie focuses on three Baudelaire siblings who are left orphaned thanks to a fire in their mansion. They go on to live with Count Olaf, played by Jim Carrey, who wants nothing more than the inheritance left by the siblings’ parents to the eldest Baudelaire, played by Emily Browning.
Eventually, the siblings escape from Olaf to stay with their Uncle Monty and later with Aunt Josephine. But Olaf is never far behind.
8. Little Women
Year released: 2019
Box office worldwide: $218,895,434
Based on the classic novel, "Little Women" follows the lives of four sisters in Concord, Massachusetts in the 19th century. One of the March sisters, Jo, the author’s alter ego, chronicles the lives of her and her other three sisters (Meg, Amy and Beth) as they are determined to live life the way they want.
Meanwhile, Streep plays the role of Aunt March, and she has a hard time giving any praise to the four sisters, but she doesn’t have any problem saying what she thinks. In fact, Aunt March probably has the best quote in the movie, saying, “I may not always be right, but I am never wrong.”
Streep may not have that big of a role, but Aunt March makes an impact, particularly toward the end of the movie.
7. It’s Complicated
Year released: 2009
Box office worldwide: $224,614,744
Streep plays the role of Jane Adler, who operates a very successful business as a restaurateur. She’s been a divorcee for many years even though she's still friends with her ex-husband, Jake, played by Alec Baldwin. Jake is married to the woman he had an affair with that broke up his marriage to Jane.
Jane goes back for her son’s college graduation and runs into Jake at a hotel bar, who is flying solo because his little stepson is sick. Yes, one thing leads to another … Jane and Jake sleep together. And that won’t be the first time. Ironically, Jane is now the “other woman.”
Enter Adam, who is hired to remodel Jane’s house and has just finished a very bad divorce. Adam begins to fall in love with Jane, but with Jake back in the picture, who knows how this will end up? Streep earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress.
6. Artificial Intelligence: AI
Year released: 2001
Box office worldwide: $235,900,000
Streep lends her voice as the Blue Fairy Mecha in this science-fiction drama set in the 22nd century in a post-climate change society. The central figure is an android named David who is childlike and has the rare programming ability to love.
At one point in the film, David meets the Blue Fairy Mecha and asks if the Blue Mecha can make him into a real boy so “mommy will love me and let me stay with her,” but the Blue Mecha admits that that can’t happen.
So, when David finds he is not accepted by humans and machines, he ventures out to find where he belongs. This movie, directed by Steven Spielberg, has been described as a “fascinating movie” among critics.
5. Out of Africa
Year released: 1985
Box office worldwide: $258,210,860
Streep plays Karen Blixen who is set on being a dairy farmer until she meets up with her husband, Bror, played by Klaus Maria Brandauer, in Africa. Bror decided to spend the couple’s money on a coffee plantation. What makes this worse is Karen finds out Bror has been stepping out on her.
Bring in big-game hunter Denys, played by Robert Redford. Despite still being married, Karen starts to have feelings for Denys, but he prefers a simple lifestyle compared to her high-class way of life. Can the two still hook up?
Streep earned a nomination for Best Actress from the Academy Awards and Golden Globe.
4. The Devil Wears Prada
Year released: 2006
Box office worldwide: $326,073,155
This box-office hit centers on the rough side of the fashion industry. Streep plays the role of Miranda Priestly, a fashion magazine editor who brutally mistreats her assistants, models, designers and pretty much anyone who flies into Miranda’s air space.
Meanwhile, Sndy Sachs, played by Anne Hathaway, is fresh out of college seeking a career in journalism. She applies and gets a job at Runway as one of Miranda’s assistants. With little knowledge of the fashion industry, Andy struggles to catch on with fashion and what the industry entails while being pretty much a servant to Miranda.
Streep won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress for a musical or comedy and earned an Oscars nomination as well as a nomination from the Screen Actors Guild.
3. Mary Poppins Returns
Year released: 2018
Box office worldwide: $348,901,032
Streep teams up with Emily Blunt again (both starred in “The Devil Wears Prada”), as Mary Poppins, played by Blunt, makes her triumphant return in this classic Disney production. Streep plays the role of Topsy, Mary Poppins’ cousin and an eccentric who runs a fix-it shop, and yes, she can fix anything.
Mary Poppins returns to the Banks family to visit Jane and her brother Michael, who now has three children. Mary Poppins works her magic so that the siblings can remember what it’s like to be children again. Mary Poppins recruits the help of Jack the lamplighter, played by Lin-Manuel Miranda, as they bring joy to the streets of London.
2. Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!
Year released: 2018
Box office worldwide: $399,228,127
Typically it’s tough for a sequel to be successful on the movie screen, but the second version of "Mamma Mia!" became a hit at the box office. The stage is set again on the magical Greek island of Kalokari.
Even though Streep plays a minor part in the movie, it stands as one of her top-grossing movies made by Streep. After all, it's the first time in Streep’s career that she played the same part twice or appeared in a sequel film.
1. Mamma Mia!
Year released: 2008
Box office worldwide: $602,891,655
Donna, played by Streep, owns a hotel named Villa Donna in Greece and figures there’s no better place to have a wedding for Sophie. So, Donna recruits two old friends to help with the wedding preparations.
Meanwhile, Sophie has her own agenda. She has no idea who her father is, so, unbeknownst to Donna, Sophie invites three men from Donna’s past with hopes of meeting her real father. If Sophie succeeds, she will find the right person to walk her down the aisle at her wedding.
The film is based on the Broadway musical, with songs performed by the pop group ABBA, and it was wildly popular at the box office. Streep earned a Golden Globe nomination for her role.