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Oscars 2012: Meryl Streep Named Best Actress for ‘The Iron Lady’

Streep picks up her fourth Academy Award for playing British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

Meryl Streep, the most nominated actor in the history of the Academy Awards, has won the Best Actress Oscar for playing British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady."

The win came on Streep's 17th nomination, and is only the third of her career. It had been 19 years and 13 nominations since her last win, for 1982's "Sophie's Choice."

Also readThe Complete List of Oscar Winners

Streep won over a formidable field that also included Viola Davis in "The Help" and Michelle Williams in "My Week With Marilyn."

Although she lost the SAG Award and Critics Choice Movie Award to Davis, Streep won the Golden Globe and BAFTA Awards for her performance.

Streep's two Oscars came in her first four nominations; the first was a Best Supporting Actress win for "Kramer vs. Kramer." Since then, she has been nominated for "Silkwood," "Out of Africa," "The Bridges of Madison County," "Adaptation," "The Devil Wears Prada" and "Julie & Julia," among others.