Meryl Streep is Afraid of No One

Posted Wednesday January 8, 2014 8:21 PM GMT

Belting out an incredibly funny and intelligent speech at the National Board of Review Awards, Meryl Streep showed all that she has no fear as she delivered the best actress award to Emma Thompson.

Having more than a few negative things to say about Walt Disney, her are some of the highlights from the 64-year-old's iconic speech:

"This is a very late night, and we have Spike Jonze — twice — coming up, so I want to say to you, I have a short, sweet, kind of funny version of this tribute to Emma Thompson, and I have the long, bitter, more truthful version, so I would like a vote — and I'm serious! I'm happy to do just the short one. I'd love to do the long one."

After the audience told her to go for the long version, the "Devil Wears Prada" starlet continued, "Some of [Walt Disney's] associates reported that Walt Disney didn't really like women. Ward Kimball, who was one of his chief animators, one of the original 'Nine Old Men,' creator of the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter, Jiminy Cricket, said of Disney, 'He didn't trust women, or cats.' And there is a piece of received wisdom that says that the most creative people are often odd, or irritating, eccentric, damaged, difficult. That along with enormous creativity comes certain deficits in humanity, or decency. We are familiar with this trope in our business. Mozart, Van Gogh, Tarantino, Eminem ... Ezra Pound said, 'I have not met anyone worth a damn who was not irascible.' Well, I have — Emma Thompson."

"Not only is she not irascible, she's practically a saint. There's something so consoling about that old trope, but Emma makes you want to kill yourself because she's a beautiful artist, she's a writer, she's a thinker, she's a living, acting conscience. Emma considers carefully what the fuck she is putting out into the culture!"

"Nobody can swashbuckle the quick-witted riposte like Emma Thompson. She's a writer. A real writer. And she has a writer's relish for the well-chosen word. But some of the most sublime moments in Saving Mr. Banks are completely wordless. They live in the transitions, where P.L. traverses from her public face to her private space. I'm talking about her relentlessness when she has her verbal dim sum, and then it moves to the relaxation of her brow, when she retreats into the past. It's her stillness. Her attentiveness to her younger self. Her perfect alive-ness. Her girlish alertness. These are qualities that Emma has, as a person. She has real access to her own tenderness, and it's one of the most disarming things about her. She works like a stevedore, she drinks like a bloke, and she's smart and crack and she can be withering in a smack-down of wits, but she leads with her heart. And she knows nothing is more funny than earnestness. So now, "An Ode to Emma, Or What Emma is Owed":

"We think the Brits are brittle, they think that we are mush
They are more sentimental, though we do tend to gush
Volcanoes of emotion concealed beneath that lip
Where we are prone to guzzle, they tip the cup and sip
But when eruption bubbles from nowhere near the brain
It's seismic, granite crumbles, the heart overflows like rain
Like lava, all that feeling melts down like Oscar gold
And Emma leaves us reeling, a knockout, truth be told

Ladies and gentlemen, the entirely splendid Emma Thompson."

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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