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Meryl Streep's Lowest-Rated Movie You Probably Forgot Existed

By any definition, Meryl Streep is a living Hollywood legend. Since making her cinematic debut in 1977's "Julia," Streep has become one of the most sought-after actors of her generation. Over the years, the celebrated thespian has earned countless awards, from Tonys and Emmys to Golden Globes and Oscars. In fact, Streep has been nominated for more acting Academy Awards than any other actor in history (per Insider).

Over the years, Streep has impressed audiences with her chameleon-like abilities to seamlessly inhabit a role. She's won praise for her portrayals of historical figures such as former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and famed cook Julia Child. Streep is as believable playing a strict nun in "Doubt" as she is playing a hotel owner in "Mamma Mia." Despite her many accolades and achievements, not all of Meryl Streep's films have won over the critics. Yes, even a Hollywood legend can have the occasional flop.

Meryl Streep went from Prada to Afghanistan

A year after playing the delightfully fiendish Miranda Priestly in "The Devil Wears Prada," Streep switched gears, trading fictional fashion wars for very real conflicts in the Middle East. In 2007, Streep took on the role of Janine Roth in "Lions for Lambs," a war drama focusing on the United States military involvement in Afghanistan after the 9/11 terror attacks.

"Lions for Lambs" has a unique structure, essentially telling one overarching story through three separate, yet interconnected substories. In one, Robert Redford, who also directed the film, plays a college professor telling one of his students, Todd Hayes (Andrew Garfield), about the choices two of his other students made. The second substory focuses on those two students, who enlisted to join America's war in Afghanistan. Streep's Roth, a liberal journalist, and Tom Cruise's Senator Jasper Irving provide the plot for the film's third substory, in which Roth faces a dilemma of professional ethics and moral responsibility.

Streep's character faces a professional dilemma

With the war effort losing steam, and with public support and overall interest waning, Sen. Irving devised a new battle plan that he wants the country to adopt. In order to drum up support among the electorate, Irving arranges a meeting with Roth, detailing his battle plan and how it will hasten the end of the war and ensure U.S. victory. Irving, a Republican, hopes the liberal Roth will feature his plan on her news show, presenting it in a positive light. In the meeting, Roth questions the senator, noting the similarities his plan has with the war strategy America followed in Vietnam. In true politician fashion, Irving talks around Roth's questions while diminishing her criticisms.

Aware that Irving is essentially enlisting her to promote government propaganda, Roth initially tells her editor that she'll write the story, but with a focus on the faults in Irving's battle plan. The editor disagrees and tells her to write the story Irving wants — or else. Streep's substory ends with Roth walking out of the office and driving past the White House. The audience knows the story ran, but it's never made clear if Roth submitted to her editor's will or if she quit and the piece was covered by another journalist.

Critics liked the acting, but hated the film

Despite its impressive supporting cast, "Lions for Lambs" holds only a 27% favorability rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Many of the criticisms call out the film's extensive dialogue. Some enjoyed seeing Streep and Cruise go toe-to-toe, with the Philadelphia Daily News calling their exchanges "slick and musical." Others compared the film's wordiness to "dueling position papers" and a "political science lecture." Some professional critics, and many amateur ones, took issue with what they perceived as a heavy liberal bias in the film, though that shouldn't surprise too many familiar with Streep's own political views.

Interestingly, as much as critics disliked the film overall, many noted the superior performances turned in by the main cast. Unfortunately, as the same critics also noted, the stellar acting was not enough to save the movie. Despite the negative reviews, "Lions for Lambs" managed to eke out a profit, earning close to $65 million worldwide on a $35 million budget (per Box Office Mojo). Apparently, even Meryl Streep's "flops" are bankable projects.