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Happy Birthday (Tomorrow), Meryl Streep

An Oscar-worthy birthday celebration at the Ritz with the Merylthon

By Richard Whittaker, 2:20PM, Sat. Jun. 21

Three Oscars nominations, eight Golden Globes and a matching pair of Emmys. Yup, Meryl Streep can lie back if she wants.

There are A-listers, and then there are performers like Meryl Streep. An actress where the alphabet just doesn't have the right letter to express her impact on the silver screen. So this Sunday the Alamo Ritz makes it up to the star of The Deerhunter, Mamma Mia and Death Becomes Her with her own Merylthon marathon, celebrating her 65th birthday.

Actor-themed marathons have become a Drafthouse fixture, from the original Russelmania (celebrating Kurt Russell) to the upcoming Cruise Control (for fans of everyone's favorite couch-jumping, box-standing Scientologist, Tom Cruise.) But this weekend's Merylthon changes the rules in two significant ways. Firstly, it's been booked by Drafthouse serving and behind-the-scenes staff, not the regular programming team. And second, it's the first time in which the honored star is a woman.

Meghan Otoupalik, a long-time staffer at the Ritz and part of the Merylthon booking team, explained that the whole idea came from the staff. She said, "I've worked a lot of marathons as a server, and so have a lot of my coworkers. Behind the scenes, we were always putting together a list of movies that we'd like to put on. And after the Nicholas Cage marathon, we were hanging around and jokingly asking, why haven't they done a marathon a woman actor yet?" Someone mentioned that to Ritz programmer Tommy Swenson "and Tommy said, why don't we do this?"

The staff that came up with the idea got to do all the film selecting, all the decisions, and even got to choose the special menu (as Otoupalik noted, the servers that have worked so many of these marathons know better than most what guests really want across a 10 hour stretch.) However, unlike some of the previous marathonees, it was a challenge to find films where Streep was the above-the-title lead. Otoupalik said, "She's been in a lot of really great suporting roles, like Adaptation or The French Lieutenant's Woman. She's great in these, but she takes a step to one side." But after Streep's 37 year on-screen career, she said, "She's got such a large body of work that we were able to find five movies that she's the lead."

As always with a Drafthosue marathon, the final list of five titles will be a secret until the credit rolls on each one, but Otoupalik are pretty sure that they've created a list that will cover the entirety of Streep's range and career, from Oscar-winning dramas to wry comedies. She said, "We've got to watch a lot of obscure movies that I may never have watched before, and there's a lot of little gems."

With Streep breaking the glass ceiling this weekend, more female-lead days are sure to come. Otoupalik suggests Sigourney Weaver would be a good contender (after all, the marathons spun out of the Action Pack series, and they don't come much more kick ass than Ripley.) But that also doesn't mean that she wouldn't like to handle her own XY booking. She said, "I can't speak for the other girls who are helping me program this, but me, personally, I would love to do a Dennis Hopper marathon."

Merylthon, June 22, 2pm, Alamo Ritz, 320 E. Sixth. For more info, visit our Special Screenings page. Tickets via Drafthouse.com.

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