Sophie’s Choice (1982) Movie Review

By: Alex Phuong (A Toast) –

Meryl Streep is one of the most “celebrated” actresses in film history.  That term is in quotation marks because many people like to tease her about her record-breaking Academy Award nominations.  Interestingly, Meryl Streep has only won Oscar only three times, and she had to wait 29 years to win her third Oscar.  This film review is about her performance as Sophie in Sophie’s Choice, a brilliant adaptation of William Styron’s heart-breaking novel.  Both the novel and the film have become landmarks in contemporary entertainment.

A Toast

This film contains what is perhaps the most definitive Meryl Streep performance.  Many people consider it to be the greatest performance from any actor in cinematic history.  Streep masterfully captures the complexity of Sophie’s character (complete with a Polish accent)!  The scene in which Sophie is given her choice remains one of the most intense and dramatic moments ever captured on film.  Meryl Streep herself never saw that iconic scene until she was on Oprah many years later.  The authenticity that Streep gave to this contemporary character rightfully earned her the Academy Award that year.  She even beat Julie Andrews’s hilarious performance in Victor Victoria!  Without a doubt, this is Meryl Streep’s greatest performance.


Sophie’s Choice remains one of the greatest motion pictures of all time.  The whole notion of a “Sophie’s Choice” also came about thanks to Styron’s novel and this hauntingly beautiful film.  Alan J. Pakula served well as the director of this powerful tale, and created a masterpiece that has entered the contemporary psyche.  His screenplay is equally brilliant given the fact that he had to remove a lot of mature content from the novel to appease the Hollywood censors.  A fun fact was that Meryl Streep literally begged Pakula to play Sophie, and that role allowed her to earn her second Oscar.  It appears as if Pakula made the right choice (pun intended).

Sophie’s Choice (1982) Drinking Game

Take a Drink: whenever Sophie mispronounces English words (like when she mispronounces “Emily Dickinson” as “Emile Dickens.”)

Take a Drink: whenever Stingo does voice-over narration

Drink a Shot: during every part that might make you want to cry.

Take a Big Gulp: during the choice scene

About Alex Phuong

Alex Andy Phuong earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from California State University-Los Angeles in 2015. His love affair with cinema began after discovering Turner Classic Movies in the summer of 2004. His favorite film director is Woody Allen, and his favorite movie star is Kate Winslet.

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