As Meryl Streep celebrated a milestone this year with her 70th birthday — she can look back at an incredibly productive five-decade career that has established her as the pre-eminent actress of her generation, with 21 Academy Award nominations (including three wins), three Emmys, and nine Golden Globes trophies. And as she looks back, she can also see a time that reshaped women’s roles in Hollywood, from actresses and writers to producers and directors, and even the film critics who have helped shape the film culture through the years. When the world of film critics was one big boys’ club, Streep told us, they didn’t just write about the movie business — she also thinks they helped set the agenda for what kinds of films Hollywood would release. (Click on the media bar below to hear Meryl Streep)

Although her quality work has, in a way, shielded her from a lot of bad reviews, Streep has still gotten the occasional zinger from critics. Ironically, though, while she stresses the importance of having female critics, she admitted the toughest review she ever got came from another woman. (Click on the media bar below to hear Meryl Streep)

Meryl Streep is currently co-starring with fellow Oscar winners Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon in Big Little Lies, which airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO.

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