David Thomson believes that of course Meryl Streep is great in Julie & Julia. Hers is a showcase role that cannot help but be magnificent. The one who steals the show, though, for Thomson? Stanley Tucci:
The great performance in Julie & Julia belongs to Tucci, and it is the cholesterol-cutting sorbet that allows us to stomach the palpating dairyness and self-delight of Streep’s Julia. Not since James Mason stood to one side to get a better view of Judy Garland and her strenuous acting in A Star Is Born has a spectator in a picture so effortlessly walked off with the whole shebang.
You have the nerve to be surprised? Have you been sleeping? Do you not recall the evident rehearsal for this in The Devil Wears Prada, where Tucci artfully explained that the house of fashionistas depended on hiring one cool, ironic male observer so that the office might seem entertaining, instead of demented? I would like to suggest, here and now, on the strength of these two films that there is a chemistry between Streep and Tucci enough to require their making at least one film a year together from now on ‚Äì I would suggest they start with the story of Bette Davis and Willie Wyler as they made The Letter together, that they move on to Harold Pinter’s neglected The Lover, and then do something in a Preston Sturges vein ‚Äì Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots, perhaps. Streep would have to play the one who loses her head (she could keep it under her arm, chatting to it). It has just occurred to me: they must do The Importance of Being Earnest ‚Äì Streep as Lady Bracknell and Tucci as a Jack Worthing who makes a pass at her (in the form of profiteroles, or a tarte tatin, perhaps).