Leave it to The Philadelphia Story for perfecting what has become the modern "all-star cast." In Marvin's Room, typically fantastic actors Streep, Keaton, and DiCaprio are joined by Hume Cronyn (as papa Marvin himself), the delightful Gwen Verdon (as Aunt Ruth), and Robert de Niro (as the bumbling Dr. Wally) -- not to mention cameos from a young Cynthia Nixon and the wonderful character actress Margo Martindale as Hank's psychiatrist. Cosmic forces together bring greatness to what could otherwise be a bland, Hallmark-y event.
Sure, Keaton gets the extra points for playing the long-suffering Bessie with subtle poise, but it's Streep's Lee that provides the real stretch here. Her mothering skills are highly questionable, but her growth from an immature adult to an uneasy caregiver throughout the film is more than just tearjerking. Though Marvin's Room may have been virtually forgotten once 1996 turned to 1997, it's a personal favorite of mine, and it's hard to beat a cast like this.
Meryl's Performance: A-
The Film: A