In the title role of director Stephen Frears’s new film, Florence Foster Jenkins, Meryl Streep is more a wonder than ever. Playing a high-society music patron who longs for the operatic limelight but who cannot sing a true note, Streep will split your sides and eardrums even as she rends you in two. Tragedy is wriggling just inside the comic cocoon of this story of a real-life New York City doyenne who, in 1944, at age 76, achieved her lifelong dream of singing at Carnegie Hall—and who brought down the house, though not quite the way she wanted to.

John Cazale made only five movies in his brief, brilliant career, but man, what five movies: The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, The Conversation, Dog Day Afternoon, The Deer Hunter. Five movies. Five best picture nominations. Three best picture wins. Cazale’s films racked up a total of 40 Oscar nods, with 14 for his fellow actors. Yet Cazale himself was never nominated for an Academy Award. Now that Leonardo DiCaprio has won his overdue Oscar, perhaps it’s time for the Academy to correct another egregious oversight and award an honorary posthumous Oscar to the actor whose work defined 1970s cinema.

Lois Lowry’s controversial 1993 novel The Giver is now a staple of the children’s literary canon; its film adaptation, starring Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges, opens today, in fact. Back when I was more or less the right age for the book, its Newbury Medal was newly minted, but I wasn’t immediately certain that I was allowed to read it. Being an advanced reader in elementary school necessitated lots of negotiations with my parents and teachers in attempts to balance my appropriate reading level with my corresponding level of emotional development. I got a green light for The Giver, however, which renewed my faith in grown-ups who would entrust young readers with complicated moral questions—in this case, the thorny issue of assisted suicide.

Cate Blanchett, the front-runner to win the best actress Oscar this Sunday for her searing performance in Blue Jasmine, might consider rooting for fellow nominee Sandra Bullock. Bullock is already a victim of the so-called “best actress curse.” Just days after accepting her best actress statuette in 2010 for The Blind Side, Bullock learned of her husband Jesse James’s affairs with multiple women, including a tattoo model. She quickly filed for divorce.